Your Steak Isn’t Bleeding, Here’s What That Liquid Is (Video)

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By Cooking Panda

Ever cut into a steak to be simultaneously enthralled by and scared of the red liquid leaking from its sides? Well, consider your fears calmed, because that stuff isn’t actually blood, science confirms.

The red juice — charmingly called “weep” or “purge” — around steaks and other red meat is a result of their freezing and packaging, according to a video by Tech Insider (below). The liquid is simply a mix of water and myoglobin, a protein found in muscle. 

Most meat contains about 75 percent water, which freezes and forms sharp crystals when the meat is packaged for transport. The crystals’ sharp edges rupture the muscle cells in the meat and cause them to release myoglobin when the meat thaws. The myoglobin combines with water to form that eerie juice.

That’s all fine and good, but it begs one question: Why is the liquid red? That, ladies and gentlemen, is because myoglobin contains iron, which gives red meat its signature hue and turns the liquid a blood-like red. 

If you’re still not convinced, think about it this way. First of all, nearly all blood is removed from meat during slaughter, which is why steak doesn’t taste like blood.

Secondly, if red meat actually “bled,” white meat would, too. The reason we don’t see the same red liquid on cuts of chicken or turkey is because those animals have much lower levels of myoglobin in their muscles — hence, the basis of the distinction between red meat and white meat, Today I Found Out explains.

If myoglobin gives raw red meat its color, it is also responsible for the darkening of the meat as it cooks. The longer a steak spends on the grill, the darker the myoglobin becomes, and the more well done the steak will be.

So whether you formerly avoided your steak’s red juice (or enjoyed it more?) because you thought it was blood, you can now find comfort in the knowledge that it is a far less dramatic substance: red protein water. Have fun impressing your friends with your newfound scientific knowledge of steak. 

Source: Tech Insider/YouTube, Today I Found Out / Photo credit: stu_spivack/Flickr

Tags: blood, red meat, science, steak
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How To Predict Cream Side When You Twist Apart An Oreo

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By Cooking Panda

Finally, scientists have used their knowledge and perseverance to quell the most pressing of questions: When the cookies of an Oreo are pulled apart, on which side will the cream remain?

It turns out that the fate of the cream is not random, so your old and faithful tactic for deciding bets is now tragically obsolete. The white filling, Princeton physicists discovered, will end up on the same side every time.

After going through dozens of boxes of Oreos, subjugating the cookies to lab experiments involving heavy-duty load frames and rotation rigs, the curious group found a simpler explanation for the cream question, Quartz reports.

Position the Oreo box so the label is facing the right way, take out the cookie in the upper left corner and pull it apart, they instruct. If the cream ends up on the left cookie, it will end up on the left cookie for every Oreo in the box. The same goes for the right cookie. 

After making that discovery, “it was easy to make the leap that it’s a feature of the manufacturing process,” scientist Dan Quinn told Quartz.

While we may never know Nabisco’s top-secret Oreo-making process, an episode of Discovery Channel’s “How It’s Made” went behind the scenes of similar Newman-O cookies.

To manufacture the Oreo lookalikes, a machine lays cream filling onto a bottom wafer, and another machine places the second cookie on top. Since the cream is warm when it lands on the first cookie, it fills each crevice of the wafer, sticking to it like hot glue. Once the second cookie comes into play, the cream has cooled down.

After that, the cookies are placed in the same direction in each box, so the cream will end up on the same side no matter how you twist it.

Since you’ve gained this knowledge, you can no longer fairly break a tie using the classic Oreo trick. But who said anything about fairness?

Source: Quartz / Photo credit: minato/Flickr

Tags: nabisco, oreo, science
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Love Fatty Foods? Blame Your Genes, Study Says

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By Cooking Panda

Some people have a defective gene that makes them crave fatty foods, according to U.K. researchers.

The University of Cambridge fed 54 volunteers a two-course meal to see how various fat content affected their eating behavior. Scientists found that people with a rare defective MC4R gene — linked to obesity — preferred the high-fat offerings and ate more of them than the volunteers without the gene.

About one in 1,000 people carries a defective version of MC4R, which controls hunger and appetite and affects how we burn calories, according to the BBC. Mutations in the gene are a common cause of severe obesity in families.

Researchers for the study, published in the Nature Communications journal, created three versions of both chicken korma (a South Asian dish of chicken with yogurt sauce) and a strawberries-and-cream dessert. Each version of the chicken dish varied in fat content, while each dessert had a different amount of sugar.

Volunteers with defective MC4R ate much more of the high-fat chicken korma than the lean and obese volunteers without the defect. As for the dessert, the defective MC4R carriers were the only ones who didn’t opt for the high-sugar version. 

This would suggest that MC4R makes people value fat over sugar. The results make sense, researchers think, because people likely developed hunger genes to eat more and store fat during times of famine.

“Most of the time we eat foods that are both high in fat and high in sugar,” said lead researcher Sadaf Farooqi.

“By carefully testing these nutrients separately in this study, and by testing a relatively rare group of people with the defective MC4R gene, we were able to show that specific brain pathways can modulate food preference.”

When your brain prompts you to choose foods that are high in fat and low in sugar, it’s defending the body from starvation, Farooqi said. Having a defect in MC4R, though, can make hunger insatiable.

So next time you want fried chicken after just having eaten pizza, you’ve got a valid question to ask yourself: Do you have a defective MC4R gene? Or do you need to get your cravings in check?

Source: BBC / Photo credit: Thy Khue Ly/Flickr

Tags: cravings, fat, genetics, science, Study
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Take Of Sip Of Beer That Is 45 Million Years In The Making

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By Cooking Panda

Want to drink a beer that’s really special?

Go ahead and put away your special Star Trek brew and that weird stuff you picked up that is literally made out of pee. Oh, and put down that bourbon barrel-aged stuff too. (Actually, if you’d like to send it over to us, we’d be happy to take it off your hands.) We have something waaay cooler. If you want something truly aged, why not go with beer brewed from some of the oldest stuff on the planet?

Fossil Fuels Brewing Company has crafted a beer that is 45 million years in the making. Long before humans walked the Earth, a prehistoric leaf made its way into a small piece of Burmese amber, where it fossilized.

“Birds were learning to fly, mini-pig-dog-horse things were evolving into bigger-pig-dog-horse things, and the Eocene Epoch was rapidly working on crafting its greatest creation — brewing yeast,” the California brewers with a thirst for greatness wrote of the new saison, according to Eater.

Here’s how they did it: Unshakeable molecular biologist Dr. Raul Cano somehow managed to extract and reactivate yeast from the fossil in the 1990s, notes SF Gate. Though Cano was the first to accomplish such a feat, this did not exactly set the world on fire, and critics questioned whether or not this was possible.

That’s when Cano founded Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. and got to work with some brewing masters to figure out what kind of yeast they were working with and what they could do with it. It took a while to get the yeast properly “roused” and tasty, but they eventually figured out how to make it palatable.

“Saison really came to mind because the yeast had this wonderful grapefruit essence to it that it imparts in the beer,” said brewer Ian Schuster, who tirelessly worked on the project with Cano. “Some of the most amazing beer I’ve had, in terms of their light, crisp taste but also sophistication and layers, are Belgian and French farmhouse styles. We all galvanized around that thought. … We built everything around emphasizing the natural flavor of the yeast.”

And for the small (just kidding) donation of $40 to their crowdfunded project, you could secure your own limited edition bottle and drink something that is, arguably, as old as time.

Sources: SF Gate, Eater / Photo credit: Fossil Fuels Brewing via SF Gate

Tags: 45 million years old, novelty beer, old beer, prehistoric beer, science
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Stick On This Temporary Tattoo To Find Out How Drunk You Are

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By Cooking Panda

It’s not the prettiest tattoo, but you could say what it lacks in looks is made up for in purpose. It’s a potential life saver.

It’s a temporary, wearable patch, developed by engineers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), that tests your sweat for blood-alcohol concentration, according to Munchies.

Attached to the patch is an electronic board that sends the sweaty data to mobile phones via Bluetooth within 15 minutes.

You won’t have to chug a beer and run a lap to perspire enough for the tat’, either; the patch releases a sweat-inducing drug called pilocarpine, which allows the device to measure “sensible sweat,” or sweat seen on the skin.

This kind of sweat, the engineers explained, gives a more accurate, real-time blood-alcohol concentration than “insensible sweat,” which happens before it appears on the skin and can be two hours behind the correct blood-alcohol reading.

While other wearable technologies can detect blood-alcohol concentration, UCSD’s is reportedly the first to measure sensible sweat.

The best part? It works. The team tested the tattoos by attaching them to nine volunteers and reading their blood-alcohol concentration before and after they had a beer or glass of wine, according to their findings published in the ACS Sensors journal on July 12.

Movement, as well as bending and shaking the patch, didn’t impact the volunteers’ results. The device may indicate that you’re too drunk to function, but it won’t stop your dance party. 

The technology developers’ main hope for the device is that it keeps drunk people from driving.

“Lots of accidents on the road are caused by drunk driving,” said UCSD nanoengineering professor Joseph Wang, who worked on the project, reports the UC San Diego News Center. “This technology provides an accurate, convenient, and quick way to monitor alcohol consumption to help prevent people from driving while intoxicated.”

The tattoos could also be used by doctors and police officers as a more accurate and non-invasive way to calculate blood-alcohol concentration.

Measuring how drunk someone is usually requires pricking a finger, and breathalyzers can give faulty numbers. Someone’s breath right after having a drink, for example, would suggest a blood-alcohol content higher than it really is. Those who live above the law might also know that gurgling mouthwash can trick breathalyzers into detecting a lower alcohol level.

The engineering team is now working on a device that will continuously measure alcohol levels for 24-hour periods.

Away with that bulky breathalyzer. It’s time to get tatted.

Sources: UC San Diego News Center, MunchiesACS Sensors / Photo credits: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering/FlickrACS Sensors

Tags: BAC, blood alcohol, science, Tattoo, Technology
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There’s Actually A Scientific Reason As To Why Toast Is Better Than Normal Bread

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By Cooking Panda

Many of us would agree that a toasted sandwich is more appealing than the same meal on un-toasted bread. Did you know that science agrees, as well?

The Maillard reaction, named after chemist Louis Camille-Maillard, is responsible for many colors, flavors, and aromas of some of our most beloved foods, particularly during the baking, frying, and roasting processes. Although this chemical reaction was first officially studied around 1910, it wasn’t until the 1940s that people took notice of the connection between the “browning reaction” and the flavor of certain foods.

“World War II soldiers were complaining about their powdered eggs turning brown and developing unappealing flavors,” Exploratorium writes. “After many studies done in laboratories, scientists figured out that the unappetizing tastes were coming from the browning reaction. Even though the eggs were stored at room temperature, the concentration of amino acids and sugars in the dehydrated mix was high enough to produce a reaction.”

Nevertheless, the Maillard reaction is more frequently associated with pleasant smells and tastes. This reaction between the amino acids and simple sugars aides in differentiating foods that were boiled, poached, or steamed from those that were roasted, grilled, or cooked in ways that cause the surface of the food to dehydrate quickly.

The Science of Cooking explains: 

Maillard reactions generally only begin to occur above 285°F …

Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning. The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar interacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and interesting but poorly characterized odor and flavor molecules result. This process accelerates in an alkaline environment because the amino groups do not neutralize. This reaction is the basis of the flavoring industry, since the type of amino acid determines the resulting flavor.

While delicious, this reaction can occasionally be difficult to obtain in foods such as meat. It can be challenging to get the surface of the meat or food item dry and hot enough without simultaneously overcooking the part that is directly underneath.

“One strategy that works well is to remove as much water from the surface of the meat as possible before cooking it (via blotting or drying at low temperature),” advised Modernist Cuisine. “Fast heating using deep fryers, superhot griddles and grills, and even blowtorches are also helpful tactics, such as when we deep-fry chicken wings.”

Sources: Exploratorium, Science of Cooking, Modernist Cuisine / Photo credit: Pixabay

Tags: baking, frying, Maillard reaction, roasting, science
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Science Lesson: Here’s Why Onions Make Us Cry

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By Cooking Panda

Onions, wrote the poet Pablo Neruda, “make us cry without hurting us.”

Neruda is moved by the vegetable’s bulbous beauty, and Shrek relates to the onion’s possession of layers on an emotional level.

But scientists have figured out why onions have the less contemplative of us tearing up when we cut them open.

It’s because of chemical syn-propanethial-S-oxide, according to chemist and onion expert Eric Block.

“See, the onion is a perennial bulb that lives in the ground with lots of critters who are looking for a snack,” Block said to NPR. “So it has evolved a chemical defense system.”

The onion – that clever little Allium – contains vacuoles in each of its cells that release chemicals when cut or bitten open. 

When they’re released, Block said, “a whole cascade of chemical processes happen within an instant.”

That chemical cascade causes tiny syn-propanethial-S-oxide molecules to float into the air and pierce the eyes of the consumer like stinky daggers. 

Our tears, then, are no accident by the onion, which attempts to deter predators with its eyeball-burning properties. 

Even still, it’s the most widely cultivated species of its genus and boasts a variety of health benefits. Clearly, crying won’t stop people from chopping up the veggie for some extra flavor and crunch. 

Fortunately, Block has a few suggestions to keep eyes nice and dry. 

Most effective is to chop onions near a fan, so air blows the molecules away from the face.

Another technique is to refrigerate the vegetable a few minutes before chopping. That way, the molecules will be cold and move to your face a bit less aggressively. 

Some cooks swear by wearing goggles or chewing gum while slicing onions, but Block said that looks silly and doesn’t keep chemicals from getting to the mouth or nose. 

Despite these methods, Block said it’s almost impossible to keep the eyes from watering when using onions.

“Look at you, chopping and weeping. Idiot,” wrote Suji Kim in Monologue for an Onion.

Perhaps there’s something to be appreciated in the onion’s unique design and odor.

Beautiful.

Tragic. 

Sources: NPR, Famous Poets and Poems, poets.org, Encyclopedia of Life / Photo credit: Andrew Malone/Flickr

Tags: cooking, onion, science
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There’s A Scientific Reason Behind The Internet’s Rainbow Food Obsession

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By Cooking Panda

It has been evident for some time now: The rainbow has made a comeback in the food community.

It all started in Brooklyn with the now ubiquitous rainbow-bagel; later, Hong Kong gave us its best psychedelic grilled cheese; next, a barista in Las Vegas introduced his multi-hued morning brews to Instagram — clearly, the demand for colorful consumables is at an all-time high.

But why?

As explained by the Washington Post, the rainbow phenomenon is all the more perplexing because today’s shoppers claim to be more invested than ever in seeking out whole, natural foods.

A 2015 study by Consumer Reports shows that approximately 62 percent of shoppers seek out foods labeled “natural.” Additionally, 48 percent marked that they thought it was “very important” to avoid artificial ingredients — that’s 17-percentage points higher than the 2014 folks. These statistics seem to suggest that for many shoppers, natural foods are in, and artificially flavored and colored products are on their way out. So why does every new polychromatic food item end up going viral on the web?

Science Says: It all has to do with how our brains relate to color.

According to a 2015 study in the journal Flavour, people are apt to associate particular colors with different tastes. For example, a significant amount of the people surveyed associated reds, pinks and oranges with sweet tastes, but documented greens and yellows as having more sour tastes. 

Therefore, it’s possible that people are gravitating toward rainbow cuisine for the same reason people choose the everything bagel — for the potential flavor-bomb.

“More often than not, we taste what we see,” Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford, told Gizmodo over e-mail.

Another theory has to do with good ol’ enchantment. As Eater reports, a 2014 scientific review in Appetite demonstrated that colorful foods stave off boredom — the more color you see on your plate, the more you are encouraged to continue chowing down. This suggests that for some people, consuming colorful foods provides a dose of entertainment, much like watching a good episode of television: it’s just more fun to slurp down a multicolored shot of caffeine in the morning than a typical cup of brown.

In any case, enjoy the mass availability of rainbow edibles while you still can. In the end, it is just another food fad — albeit a very pretty one.

Sources: Washington PostConsumer ReportsFlavor Journal, GizmodoEaterAppetite via NIH.gov / Photo credits: Foodista, Eva Chen/Facebook via Eater, Instagram/ibrewcoffee, Instagram/hkfoodiexblogger, Andrew Kelsalldes

Tags: food trend, rainbow food, science, Viral
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