The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking
Candy Bread Eggs Pickles Meat Seasoning

Credits & Acknowledgements

Jeffery Sherman
Chef Jeffrey Sherman, San Francisco, California

To develop this Web site, Exploratorium staff researched the science of cooking through experiments, interviewing cooking experts, and reading lots of books. We found the following books to be the most interesting and helpful.

Proceeds from your purchases of these recommended books through Amazon support Exploratorium educational programs.

Baking Science & Technology

by E. J Pyler
Though this work is geared toward those who work in the baking industry, this thorough two-volume reference is an excellent resource for anyone interested in how and why ingredients act and interact during the baking process.

Cookwise : The Secrets of Cooking Revealed
by Shirley Corriher
Shirley Corriher tells you how and why things happen in cooking: why the wrong amount of baking powder makes cakes fall, why too little liquid for the amount of chocolate in a recipe can cause the chocolate to seize and become a solid grainy mass, why marinades with oil work better at imparting flavor. Corriher also provides tips for "fixing" bad recipes based on the science involved. Knowing how ingredients work, individually and in combination, will not only make you more aware of the cooking process, but transform you into a confident and exceptional cook -- a cook who is in control.

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
by Eric Schlosser
Schlosser argues that the fast-food industry has triggered the growth of malls in America's landscape, widened the gap between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled American cultural imperialism abroad. He discusses facts about food production and preparation, the ingredients and taste-enhancers in fast food, the chains' marketing efforts to attract young, susceptible consumers, and other unsettling topics.

How to Read a French Fry: And Other Stories of Intriguing Kitchen Science
by Russ Parsons
"Cooking is full of questions that science can help you answer, questions that can make you a better cook," writes Russ Parsons. In this entertaining book packed with fascinating tidbits, Parsons explores the science behind such basic cooking methods as chopping, mixing, frying, roasting, boiling, and baking. You'll learn why soaking beans can't offset their gaseous effects, why green vegetables shouldn't be cooked under a lid for long, which fruits you can buy unripe and which you should buy fully ripened, which thickener to choose for your turkey gravy, and which piecrust is foolproof for a beginner.

The Inquisitive Cook (Accidental Scientist)
by Anne Gardiner
In a light, anecdotal, highly informative style, expert cooking writers Anne Gardiner and Sue Wilson reveal the unexpected and always practical science of the kitchen. Subjects covered include the amazing alchemy of granules and powders, the astonishing egg, the way different cooking methods affect foods, the biology and psychology of flavor, and the remarkable chemistry of doughs and spices. Amusing anecdotes, sidebars, and illustrations enliven the text. Throughout, there are "cook's queries," quick tips, and recipes that will intrigue anyone interested in becoming a more knowledgeable cook.

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
This work combines culinary lore and lucid, scientific explanations into a superbly readable, authoritative book, with over 200 illustrations. Learn the science behind why white meat is white, why fruits ripen after harvest but vegetables don't, and what roles the basic food molecules--water, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and oils--play in cooking.

The Physiology of Taste: Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy
by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, M. F. K. Fisher (Translator)
As Brillat-Savarin himself said, "The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a star." This nineteenth-century gourmand's treatise on cooking and eating includes mediations on the financial influence of the turkey; what foods lawyers, doctors, and businessmen prefer; and the health benefits of chocolate. The renowned food writer M. F. K. Fisher provides comments after every chapter.

Pickled, Potted, and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World
by Sue Shephard
From the primitive techniques of drying and salting to the latest methods that have allowed us to feed men in space, Pickled, Potted, and Canned gives us insight into the histories, cultures, and ingenuity of people inventing new ways to "cheat the seasons."

The Spice Routes: Chronicles and Recipes from Around the World
by Chris Caldicott, Carolyn Caldicott
The Caldicotts recount how they followed the trails of the early spice merchants through the eastern Mediterranean, the Indian subcontinent, Asia, the Americas, Africa, and the Spice Islands of the Indian Ocean. The authors explain how indigenous spices were traded and how foreign spices arrived. They explore the effect spices have had on local cuisines, supplying the recipes for the dishes they discovered on their journeys.

The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads, from Europe and America
by Joe Ortiz
Ortiz's "village bakers" work on a small scale, treating bread making as a craft rather than as mass production. These bakers can be found all over the world, in tiny European towns and in large cities in America, baking bread for their communities. The author is himself one of these dedicated individuals, with a bakery near Santa Cruz, California, and has refined his experience by working with professional bakers abroad. Ortiz's book offers the home cook a thorough course on bread making, with lengthy discussions of ingredients and techniques, followed by recipes for authentic regional breads of France, Italy, and Germany, as well as American ''village breads.''

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained
by Robert L. Wolke
Why do some recipes use unsalted butter…and salt? How is sugar made? Should cooks avoid aluminum pans? Interspersed throughout Wolke's accessible and humorous answers to these and other mysteries are recipes demonstrating scientific principles. Recipes include "Black Raspberry Coffee Cake," demonstrates how metrics work in recipes, and "Bob's Mahogany Game Hens,: which shows what brining can do. Wolke is good at demystifying advertisers' half-truths, showing, for example, that sea salt is not necessarily better than regular salt for those watching sodium intake.




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