Chemistry of Cooking
Sorangel Rodriguez-Velazquez, American University
Pub Date: 2016
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The text is rather comprehensive in its discussion of basic principles of general chemistry, up through page 100, and also in the general description read more
The text is rather comprehensive in its discussion of basic principles of general chemistry, up through page 100, and also in the general description of food materials and procedures of food processing. after page 100. What is greatly missing however is the combination of chemistry with cooking, which from the book title I thought would be the major focus. This is greatly lacking, in my opinion.
I did not find anything inaccurate per se, just not all that well-defined in many places (particularly in the cooking section, after page 100. Lots and lots of essential details could have been added, to interject chemistry into understanding the cooking of food and food processing. There are a plethora of typos that need to be fixed, such as the superscripts for cubic centimeter (pages 23/24 an din the glossary on pages 26/27, the subscripted numbers are mangled for H2, F2, Cl2, Br2, I2 (see page 84), TiO2 (page 85, two places), CH2O (page 86), the numbers in C6H12O6, C2H4O2, and CH2O (top to middle of page 86) should be subscripted. On page 88, the two chemical structures shown for D- and L-carvone do not depict stereochemistry, and are thus not proper enantiomeric structures. - they are, in fact, the same compound as drawn. On page 95, lines 1 and 3 under the table 1, the words after "polyatomic" and "oxygen atoms" are too mangled to read, at least on my pdf printout.
The book content can easily be divided into two discreet, non-interactive components: basic principals of general chemistry (pages 1-100), and cooking methods/materials (after page 100). There is virtually no mixing of the two components, although there are plenty of opportunities to do so. For instance, rather than discussing things like fuel cells and cell phones unrelated to cooking (see page 10, figs 11 and 12), the author could include examples from cooking and food processing. When discussing acid-base reactions, the author could leave out the sinkhole example, and perhaps describe food carbonation and release of carbon dioxide in acidic media.There are just very few examples of chemical explanations or of simple chemical phenomena mentioned in the entire cooking section, and there are certainly many scenarios where this can be done.
The text is straightforward enough to read, albeit the embedded figures and schemes are almost irrelevant since they are far too difficult to even see. The much bigger issue regarding clarity are in the many figures and diagrams through out the text. In the pdf I printed out, almost none of the figures and diagrams are legible at all. Some are simply way too small or too blurry to see. Quick examples are Fig 5 (page 6), Figs 6 and 7 (page 7), Fig 9 (page 8), etc etc. In various places (for example, see page 10 and page 86), font appears well outside of the boxes, this is very distracting and unnecessary.
The two components of the book (general chemistry principles versus cooking) seem to be consistent within their own own sections, but there is a clear dissection separating the two components as if two different authors wrote it (which was not actually the case). The general chemistry section is highly detailed, organized and systematic, while the cooking section is mostly verbal descriptions of what things are classified as, without much breakdown of chemical principles involved. Suitable examples are also not consistently presented especially n the cooking section (the ones that are do not seem relevant to cooking). The use of pressure cookers, for instance, to describe rapid food preparation and also a basic general chemistry principle, would be good to include in both sections. Oxidation chemistry is another important thing to put into both sections- rather than fuel cells maybe, talk about how foods cook or brown in air at high temperature through oxidation, or go sour, rancid, spoil, etc if left open to the air.
As described above, the book is essentially two completely independent components on their own, one not benefitting the other. To a chemist, the book is not useful since the general chemistry principles can be found in any other general chemistry text, and to people interested in cooking, the section on that topic is a compendium of descriptions that are either expected to be memorized, or purposely intended not to be related to chemistry.
The author has to find a practical way to completely mix the general chemistry discussions with the cooking sections. I don't know how, but in the present state, there are no correlations between the two, and this makes the book almost useless to its readers.
See items 2 and 4 above, for the comments on this. The graphics really need a lot of work.
The grammar seems suitable for the intended audience.
To my reading, there are no issues of any kind in this regard. Perhaps the author could find pertinent examples of foods and chemistry used in cooking from different cultures to highlight that better, if that seems useful. That would actually add a nice dimension to the book.
I have said enough. The book is on an interesting topic, and with focused effort and critical evaluation fro m her peers, the author could have a gem of a book that would be useful to those interested in chemistry and in cooking. This would be worth the effort in my opinion.
The text covers a wide range of topics, starting with the basics of what is matter and its varying states to discussing the various food ingredients read more
The text covers a wide range of topics, starting with the basics of what is matter and its varying states to discussing the various food ingredients and how they lend themselves to cooking. The topics are covered in a very succinct manner. Each section concludes with exercises and a glossary.
The content is accurate. I did not find any inconsistencies with the material.
The content is up-to-date. The basics will remain the same however updates will need to be added as and when new products and/or processes are introduced/developed within the field/industry.
The text is very straightforward, simple and easy to understand.
The text is consistent across sections. There is a logical pattern that is maintained throughout the text.
The text is modular and can be divided into smaller sections as needed.
The topics are presented in a clear, logical manner.
The interface is easy to access and use. I downloaded a PDF version of the text for review and faced no problems.
I did not encounter and grammatical errors.
The found the text to be inclusive. For instance, when discussing the elements of taste the text listed salty, sweet, sour and bitter but also when on to include Asian elements of Umami, spicy and astringency. There are several other instances throughout the text as well.
This text is written in a manner that is easy to understand and can certainly be used as a text for Food Science/ Food Chemistry at the beginner-level. I like that it has a small section on Herbs and Spices.
The book does a great job covering the subject without much depth so that a beginning chef can clearly and easily understand the content. The topics read more
The book does a great job covering the subject without much depth so that a beginning chef can clearly and easily understand the content. The topics were compared to everyday situations, making it very easy to relate to, even to the self taught chef or cooking enthusiast.
To my knowledge the text is accurate in both aspects of cooking and chemistry. The index is concise and the glossary at the end of each chapter does a good job at simply summarizing key points and definitions.
Basic chemistry like the topics discussed in the text (atoms, molecules, ions, measurements, energy basics, periodic table,etc.) should be relevant for a long time. It does a good job helping to understand the relevance of chemistry in cooking. I would imagine cooking techniques can vary, but the information in this text is fundamental basics that would remain relevant.
The parts of the book I could relate to, and have basic understanding of, were very clearly written and appropriate for the intended audience. More importantly, topics unfamiliar to me were clearly written in a way that I have a better understanding of the concepts without confusion.
The author did an excellent job of keeping the book terminology consistent from chapter to chapter, building on key concepts and integrating the information as it related to each different topic.
The book has a clearly written table of content identifying each topic and subtopics in each chapter. Each section is small, yet thorough, which would make it easy to cover the intended content in an ample amount of time. When clicking on the chapter heading or subtopic in the table of content it directs you directly to that section of the book.
The material flows in a logical sequence. The text begins with the basics of chemistry and flows into cooking techniques and finally into understanding basic ingredients.
Being able to jump to specific chapters and subtopics quickly is very beneficial to students. This would be a must for me if there was an OER available in my line of expertise.
This book appeared to be free from grammatical error.
This text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.
As a self taught chef, meaning I really don't know much at all, this book did a really good job at simplifying processes in cooking and helping mem to understand basic ingredients and what they are used for. Some of the information in the chemistry chapters will be integrated into my Basics of Chemistry cosmetology course. Great book!
Table of Contents
- Essential Ideas Introduction
- Phases and Classification of Matter
- Physical and Chemical Properties
- Measurement Uncertainty, Accuracy, and Precision
- Mathematical Treatment of Measurement Results
- Energy Basics
Atoms, Molecules, and Ions
- The Periodic Table
- Atoms, Molecules, and Ions
- Atomic Structure and Symbolism
- Chemical Formulas
- Molecular and Ionic Compounds
Cooking Techniques: Thickening and Concentrating Flavors
- Thickening Agents
- Types of Thickening Agents
- Non-traditional thickeners
- Low-temperature and sous-vide
Understanding Ingredients: Flour
- Introduction -- Understanding Ingredients
- The History of Wheat Flour
- Milling of Wheat
- Flour Streams and Types of Wheat Flour
- Flour Terms and Treatments
- Flour Additives
- Whole Grain and Artisan Milling
- Flour in Baking
- Rye Flour
- Other Grains and Flours
Understanding Ingredients: Fat
- Understanding Fats and Oils
- Sources of Bakery Fats and Oils
- Major Fats and Oils Used in Bakeries
- Functions of Fat in Baking
Understanding Ingredients: Sugar
- Sugar Chemistry (ADD US)
- Sugar Refining
- The Application of Sugar
- Maple Syrup (ADD US)
- Sugar Substitutes (ADD US)
Understanding Ingredients: Leavening Agents
- Introduction to Leavening Agents
- The Functions of Yeast
- Using Yeast in Baking
- Introduction to Acid- bases
- Brønsted-Lowry Acids and Bases
- pH and pOH
- Baking Powder
- Sodium Bicarbonate
- Ammonium Bicarbonate
- Water Hardness and pH
Understanding Ingredients: Dairy Products
- Introduction to Dairy Products
- Milk Products ADD US
- Milk in bread baking
Understanding Ingredients: Eggs
- Eggs Grade (ADD US)
- Composition and Nutrition
- Egg Products
- The Function of Eggs
- Storing Eggs
- From the Cocoa Bean to the Finished Chocolate
- Chocolate Produced for the Baking Industry
- Definitions and Regulations (ADD US)
Understanding Ingredients: Spices
- Elements of Taste
- Introduction to Salt
- Types of Salt
- Functions of Salt in Baking
- Using Salt in Fermented Doughs
- Storing Salt
- Introduction to Spices and Other Flavorings
- Seasoning and Flavoring
- Flavorings in Baking
About the Book
People around the world are fascinated about the preparation of food for eating. There are countless cooking books, TV shows, celebrity chefs and kitchen gadgets that make cooking an enjoyable activity for everyone. The chemistry of cooking course seeks to understand the science behind our most popular meals by studying the behavior of atoms and molecules present in food. This book is intended to give students a basic understanding of the chemistry involved in cooking such as caramelization, Maillard reaction, acid-base reactions, catalysis, and fermentation. Students will be able to use chemistry language to describe the process of cooking, apply chemistry knowledge to solve questions related to food, and ultimately create their own recipes.
About the Contributors
Sorangel Rodriguez-Velazquez is a Professorial Lecturer in Department of Chemistry at American University.