Scientists Say This Is How Long To Dunk A Cookie

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By Cooking Panda

Hold your cookie in milk for too long, and it disintegrates into a mush pile. Dunk it too fast, and it remains dry and pointless.

It’s tricky, but there’s a delicate balance when it comes to The Dunk. You have to have the touch, and it can be a real dilemma to get it just right.

If you find yourself unsure of how long exactly to drown your biscuit, you’re not alone — that’s why we have turned to science to find the optimal dipping time. They did not disappoint.

“We’ve always had, like, these crazy ideas, I guess you’d say,” explained Dr. Tadd Truscott, part of the Utah State University team who conducted the study, according to KSL. “We were always saying, ‘We should be always curious, asking as many questions as we can.’ … That question kept coming up, like, ‘What is the best dunking time?’ And everybody kind of argued about it.”

It took them about two weeks, but they got to the bottom of it. Turns out that most cookies ought to be dunked for about four seconds.

“I guess for the serious cookie drinker, they really want to know,” said Truscott.

The team experimented on a variety of cookies, from graham crackers to Nutter Butters to Oreos, to learn exactly how they absorb liquid and at what point they soak up the highest amount of milk. And they found that each cookie “draws in milk at roughly the same rate.”

An Oreo, they discovered, absorbs about half the possible liquid after one second. At four seconds, it has absorbed about as much as it ever will, making it the perfect dunk duration. After five seconds, you’re getting into mush territory.

“What’s happened is the sugars are starting to break down as well as proteins and the more complicated structure within,” Truscott explained of the five-second mark.

In a similar, very important but less scientific experiment conducted by HuffPost in 2014, testers noted that Oreos will disintegrate after a minute and suggested dipping for 2.5 seconds if you like your Oreo crunchy.

Of course, each type of cookie varies somewhat.

“What it means for you and me is that if you have a graham cracker, you’ve got to hurry and shove it in your mouth. If you have an Oreo, you can finish your sentence,” said Truscott, according to KSL.

​Sources: KSL, HuffPost / Featured Image: Carsten Schertzer/Flickr

Tags: cookie science, food science, how long to dunk cookie, Oreo dunk, scientific food study
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Turns Out You Shouldn’t Drink Your Whiskey Neat

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By Cooking Panda

Whiskey and scotch drinkers have probably been told at least once to put a few drops of water into their glass, rather than drinking the booze neat. But those who say that the flavors “open up” with that bit of water most likely can’t say why.

Well, scientists have confirmed that those folks are right — in some cases, anyway — and it all has to do with this thing called guaiacol, a molecule found in whiskey.

It also helps to explain why it tastes best when distillers use water to dilute the caramel-colored booze down to around 40 percent alcohol by volume, even though it typically comes out of the distilling process at around 70 percent ABV.

In an article published in the journal Scientific Reports, authors Bjorn C. G. Karlsson and Ran Friedman documented how they used a computer to measure interactions between water and guaiacol. They found that in whiskey with an ABV of 45 percent and lower, the guaiacol rises to the top of the glass, improving the smell and taste.

“This indicates that the taste of guaiacol in the whisky would be enhanced upon dilution prior to bottling,” the authors wrote in the journal. “Our findings may apply to other flavor-giving amphipathic molecules and could contribute to optimizing the production of spirits for desired tastes.”

But at a higher ABV such as 59 percent, the guaiacol doesn’t stay at the surface. Instead, it tends to sink, getting distributed evenly throughout the glass, which means that the aroma isn’t as strong or close to your nose. So if you’re drinking whiskey, add a couple of drops of water if the ABV is above 45 percent.

If the ABV is much lower than that, you might want to stick to drinking your whiskey neat — and make sure you don’t overdo it.

“We have receptors on our tongue, in our nose, that are sensitive and depend upon the concentration of the specific components you want to detect with your nose and tongue,” Karlsson said, according to NPR. “So if it’s too diluted there’s a risk that you actually don’t detect it with your nose or your tongue.”

Sources: Scientific Reports, NPR / Featured Image: Pixabay

Tags: drink science, food science, neat, scientific best way to drink scotch, whiskey
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Don’t Smell The Cake, It Might Make You Gain Weight

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By Cooking Panda

You know when you’re walking through the mall, shopping and minding your own business, and an absolutely irresistible aroma completely overpowers your olfactory senses and lures you in. All of a sudden, you just need that pretzel, cinnamon roll or teriyaki chicken, and it seems as if you are powerless to resist.

But despite the delightful scent, you keep your eyes trained in front of you and soldier past the food court, using every bit of your willpower not to cave and buy that thing that you are fiendishly craving.

Good for you. But guess what? Here’s some rotten news: Even if you stay strong and avoid the tasty temptation, YOU COULD STILL GAIN WEIGHT.

Wait, what? How’s that possible? Isn’t weight gain and loss nothing more than a simple equation of calories in minus calories burned?

No, not according to the wet blankets over at UC Berkeley, who conducted a study and found that you can pack on the pounds just by smelling delicious things, reports SF Gate.

Well, not you, per se. Mice.

But still, it’s terrible news, isn’t it?

In the study, researchers took a number of obese mice, temporarily wiped out their senses of smell for a few weeks, and found that they lost weight far more rapidly than their obese counterparts with intact olfaction, even while both of them were on the same high-fat “Burger King diet.”

“In the context of food and appetite, this is really novel,” said Celine Riera, one of the researchers, according to SF Gate

Indeed it is novel! Past studies have actually shown different results — one such experiment determined that those who regularly smell vanilla (especially when they are not hungry) are more prone to weight loss than those around other aromas, notes a 2009 report from Psychology Today. The reasoning? Since vanilla is almost always associated with sugar, it delivers a blast of satisfaction to the brain, helping to stave off your sweet tooth.

But according to the newer study, your sense of smell decreases after you eat, so you might be able to trick yourself into thinking you are satiated by blocking your olfactory neurons (although it can also take all pleasure out of eating and cause depression, so be careful).

Or maybe just eat the darn cake next time.

Sources: SF Gate, Psychology Today / Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver/Flickr

Tags: food craving, food science, smelling leads to weight gain, Study, weight gain
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Those Strings On Bananas — This Is What They’re For (Photo)

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By Cooking Panda

You know those weird little fleshy strings on your banana that get in your way as soon as you peel them open?

Yeah, those. They are kind of weird, right? A lot of people hate them or at least could do without them, but did you know that they actually serve a very important purpose?

The strings, or “phloem bundles” more technically, send nutrients to your banana, according to Huffington Post. There you go.

According to Dole’s Research Vice President Nicholas D. Gillitt, phloem bundles are perfectly edible and healthy, though of course it’s up to personal taste whether or not they are gross enough to peel off.

“In general, all parts of fruits are healthy,” Gillitt, who has a Ph.D. in physical/inorganic chemistry, told Huffington Post. “We eat the skins of apples, pears, etc., and we could eat the skins of bananas — including the phloem bundles — if we find them palatable, but there is no evidence to suggest they are harmful.”

It is “likely” that they have a somewhat different nutritional makeup than the rest of the banana flesh, especially since they probably have “more and varied types of fiber and structural components required for their function,” although nobody has really tested this, he added.

“Since they are intended to do a specific job, and as such likely have a defined structure which supports that job, they would be expected to have a different compound profile to the regular edible banana flesh,” he explained.

He also said that “it is potentially possible” to make bananas without the phloem bundles but wasn’t convinced that this was an endeavor anyone was interested in, since he has never heard any “meaningful” complaints about them.

In other words, if you are one of those people who despises those bundles with the fire of a thousand stringy suns, you’re out of luck.

Sorry, banana string haters. You’ll have to continue manually removing them.

Fortunately for anyone who can’t stand the phloem bundles, there’s a trick you might want to try: according to a totally-not-so-scientific experiment from Slate, if you break from conventional wisdom and peel your banana from the “bottom” end — that is, the part without a stem — you’ll be much more likely to remove the majority of those pesky little fiber strings right off the bat.

 

Sources: The Huffington Post, Slate / Photo Credit: Pexels

Tags: banana string, Bananas, food science, phloem bundles, weird food
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Grab A Glass! Drinking Wine Is A Brain Workout!

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By Cooking Panda

There’s a good chance that drinking a glass of wine after a long day’s work actually counts as exercise. That is, for your brain. Swirl the wine around in your mouth to get a feel for the taste, and your brain gets a better workout figuring out the complexities of the flavor than it would if you were trying to solve a math problem.

Delish reports that neuroscientist Dr. Gordon Shepherd of Yale School of Medicine has found that drinking wine engages more working parts of the brain than any other activity does. In his book, “Neuroenology: How The Brain Creates The Taste of Wine,” Dr. Shepherd says that the tongue muscles and taste receptors that are triggered when swirling the wine in your mouth do more to exercise your brain than listening to music or studying a math problem.

Imagine that! You can drink a glass of wine and exercise your brain in such a better way than trying to do algebra. Oh, how nice it would be if a full-body workout (you know what I mean: jumping jacks, burpees, squats) could be this much fun!

Part of what’s cool about the whole thing, is that Dr. Shepherd has found that taste itself is actually more subjective than we think, according to Independent. He says that everyone uses their own frame of reference to process taste (which makes sense), so it is “heavily dependent on our own memories and emotions and those of our companions.”

“The taste is not in the wine; the taste is created by the brain of the wine taster,” says Dr. Shepherd. Also, remember that swallowing is a key part of the process. Not only should you sip and savor, but swallow the wine, too.

This is all great to know, but don’t go overboard. “If you take a large sip, you’ve saturated your system,” explains Dr. Shepherd. That will not help to exercise your brain, I guess. Keep your sips small and your taste buds tasting. That will keep your brain exercising!

Sources: Delish, Independent / Photo Credit: Anna Do Huyhn/Instagram

Tags: exercise, food science, wine
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Food Science: Chemical Reactions

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By Cooking Panda



We’re learning all about chemical reactions! What happens when you mix acids and bases? Make these Lemon Volcanos and find out!

Ingredients

  • 1 large lemon
  • Food coloring of choice
  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Directions

    1) Cut the top off the lemon. Scoop out the juice and the inside into a bowl.

    2) Add several drops of food coloring, a teaspoon of soap and baking soda inside the lemon.

    3) Spoon lemon juice inside and watch the baking soda and lemon react! Add more lemon juice, baking soda and food coloring to keep the volcano going!

    Tags: food science, lemon, recipes
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    Food Science: Slime

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    By Cooking Panda



    On this week’s episode of Food Science we’re learning all about viscosity! What’s something that’s viscous? Slime! Use Starburst to create edible slime by changing the viscosity. You’ll also learn how to make normal slime, so you can live out everyone’s childhood dream of being slimed, à la Nickelodeon.

    Edible Slime

    Ingredients

  • 20 – 25 Starburst candies, unwrapped (similar flavors or complementary colors)
  • 4 cups water
  • Powdered sugar
  • Directions

    1) Add water to a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Lower to a light boil.

    2) Place unwrapped Starburst in a heat-safe bowl. Place bowl on top of the pot of boiling water, to create a double boiler. Stir Starburst until they melt.

    3) Cover a clean working surface with powdered sugar. Once melted Starburst are cool enough to touch, place on powdered sugar and begin molding. Have fun playing around!

    Bucket-O-Slime

    Ingredients

  • 1 packet JELL-O color of choice
  • 1 pound flour
  • 1/4 gallon water
  • 2 ounces dish soap
  • Food dye of choice
  • Directions

    1) In a large bucket, add JELL-O packet, half of the flour and half of the water. Stir to combine.

    2) Add the rest of the flour, water, dish soap and food dye. Whisk to combine.

    3) Your slime is ready to go! Make sure you’re pouring it in an area that you don’t mind cleaning up. Have fun!

    Tags: food science, recipes, Slime, Starburst
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    Food Science: States Of Matter

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    By Cooking Panda



    We’re changing states of matter in the first episode of Cooking Panda’s Food Science! Join us as we make Dry Ice Ice Cream. You can recreate the experiment at home using the ingredients and directions below. But remember, your dry ice has to be really powdered! And you want to let it sit in the freezer before eating. Watch the video to learn even more about states of matter!

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered dry ice
  • Directions

    1) In a food processor or blender, blend dry ice until you have a fine powder. You don’t want any large chunks.

    2) In a large bowl, combine milk, heavy cream, sugar and dry ice. Stir until ice cream begins to thicken. If it’s not thickening, add more dry ice until it does.

    3) Place ice cream freezer for at least 10 to 20 minutes before serving.

    Tags: dessert, Dry Ice, food science, ice cream, recipes
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    Say Hello To All-New Cooking Panda Series In 2017!

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    By Cooking Panda

    You guys! We are so excited to introduce several new series coming to Cooking Panda this year, featuring talents like “Top Chef” fan-favorite Fabio Viviani and “MasterChef” alum Sharone Hakman.

    This diverse roster of personality-driven series will add a new flavor (get it?) to the recipe content you’re used to seeing from us at Cooking Panda. Learn how to relax in the kitchen after a hard day at work with Fabio Viviani’s “Wine-Ding Down,” and elevate those mundane ingredients in your cupboards with Sharone Hakman’s “Everyday Elevated.”

    But wait! There’s more! Check out food-based science experiments with Katy Stoll from “How I Met Your Mother,” and soak up some classic Southern charm with “Cupcake Wars” winners Southern Girl Desserts.

    All this and more is coming your way on Cooking Panda in 2017. Stay hungry!

    Tags: Cooking Panda, Everyday Elevated, food science, Southern Girls Desserts, Wine-Ding Down
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    Beer Might Actually Be Good For You

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    By Cooking Panda

    If you want a beer but feel a little guilty about indulging, just go for it and tell yourself that you are investing in your health.

    It might be true, anyway. And that’s good enough for us.

    A study from Pennsylvania State University researchers, released on Nov. 13, concluded that drinking alcohol daily in moderation might actually be good for you, according to an American Heart Association post on EurekAlert!

    Out of 80,000 healthy Chinese adults who were studied, those who drank moderately for more than six years had the best levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, compared to nondrinkers and heavy drinkers, whose HDL levels declined at higher rates than the moderate drinkers.

    What does moderate drinking mean? For most people, that comes out to something like one serving each day for women and two for men, as measured by the study.

    There weren’t enough wine drinkers to monitor the effects of adult grape juice on HDL, but researchers did find that beer was even better for your HDL levels than hard liquor, so if you are a fan of a nice malty brew, you might as well celebrate the good news by cracking open a cold one.

    Unfortunately, the study was inconclusive, and more research needs to be done to say for sure whether or not beer and other booze is actually healthy, though it makes sense that a pint of the vitamin-rich drink every now and again won’t hurt you too much.

    “The American Heart Association recommends consuming alcohol in moderation if you already drink but cautions people to not start drinking and consult your doctor on your risks and benefits of consuming alcohol in moderation,” the study advised.

    A bottle of your favorite lager or IPA might even be around as healthy for you as a glass of milk. We are still not totally sure if PETA’s claims that beer is healthier for you than a glass of milk are true or not, but hey, we’ll run with this one.

    We’ll be back later — we’re off to do some “research.”

    Sources: EurekAlert!, Inquisitr / Photo Credit: George Hodan/Public Domain Pictures

    Tags: beer good for you, beer healthy, food science, healthy booze, is alcohol bad for you
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    You Might Not Like This Side Effect Of Eating A Burger And Fries

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    By Cooking Panda

    We all know that a big greasy burger and plate of crispy French fries makes for a delicious but wildly unhealthy meal, but that doesn’t always stop people from indulging.

    It is common knowledge that the high-calorie, cholesterol-laden meal could increase your likelihood of having a heart attack and even getting certain kinds of cancer. But there’s another side effect that you might not be aware of: A Western diet heavy on eggs, meat, sweets and high-fat dairy could dramatically increase the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study found, according to Munchies.

    The Alzheimer’s study, from Dr. William Grant at the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center in San Francisco, California, determined that those who consume typical Western diets have much higher chances of contracting the mentally degenerative disease, compared to those who eat healthier foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and low-fat dairy.

    Japan, one of the healthiest eating countries in the world, has seen a major spike in Alzheimer’s rates within the last several years, as they include more and more Western food into their diets. In 1985, the rate of Alzheimer’s in Japan was just one percent, but as they began shifting away from the healthy, traditional Japanese diet around that time, the rate of contracting Alzheimer’s rose to seven percent by 2008.

    Grant points largely to meat as the main culprit.

    “[R]educing meat consumption could significantly reduce the risk of [Alzheimer’s disease] as well as of several cancers, diabetes mellitus type 2, stroke, and, likely, chronic kidney disease,” Grant wrote in the study’s abstract, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

    Eggs and high-fat dairy could also be a factor, and Grant said that mixing these with healthier foods will hardly make a difference to counteract the negative effects.

    This study is by no means the first time scientists have blamed meat for various medical risks, and other medical researchers have singled out red meat as the most closely connected with developing Alzheimer’s. According to one 2013 UCLA study, the high amounts of iron you get from meat build up over time and start decaying the gray matter in your brain and increase the damage caused by harmful free radicals, notes Medical News Today.

    At least there’s one thing we can all agree on here — the number one cause of Alzheimer’s is aging, so good luck with that one.

    Sources: Munchies, National Center for Biotechnology Information Resources, Medical News Today / Photo credit: Schweid And Sons/Instagram

    Tags: Alzheimer's, burger, food science, health risks meat, red meat health
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