Food Science Camp 2013 and Erik Fooladi

We participate in the Oregon State U Food Science Camp for middle school students.

Part of the STEM [science technology engineering math] Academies@OSU Camps.

We teach about bread fermentations, yeast converting sugars to CO2 and ethanol, lactobacillus converting sugar to lactic and acetic acids, how the gluten in wheat can form films to trap the gas and  allow the dough to rise. On the way we teach about flour composition, bread ingredients and their chemical functionalities, hydration, the relationships between enzymes and substrates [amylases on starch to produce maltose for the fermentation organisms]; gluten development, the gas laws and CO2’s declining solubility in the aqueous phase during baking which expands the gas bubbles and leads to the oven spring at the beginning of baking; and the effect of pH on Maillard browning using soft pretzels that they get to shape themselves..

All this is illustrated by hands on [in] activities: they experience the hydration and the increasing cohesiveness of the dough as they mix it with their own hands, they see their own hand mixed dough taken through to well-risen bread. They get to experience dough/gluten development in a different context with the pasta extruder, and more and more.

A great way to introduce kids to the relevance of science to their day to day lives: in our case chemistry physics biochemistry and biology in cereal food processing.

We were also fortunate to have Erik Fooladi from Volda University College in Norway to observe the fun:

If you have not read his blog and you like what we do here: you should!


endless pasta


Good Cheese, Bad Cheese

pH, colloidal calcium phosphate, aging, proteolysis, emulsification or its loss and their interactions lead to optimum melting qualities for cheeses. A module in this year’s food systems chemistry class.

This module was informed by this beautiful article “The beauty of milk at high magnification” by Miloslav Kalab, which is available on the Royal Microscopical Society website.

Of course accompanied by real sourdough wholegrain bread baked in out own research bakery.

Inspired by…

“The Science of a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.”

by: Jennifer Kimmel

in: The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking

Edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden


What we did in class this term

Another term of delicious food chemistry – some of our activities…

Happy New Year from me and from ACS!

The chemistry of Thanksgiving dinner – free webinar

Ever wondered about the chemistry behind a great Thanksgiving dinner? Here’s your chance to dazzle your friends with your knowledge of the esoteric and the practical chemistry of this national favorite.

The webinar is presented by Harold McGee and is part of the American Chemical Society’s “Joy of Science” Food Chemistry Series [link].

The series has included these topics

  • Advanced Beer Chemistry and Brewing
  • Cheers! The Chemistry of Wine
  • The Chemistry of Cheese and Why We Love It
  • Advanced Culinary Chemistry – Sizzles for the Summer
  • Advances and Innovations in Wine Chemistry
  • The Chemical Keys to Thanksgiving Dinner [you can register here]

with Top Five Chemistry Tips for the Kitchen to come Feb 16 2012.

The older webinars in the series are available for viewing on the Food Chemistry Series web page

The Thanksgiving presentation will cover…

  • The pros and cons of brining your turkey
  • The two kinds of turkey muscle and how they’re best cooked
  • How heating rates affect the flavor of sweet potatoes
  • Why traditional persimmon pudding is almost black, and how to make it persimmon-colored
  • And much more…



More Kneading Conference West photos

50% barley flour pita: with help from Leslie Mackie of Macrina in Seattle. Leslie showcased some of her breads made with barley and gave her own workshop on her breads. Leslie’s bakery is extremely well regarded – Macrina was named one of the USA’s top 10 bakeries in 2011 by  BON APPÉTIT


Fairhaven mill whole barley flour, pita, & barley  bread in the style of a baguette,.
Barley pretzels, getting ready for the lye [NaOH] dip.
The evening before: getting pain au levain with 10% barley ready for the next mornings workshop

Eat your wholegrains: barley that is!

Photos courtesy of Patrick Hayes, the leader of BARLEYWORLD

Read more:


We’re back – Kneading Conference West

After a long hiatus the blog is being revitalized.

More molecules of the moment to come.

This is wheat I did with my weekend.

reported here

and here

and here

Pictures are courtesy of Meeghen at Breadsong who also makes a killer 80% rye bread that uses the a “scald” or porridge of pre-gelatinized rye flour as part of the process.

The breads come from the session I shared with Leslie Mackie of Macrina Bakeries Seattle on barley in breads.

Other than that I shared a long session on the science of breadmaking and grain and flour testing methods with Lee Glass MD, and Bread Baker’s Guild member.

A day at the office…

My job as a cereal scientist sometimes affords me the joy of a full day of baking, product development, and promotion of our work and the farmers who are putting their money where their mouth is and growing food barley.

In all the products shown below, the flour has a minimum of 10% stone-ground whole barley. The long loaves and the pretzels have 50% wholegrain barley flour and the big sandwich loaves have 50% barley with 35% stone-ground whole-wheat. The remainder is plain baker’s flour.

This was for our successful  “Barley and Friends” field day. {link} held this May 9th.

And good practice for our event at the “Kneading Conference West” in September {link}.

The barley pretzels are, of course, the natural accompaniment to that other barley product, good beer!

Thanks to Jake Mattson of the Oregon State Food Science department for helping to divide, shape, and dip [in 1M NaOH] the 100 pretzels we made!