Space Oddity – ethyl formate, raspberries & rum

The Guardian reports that astronomers looking for amino acids in deep space have found raspberry flavor instead…

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald – with a good cartoon.

and other links if that doesn’t work


Results are to be released this week at European Week of Astronomy and Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire. In this presentation… First detections of interstellar ethyl formate and N-propyl cyanide: Dust chemistry strikes again.  Robin Garrod – Cornell.

From “Fir0002/Flagstaffotos” under the following licence…


This image has been released into the public domain by its author, Benjah-bmm27. This applies worldwide.

For more on ethyl formate go here…

Are these the “hot” topics?

The most viewed article in each of these journals through the 4th quarter of 2008. An interesting mix from wine maturation to antioxidants in cereals and in vegetables, packaging and lignocellulosic biomass, and gluten-free breads

Most downloaded from

Cereal Chemistry

(list is updated each day based on the volume of full text downloads).

Network Formation in Gluten-Free Bread with Application of Transglutaminase. Michelle M. Moore, Meike Heinbockel, Peter Dockery, H. M. Ulmer, and Elke K. Arendt
Cereal Chemistry 2006, Volume 83, Number 1: 28-36.

Abstract excerpt: One of the main problems associated with gluten-free bread is obtaining a good structure…

From the IFT weekly newsletter:

A study published in the Journal of Food Science shows the influence of home cooking methods on the antioxidant activity of 20 vegetables.

Influence of Cooking Methods on Antioxidant Activity of Vegetables. A. M. JIM´ENEZ-MONREAL, L. GARC´IA-DIZ, M. MART´INEZ-TOM´E, M. MARISCAL, AND M. A.MURCIA.Journal of Food Science. Volume 74 Issue 3, Pages H97 – H103

Abstract excerpt: The influence of home cooking methods (boiling, microwaving, pressure-cooking, griddling, frying, and baking) on the antioxidant activity of vegetables has been evaluated in 20 vegetables, using different antioxidant activity assays (lipoperoxyl and hydroxyl radicals scavenging and TEAC). Artichoke was the only vegetable that kept its very high scavenging-lipoperoxyl radical capacity in all the cooking methods…

Science Direct’s most viewed articles – October through December 2008

Trends in Food Science & Technology

Biodegradable polymers for food packaging: a review. Valentina Siracusa, Pietro Rocculi, Santina Romani and Marco Dalla Rosa

Abstract excerpt: For a long time polymers have supplied most of common packaging materials because they present several desired features like softness, lightness and transparency. However, increased use of synthetic packaging films has led to a serious ecological problems due to their total non-biodegradability…

Food Chemistry

Chemical studies of anthocyanins: A review
Food Chemistry, Volume 113, Issue 4, Pages 859-871
Castaneda-Ovando, A.; Pacheco-Hernandez, Ma.d.L.; Paez-Hernandez, Ma.E.; Rodriguez, J.A.; Galan-Vidal, C.A.

Abstract excerpt: Anthocyanins are natural colorants which have raised a growing interest due to their extensive range of colours, innocuous and beneficial health effects. Despite the great potential of application that anthocyanins represent for food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, their use has been limited because of their relative instability and low extraction percentages…

Food Research International

Asian noodles: History, classification, raw materials, and processing. Food Research International, Volume 41, Issue 9, Pages 888-902
Fu, B.X.

Abstract excerpt: Noodles in various contents, formulations, and shapes have been the staple foods for many Asian countries since ancient time. They can be made from wheat, rice, buckwheat, and starches derived from potato, sweet potato, and pulses…

The above article is from my colleague Bin Xiao Fu of the Canadian International Grains Institute about a specialty research area we share. My article is sixth most downloaded from “Cereal Chemistry”  Instrumental Measurement of Physical Properties of Cooked Asian Wheat Flour Noodles. Andrew S. Ross. Cereal Chemistry 2006, Volume 83, Number 1: 42-51.

Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies

The effects of AC electric field on wine maturation. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, Volume 9, Issue 4, Pages 463-468
Zeng, X.A.; Yu, S.J.; Zhang, L.; Chen, X.D.

Abstract excerpt: A pilot plant scale innovative technique applying AC high voltage electric field to accelerate wine aging of Young Cabernet Sauvignon is reported in this paper…

Journal of Cereal Science

Is the in vitro antioxidant potential of whole-grain cereals and cereal products well reflected in vivo? Journal of Cereal Science, Volume 48, Issue 2, Pages 258-276
Fardet, A.; Rock, E.; Remesy, C.

Abstract excerpt: There is strong epidemiological evidence that whole-grain cereals protect the body against age-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers…

LWT – Food Science and Technology

Application of molecular identification tools for Lactobacillus, with a focus on discrimination between closely related species: A review. LWT – Food Science and Technology, Volume 42, Issue 2, Pages 448-457. Singh, S.; Goswami, P.; Singh, R.; Heller, K.J.

Abstract excerpt: Lactobacillus is among the most important GRAS food lactic acid bacteria, with nearly 140 species at present, mostly of industrial importance. Being part of the natural flora of a range of food products like raw milk, fermented dairy products, fruits, vegetables, meat products they also serve as starters for a number of fermented food products either to enhance the quality or to add health benefits…

Journal of Food Engineering

A review of life cycle assessment (LCA) on some food products. Journal of Food Engineering, Volume 90, Issue 1, Pages 1-10. Roy, P.; Nei, D.; Orikasa, T.; Xu, Q.; Okadome, H.; Nakamura, N.; Shiina, T.

Abstract excerpt: Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool that can be used to evaluate the environmental load of a product, process, or activity throughout its life cycle. Today’s LCA users are a mixture of individuals with skills in different disciplines who want to evaluate their products, processes, or activities in a life cycle context. This study attempts to present some of the LCA studies on agricultural and industrial food products, recent advances in LCA and their application on food products…

Food Hydrocolloids

Fish gelatin: properties, challenges, and prospects as an alternative to mammalian gelatins. Food Hydrocolloids, Volume 23, Issue 3, Pages 563-576
Karim, A.A.; Bhat, R.

Abstract excerpt: Food and pharmaceutical industries all over the world are witnessing an increasing demand for collagen and gelatin. Mammalian gelatins (porcine and bovine), being the most popular and widely used, are subject to major constraints and skepticism among consumers due to socio-cultural and health-related concerns. Fish gelatin (especially from warm-water fish) reportedly possesses similar characteristics to porcine gelatin and may thus be considered as an alternative to mammalian gelatin for use in food products. Production and utilization of fish gelatin not only satisfies the needs of consumers, but also serves as a means to utilize some of the byproducts of the fishing industry…

Food Quality and Preference

Obesity and emotions: Differentiation in emotions felt towards food between obese, overweight and normal-weight adolescents • Food Quality and Preference, Volume 20, Issue 1, Pages 62-68. Barthomeuf, L.; Droit-Volet, S.; Rousset, S.

Abstract excerpt: The current study examined variations in the emotional intensity felt towards food pictures as a function of the participants’ body mass index (BMI). A total of 111 adolescents were instructed to actually imagine eating 30 food products illustrated in a picture and to rate their emotions on a five-point scale…

Bioresource Technology

Pretreatments to enhance the digestibility of lignocellulosic biomass • Bioresource Technology, Volume 100, Issue 1, Pages 10-18. Hendriks, A.T.W.M.; Zeeman, G.

Abstract excerpt: Lignocellulosic biomass represents a rather unused source for biogas and ethanol production. Many factors, like lignin content, crystallinity of cellulose, and particle size, limit the digestibility of the hemicellulose and cellulose present in the lignocellulosic biomass. Pretreatments have as a goal to improve the digestibility of the lignocellulosic biomass…

No-knead breads

This was my response to an inquiry about no-knead breads from Martin Lersch at Khymos.


Certainly have heard of “no-knead” type breads, and there are many many variants on the theme. They rely on mixing that incompletely develops the gluten coupled with a long (often very long) bulk fermentation.

There is a subtle dance between extent of mixing [well undermixed through to a completely developed doughs] and the length of the the first or bulk fermentation. A dough mixed minimally [so-called short mix] requires a long fermentation and often much less yeast.

Doughs mixed rapidly to full development, such as in the production of “industrial-syle” breads, that receive intense mechanical mixing generally have a very short first or bulk fermentation, so short in fact that it’s often just called “floor time”. This process is common for sandwich breads in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and maybe other Anglo-influenced countries. Despite the arguments of E.J. Pyler in “Baking Science and Technology” (1973 Siebel Publishing) these breads lack the flavor that a long slow fermentation can provide. One of the reasons: The bakers I have learned from correctly show that continuing to mix mechanically to full development entrains so much air into the dough that the O2 in the air bleaches out the carotenoid pigments of the flour and this is detrimental to the taste as well as the color (white instead of an attractive warm ivory or off-white). However, getting air into the dough is important [see ] as the CO2 produced by fermentation cannot produce gas cells unless there are existing air cells to nuceate the gas cell and where the CO2 from the saturated aqueous phase can leak.

Anyway, you still need to develop the gluten to get adequate gas holding capacity. This is done during the long bulk fermentation. The key is to is stretch and fold the dough a number of times depending on water and the type of flour. Water is a factor – the bread pictured here, which I have shown before…

…had a short mix and 4 folds during a 3-4 hour bulk fermentation – the dough needs to be let rest between folding operations to allow the stresses in the gluten polymers to relax enough to make the dough workable again without tearing it. This bread had 82% water addition [baker’s percents] and all the breads pictured here had at least 65% water. With less water, maybe fewer folds would be needed, but all undermixed doughs need some stretching and folding. If you use this search string in Google video “artisan baking stretch and fold” you’ll see videos of a couple of stretch and fold techniques as well as one here, that I find a bit fussy. The technique I learned at the The San Francisco Baking Institute was a little more straightforward but I don’t have a video.

Most “artisan” style breads do have higher water than you’d find in industrial processed breads an this leads to better fermentation, and a more desirable crumb texture, and if you are aiming for it a more open crumb structure (look again at the 82% hydration ciabatta pictured in the 2nd link above). The machining in industrial production limits the amount of water as stickiness is a big issue in mechanized manufacture. The high water additions themselves don’t completely remove the need for some physical deformations of the dough – this stretches out the glutenins to allow them to interact – but it does mean the gluten is well hydrated and easier to develop.

Just today I found an article in “Slate” magazine about a new no-knead book “Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads” by Nancy Baggett and there are other links in there to more no-knead resources. I guess from the Sullivan Street reference in your message you’ve seen this – from Mark Bittman.

Crusts: I have used, instead of an iron pot, a hot terracotta “cloche” that does the same job and creates an excellent crust (if everything else was done correctly), as you said by trapping the steam from the dough. This is a great way to get the crust a little like you might get out of a good deck oven, in a home oven. The other neccesity is a stone to bake the bread on. The thermal mass seals the bottom and drives the expansion upwards leading to better opening of cuts and more attractive bread with a more open interior.

<<Are you aware of any tables of baker’s percentages for different kinds of breads?>> Not internet-based, but the good baking books do have them.

You can see a version of no-knead on a video at

Starcheology –

A talk to be given at our sister U, 60 km south of here, by Dr. Judith Field, Senior Research Associate, Australian Key Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, University of Sydney, Australia reminded me of a fantastic site I have kept an eye on for years. The reason was, that apart from her main lecture on fauna extinctions,  Dr Field is to give an hour talk with students and faculty about her recent work on starch analysis (11-12 pm Apr 15 Condon 204). Dr Field has a beautiful photomicrograph image of starch granules from the yam species Dioscorea bulbifera on her personal web page.

Anyway, the website I remembered is co-authored by Delwen Samuel and Mark Nesbitt. It is called and if you are a baker or brewer it is worth a look to get some historical perspective on “modern” enzymatic technological breakthroughs that are in fact 1000s of years old.

I loved it. I found it when I was working in Denmark for an enzyme manufacturer, specifically a paper by Delwen Samuel that indicated the deliberate use of malted grain, and its attendant enzymes, mostly amylase, by ancient Egyptians to improve their bread – nothing new under the sun !  Samuel used microscopic techniques to look at the channelling and pitting of starch granules found in ancient bread and beer remains. (Samuel, D. 1996. Investigation of ancient Egyptian baking and brewing methods by correlative microscopy. Science 273:488-490.)

The 2001 chapters in  The Oxford Encyclopedia of ancient Egypt on “Bread” and “Beer” are also fascinating.

2001. “Bread,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of ancient Egypt. Edited by D. B. Redford, pp. 196-198. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2001. “Beer,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of ancient Egypt. Edited by D. B. Redford, pp. 171-172. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Uncooked wheat starch granules – birefringent when viewed with a polarizing light microscope.