An Appetite For Science

Posted on July 30, 2008  Comments (0)

An Appetite For Science by Corinne A. Marasco

episodes titled “Churn Baby Churn” and “I Pie” explain, respectively, how sugar crystallization affects the texture of ice cream and what happens to a pie crust in the oven as it bakes. These are the sort of processes that chemists and materials scientists address everyday.

Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, that love lactose, the sugar found in milk. Adding a starter culture of plain, store-bought yogurt to milk at 110 °F, Brown shows that the bacteria will convert the lactose into lactic acid. The heating pad helps to maintain a steady temperature to allow the bacteria to incubate. If the temperature of the milk is too low, the bacteria won’t grow to make yogurt. If the temperature is too high, the bacteria will die.

He’s confident he could teach a high school or college science course with nothing but a kitchen. For labs he could demonstrate how heat denatures protein by cooking an egg, how yeast cells execute gas-liberating reactions by baking a loaf of bread, or how fermentation occurs by making pickles. As a bonus, the class would get to eat the experiments, enabling observation of cause and effect.

Related: The Man Who Unboiled an EggBacterial Evolution in YogurtPlumpynut, Food SaviorScience and Engineering Search

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