Kitchen Science: What’s the Difference Between Brown and White Sugar?

We know that, scientifically speaking, brown sugar makes better song lyrics than white sugar, but what is the actual chemical difference between the two? Learn why brown sugar clumps up, how you can unclump it, and what it’s good for.

Source: Kitchen Science: What’s the Difference Between Brown and White Sugar?

It’s interesting how important an ingredient can be to a recipe.  Cooking is an art, but baking is science (for hungry people™).

Don’t be fooled – organic white sugar is still just as “processed” as white sugar.  “Organic” only means how it is farmed, not processed.

How Good Salt is Made, The Old and Simple Way

Two peanuts were walking down the street, one was assaulted… 😉

There is a good sized list of edible salts that all have unique properties. It is the impurities that give them each a slightly different flavour and/or colour. The boutique salt places could mimic them with the correct additions, just like we can brew alcohol for beer or wine…

That said, dismissing common table salt is a bad idea.  Common table salt is iodized, to prevent iodine deficiency.  Iodisation of salt may be the world’s simplest and most cost-effective measure available to improve health.  The practice originated in Switzerland, and has been adopted throughout the world.

What Makes Water Wet?

Donning his regular work attire—jeans and a Hawaiian shirt—Richard Saykally tells me in four words the answer to a question I had often pondered in the shower: Why is water wet?

Source: Ingenious: Richard Saykally

Just the phrase “strong tetrahedral hydrogen bonding” may not mean much to you. It starts to mean a little more though when you think not just about how it fits together, but also the ways in which water’s tetrahedral hydrogen bonds are unusual.

Ice Cubes: Shrinkage, Bad Taste and Freezer Burn

Why do ice cubes in my freezer shrink over time?

In a word: sublimation. It’s a phase transition where a solid goes directly to a gas/vapor, with no liquid intermediate phase.  Fun fact: evaporation happens at that temperature as well. That’s how very cold places like the North Pole still have snow storms.

Evaporation and sublimation are not synonyms – there’s a meaningful difference.  Under normal circumstances, a phase transition would be solid to liquid to gas, while sublimation is solid to gas without the stopover in the liquid state.  Specific conditions which have to be met in order for sublimation to occur.

Why do “freezer burned” ice cubes taste bad?

A freezer isn’t at a constant temperature. Other things in the freezer are sublimating as well. The liquid inside the frozen peas… that mystery meat in the back you’ve forgotten about… etc. Trace amounts are being refrozen into those ice cubes. You’re tasting the flavors of various spoiled things.

It starts as soon as you put the ice in the freezer as water.  You can minimize the impact by putting the ice cube tray in a bag, and using filtered/demineralized water.  But ice is porous, as is plastic. If it sits long enough, everything but probably glass will absorb odor.  So you’re probably best to prepare a tray before you need the cubes.

What is freezer burn, exactly, and how does it happen?

It most commonly occurs with frost-free freezers.

On a regular basis, freezers will heat up the walls so any frost build-up melts. During this time, the outside layer of anything in there can melt a little.  Once the defrost cycle is done, everything refreezes – usually with a fresh layer of condensation from the temperature bounce, which will damage the cells in the food over time. Ice cream will taste icy and bland, frozen peas will get mushy, etc.  A chest freezer doesn’t do this, and so you see much less freezer burn.