Yet another classic from Khymos…

Get your amphetamines from gingerbread “in furno”

If the coffee has to be caffeine free, maybe getting your jollies from ammonium carbonate leavened gingerbread will dull the cravings.

Martin Lersch goes through the basic chemistry at his blog. As he points out the fullt text of the more recent paper can be retrieved at this link   Idle J.R. 2005

Christmas Gingerbread (Lebkuchen) and Christmas Cheer – Review of the Potential Role of Mood Elevating Amphetamine-like Compounds Formed in vivo and in furno” by the unfortunately named J.R. Idle

Food chemistry at its finest.


available under a Creative Commons license via petar_cs Flickr photostream

available under a Creative Commons license via petar_c's Flickr photostream

Real natural Decaf

A species of coffee from Cameroon is caffeine free.

Read about it here where it was named one of the top 10 new species of 2009 (named in 2008) by the

International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University.

Coffee and Conservation report that the plant was was “first collected in 1983, but remained unstudied and not described to science until 2008” in their post.

Stoffelen, P., M. Noirot, E. Couturon & F. Anthony. 2008. A new caffeine-free coffee from Cameroon. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 158: 67-72.

OSU campus-based folks can see the full text of the paper via this link


“A new Coffea species from Cameroon is described and compared with the other species of Central Africa. Coffea charrieriana Stoff. & F. Anthony can be recognized easily using morphological characters of leaves, flowers and fruits. Moreover, it is the first record of a caffeine-free Coffea species for Central Africa and only the second report for the African continent. Cameroon is one of the three centres of diversity for the genus Coffea, showing a similar number of species to that of Tanzania. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 158, 67–72″.

It seems that caffeine free coffee species are rare. I don’t know how long it takes to breed new coffee varieties, but i am sure someone is working on getting the caffeine-free trait into a cultivatable form. Stay tuned.

As a dedicated caffeine devotee I vote that the new variety should be called “What’s the point?” in honor of the no-fat decaf latte.


The search for perfect texture

Links to the Texture Technologies student video contest entries for 2009.

These can be found at Texture Technologies’ Youtube channel “The Texture Channel

The videos are from a number of colleges, Kansas State U, Brigham Young U, U of Arkansas, Indiana U, West Virginia U, and South Dakota State U, as well as us here at OregonState

Lots of thought went into these and we know at least that ours was fun to make.

Lab cats love laminar flow

From a “Lab Cat” post from May 2008.  Lab Cat was kind enough to link to this blog.

This is a visually compelling look at laminar flow. This was filmed at the University of New Mexico Physics Department.

You need to listen to the video to get what they are doing.

Lab Cat has some very interesting and credible food chemistry related posts if you track back through her posts via the tags; “chemistry“, “food“, and “science“.

Lab Cat seems very interested in Non-enzymatic browning – arguably the most important set of reactions in food science.

Trivia and ephemera – bubbles and rheology exposed

A great new gallery

Brought to my attention by a former student – many thanks P.

A special item from New Scientist all about imag[in]ing fluid dynamics. The images come from physicists at the American Physical Society’s [link] Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. New Scientist though that these were their best experimental images in their “gallery of fluid motion“. You can see more here [red dye splash in milk] and here.

What’s  “foody”  about this?

Well it’s all the chemistry of surfaces and polymers in solution etc that guide the behaviors of foods when they are deformed by a force or forces during mixing, or emulsification/homogenization, or carbonation, or foaming, or chewing, or during fermentation in breadmaking etc.

In the New Scientist gallery these images were most “food chemistry” for me.

Image 2 – the “anti-bubbles” – these must be present in liquid food systems with mixtures of entrained air and surfactants under vigorous mixing.

Image 3 – injecting ketchup into gelatin. Not sure why you would do this to food, except as a physics experiment, but the choice of a polymeric gel and an odd material [ketchup] that has a high concentration of particulates and exhibits a yield stress is interesting. It makes me wonder what the shape might have been had they injected,  say a 2% w/v xanthan solution using a high molecular weight xanthan? Maybe this is a way of creating new and intriguing compoite textures.

Image 4 – Weird behavior at immiscible interfaces. maybe this is what the micro-structure of an un-emulsified vinaigrette looks like before it’s shaken up and just after we hit it with the laser stun gun.

Image 5 – splashing behavior of viscous fluids – is their a new idea in creating new shapes/textures/products by “splashing” at low atmospheric pressures where the fluid just spreads – maybe a neat way of creating smooth amorphous glassy solids*  from polymer solutions or melts by quenching on a cold surfaces at low pressure.

* as opposed to structured crystalline solids

Image 7 – This is just cool, maybe what a drop of really thick gelatine solution looks like dropping into hot water where it is soluble.

Image 9 – bubble behavior – just very interesting and salient to all the bubbles we create in all sorts of foods and beverages.

And if you think bubbles in food are just trivial then you might need to defend that concept against the editors, authors, and presenters and the 2 Bubbles in Food Conferences and the 2 books of proceedings that came from them.

Bubbles in food –

Beer, champagne, bread, cakes, biscuits/cookies, bubbled chocolates, the crema on an espresso, the  foaminess of  lattes or meringues, expanded extruded snack foods, the giant bubble that is pita bread baked well.

We clearly love bubbles – one of the seemingly most trivial and often most ephemeral structures in foods.

pain l ancienne crumb 2