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Publisher's Summary

When you're cooking, you're a chemist! Every time you follow or modify a recipe you are experimenting with acids and bases, emulsions and suspensions, gels and foams. In your kitchen you denature proteins, crystallize compounds, react enzymes with substrates, and nurture desired microbial life while suppressing harmful microbes. And unlike in a laboratory, you can eat your experiments to verify your hypotheses.

In Culinary Reactions, author Simon Quellen Field explores the chemistry behind the recipes you follow every day. How does altering the ratio of flour, sugar, yeast, salt, butter, and water affect how high bread rises? Why is whipped cream made with nitrous oxide rather than the more common carbon dioxide? And why does Hollandaise sauce fall for "clarified" butter? This easy-to-follow primer even includes recipes to demonstrate the concepts being discussed, including Whipped Creamsicle Topping (a foam), Cherry Dream Cheese (a protein gel), and Lemonade with Chameleon Eggs (an acid indicator). It even shows you how to extract DNA from a Halloween pumpkin. You'll never look at your graduated cylinders, Bunsen burners, and beakers the same way again.

©2012 Simon Quellen Field (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

“With information advanced enough to interest the well-seasoned, hard-boiled home cook, the information in this book is written in such a friendly and approachable manner that even beginner kitchen-chemists will be delighted to learn from it." ( San Francisco Book Review)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    4 out of 5 stars

Kitchen Science

The book contains a lot of kitchen science (atoms, electrons, protons, particles, and ions) but it provides the basics to understand cooking reactions and components of food (such as the difference between bread flour, cake flour, and all-purpose flour). It's technical and goes deep into each topic. Some chapters are more interesting than others. For example, the author should have left out the chapter on making cheese (really, how many people are going to make cheese at home).

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A story of the arts

This fascinating book is distastefully dense in animal foods. The narrator could not sound less excited. The book explains absolute gems from food-science. This book is a must.

0 of 8 people found this review helpful