Image Source: Reuters
Homei Miyashita, a scientist at Japan's Meiji University, has developed a pair of chopsticks that increases the perception of saltiness by 1.5 times. The device transmits sodium ions from food to the mouth using a weak electrical current. Miyashita and the beverage maker, Kirin, hope to refine and commercialize the device as early as next year in Japan, where sodium intake is double that recommended by the World Health Organization.
Image Source: Francesco Paolo Desiderio/University of Naples Federico II
Yeast is what usually puffs up pizza dough. But there is another way, according to materials scientist Ernesto Di Maio. He and his team at the University of Naples Federico II got similar results by infusing dough with gas at high pressure in an autoclave (pressurized oven) then releasing the pressure during baking. Through a gas inlet, they pumped in carbon dioxide, helium, or air, and brought the dough interior to a pressure of 10 atmospheres (about five times higher than in a standard pressure cooker) and a temperature of 302°F for 10 minutes. The end result? “We tried it, and it was nice and crusty and soft,” said Di Maio.
Image Source: The Atlantic
Tastes that we perceive, including sweet, salty, bitter, and umami, can be traced to biological needs. Sweet foods are sources of needed calories and salty foods provide the mineral needed for proper fluid balance and nerve function. But there's no known biological need for sour foods. And yet we love them, at least up to a certain concentration. Scientists have recently dug deeper into the acidic conundrum and come up with some interesting theories on why we love lemonade as much as kimchi and yogurt.
Image Source: Adam Rhodes
Fishy smells can overpower and persist in a dish, a room, or even a pan. A new study in the Journal of Food Science has found a potential solution: rosemary. Researchers tested the deodorizing effects of rosemary, ginger, garlic, angelica, fennel, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, and bay leaf. Rosemary was the most effective, reducing fish aromas by 58%. The scientists isolated three phenolic compounds in rosemary responsible for neutralizing fishy aromas: rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, and carnosol. All three will be in my dinner tonight.
Image Source: Maisie Cousins
Maggots. Roaches. Pus. What is it that makes them so repulsive? According to food psychologist Paul Rozin, it's part survival instinct. We perceive feces and rotting meat as disgusting so that we don't eat them and get sick or die. But dogs didn't get the memo that shit smells bad. And that's where things get interesting. Disgust is more than a biological reaction. It's a fungible human emotion related to cultural norms of purity, propriety, and even politics. What's disgusting to some is delicious food to others. Does that mean you should eat maggots? Chacun son goût!
Image Source: Alex Lau
Research suggests our brains are hardwired to love eating crunchy foods. But texture preferences can be highly subjective. Some people crave the slippery, gelatinous texture of sea cucumber, while others find it revolting. Science helps explain why creamy, crispy, sticky, chewy, soggy, lumpy, powdery, and chewy textures elicit both positive and negative reactions after food hits our taste receptors.
Image Source: Andrew Pelling
University of Ottawa professor Andrew Pelling has turned an apple into a viable mammalian ear and asparagus into a functioning spinal-cord implant. Pelling's team spent two years decellularizing fruits and vegetables and growing mammalian cells onto them. “It just kept working," he says. They implanted decellularized asparagus into lab rats with severed spinal cords and within weeks the rats could walk again. Pelling now believes the future of “augmented biology” lies in the supermarket produce aisle.