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Better Eating Through Chemistry!

September 10, 2009

Some cool food science news I found:

cinnamonCinnamon has long been known for its antimicrobial properties (used as a corporal preservative in mummification rituals), but now science has finally decided to delve deeper into the knowledge that ancient Egyptians discovered more than 5000 years ago: cinnamon used as an anti-molding agent in food packaging.  Spanish scientists developed anti-mold wrapper, which is basically waxed paper impregnated with cinnamon oil.  The research looks very promising: when wrapped around already-moldy bread, the cinnamon-infused wrapping slowed mold growth by 96%, when compared to bread wrapped in plain waxed paper.  Read the whole story from the New York Times here.

Whole_Wheat_BreadWe all know (I hope) that eating whole grains, including whole wheat flour, is a healthy choice, due to higher amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals versus processed flours (such as all-purpose white).  But “experts” have always advised against using straight whole wheat flour, because it makes dough denser, and the final products are really kinda gross (think 1968, macrobiotic-lovin’, tree-hugging hippie kinda food).  Recipes strongly urge you to substitute only up to half of the white flour with whole wheat flour, to avoid disappointing results.  There may be hope on the horizon, though, for those of us who’d rather use whole wheat than the nutrient-stripped all-purpose white flour: food chemists (this is probably what I should have done with my life) have shown that making a pizza crust with whole wheat flour and cooking it longer releases more of those healthy antioxidants. These compounds increased by 82 percent when baked at a higher temperature (around 500*), by 60 percent when baked twice as long and doubled when the dough was left to rise an extra day.  The moral of the story: we can use all whole wheat flour, we just must practice patience (and possess a REALLY hot oven).  Read the whole study here (with links to recipes).

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Alisa permalink
    September 13, 2009 8:13 pm

    I use whole wheat pastry flour for all my baking needs. Never had a problem. Is there something special about the pastry flour that I don’t know about?

    • wendalicious permalink
      September 13, 2009 8:47 pm

      Whole wheat pastry flour is apparently milled much finer than regular WW flour, so you get a lighter finished product.
      Where do you find it? Sounds like something I need to have…

  2. Claire Lynch permalink
    September 14, 2009 10:56 am

    Wendy, go get a job as Alton Brown’s assistant, then you will be doing the chemistry thing and you can hang out with Alton.

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