Got a foodie question?

Have a food question? Ask it here!

You can also contact me directly via email: foodsciencesecrets@gmail.com

17 thoughts

  1. I enjoy your website. Here’s my question: Is the beer that I leave on a shelf in my garage losing quality? How long can beer be safely stored?

  2. Okay, so I saw this on one of your very first posts, but it hasn’t yet been covered in full… and my first attempt at making my own whipped cream is fast approaching… so I’m anxiously awaiting the answer! I guess my specific questions are: when should you stop whisking, and how do you tell if/when the freshly whipped cream will eventually collapse?

    “Consider this: You whip up a batch of airy, fresh whipped cream to top your latest fave dessert recipe. You serve some now, and reserve the rest in the mixer bowl for use tomorrow. But the next day you notice a milky liquid pooled at the bottom of your bowl. What’s the liquid? Is it safe to eat? How did it separate from the cream/foam? How do you prevent that liquid from occurring in your next batch?

  3. There are a few ways to make great fresh whipped cream. In my own kitchen, I whip heavy cream in a standup mixer (my biceps are too wimpy for a hand whisk). For just enough subtle sweetness, I also add in a few tablespoons of powdered sugar, which dissolves easily. Some people use superfine sugar. My mom likes to sub in Splenda or Truvia, which is nice with fresh berries.

    Usually, I whip until the cream has (roughly) doubled in volume and forms stable peaks. I like my whipped cream to be pretty stiff in texture, but you can tailor yours according to preference. Keep in mind if you whip too long the cream can morph into butter. You’ll know when you whip too much because the cream will take on a new curd-like texture.

    Your fresh whipped cream likely won’t collapse before serving, but you may get some weeping if you attempt to store it in the fridge too long. (This has happened to me – several times. I whip a pint of cream then try to reserve the excess for leftovers the next day. It’s safe to eat a day later, but the liquid is a little off-putting.) If you make the whipped cream like I mentioned above, try storing it in a strainer on top of a bowl to catch the liquid. Or, if you plan to use your whipped cream hours/days after prep, try a recipe that includes gelatin. Gelatin will provide more stability, and can keep a few days with reduced seepage.

    Really, whipped cream is an emulsion not so different from what occurs in ice cream. When you whip the cream, you’re forcing air bubbles in. Whipping causes the fat globules (heavy cream is ~30% fat) to coalesce, or link together. The clusters of fat globules form something like a 3-D web, surrounding the air bubbles. This science is pretty temperature dependent, so don’t forget to use cold cream and utensils – this will help the whipped cream to form a more stable structure.

    Someone gave me a handy pressurized whip cream dispenser for Christmas last year, and I love it. If you anticipate a lot of fresh cream to accompany your tasty treats, consider buying one! You just add a your cream, the N2O charger, shake, and enjoy!

  4. Absolutely LOVE your blog! I have some questions about cooking oils. I heard that most oil is already rancid by the time we actually get around to using it. Is this true? How would rancid oil affect the taste/quality of the end product? And is there any difference between canola oil and vegetable oil?

  5. So why did some cans of pop get cold and erupt in my garage while others did not? Any tips for keeping them from freezing?

    Thanks.

    1. This is an interesting question. I had to call the big soda manufacturers to get their response.

      Coke recommends their canned sodas be stored under refrigeration or at room temp. If exposed to extreme temperatures (such as frigid winters), Coke recognizes that cans may explode. I asked for explanation on WHY the temperature-abused cans explode, but there wasn’t a great response. I’m waiting for a response from Pepsi – I’ll update with a new reply when I hear back.

      My thoughts…
      – We can assume all cans (exploding and non-exploding) contain the same formula/ingredients, right? So, since all cans didn’t explode, I wonder if it’s a packaging failure instead of a formula issue. Did the can always break in the same place?
      – You could try a down-n-dirty home experiment. Find 4 cans from the same lot code and carton. Put 1 can in the house (room temp), 1 can in the fridge, 1 can in the freezer, and 1 can in the garage. Try to keep the room temp, fridge, and freezer samples at a constant temp. The garage sample will undergo temperature fluctuation as the weather changes. Monitor changes. Disclaimer: if pop explodes, I’m not volunteering for the clean up crew. : )
      – This sort of challenge arises all the time in the food industry. Often, it’s not clear if the root cause of the issue is with an ingredient, a processing technique, the packaging material, or the product/customer interface. So, a technical team is assembled to understand the issue, complete an analysis, and derive a solution.

    1. Interesting article! Takes me back to the books! 🙂
      I do think there’s truth here, yes. And certainly, based on the cooking style of those I’ve spent most time with in the kitchen…the idea of American food pairings stemming from multiple shared flavor compounds makes sense. However, as the article mentions, there’s probably much to consider. How are recipes being modified and customized? (Are chefs and home cooks truly developing new recipes and exploring compound pairing, or is one similar ingredient being swapped for another purely so the cook can call the recipe “their own?”) And of course, in discussion about flavor compounds, I was glad to see the article made mention of how ingredients change based on the method of cooking. (Because, we know different reactions can severely adjust flavor – consider how roasted vegetables taste so much different than boiled vegetables.)
      Thanks for passing this along. I’d be interested in more discussion, for sure. What are your thoughts?

  6. Hi,

    I recently bought turkey meat from the local grocery store deli. It looks fine, but when opening the package it has a faint smell of a dead animal. Is the turkey rancid or is this a normal phenomenon due to the turkey being packaged in plastic? I hate to discard a whole pound of turkey, but I am concerned.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Tina,
      I understand your concern. Fresh turkey deli meat shouldn’t smell like a dead animal. When tasters describe rancid turkey, often the words “stale,” “oxidized,” and “cardboard” come up. It doesn’t sound like what you’re describing with your turkey. The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service has made available a lot of great food safety information on their website. You might check it out when you get a chance: http://www.fsis.usda.gov. On the site, they give recommendations on storage time, what to look for with product dating, and much more. If it were me, I probably wouldn’t eat the turkey.

  7. Any ideas on the best flour for strudel? My guess is that a high gluten content is required but many writers don’t specify or claim that a general purpose flour is suitable.

    1. Hi Simon:
      Strudel…yum! I would agree with you, for a traditional, homemade strudel, I’d probably recommend a high gluten flour. As you know, the best strudel doughs are very pliable and elastic, which yield thin layers in the finished product. That elasticity in dough is created by the development of the gluten network via kneading. Many recipes I found while doing a quick internet cruise have substituted phyllo dough or puff pastry for the traditional homemade dough…it’s the easy way to achieve those thin, (almost flaky) layers. But, your homemade version sounds so delicious (and much more impressive)!
      I suppose you could give all purpose flour a shot, too. I’d be curious how your results differ. If you decide to try two different iterations of strudel dough, let me know how it turns out!
      Suddenly I’m craving a sweet treat with my coffee… 🙂

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