The Top 5 Things You Got Wrong About “Kitchen Science”

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Every time you prepare a meal, you are essentially using chemistry and physics. What is the act of cooking, after all, but changing ingredients into other forms and compositions? Applying heat from a stove or skillet alters the very molecular structure of foodstuffs, cooking down sugars, converting starches, or turning liquids into gas. A knife, grater, or blender uses its physical properties to alter your raw ingredients into parts of a recipe. It’s science, and it’s delicious! But guess what? Even the best cook gets a whole hell of a lot wrong about the actual “science” going on behind their culinary adventures. Let’s dispel some of the confusion …

5 Hot Water Can Freeze Faster Than Cold Water! Really?!?

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You know how some people say that the fastest way to make ice cubes is actually to fill the tray with hot water? Well, guess what? They’re wrong! Plain and simple, wrong. Who the hell started this rumor, and who is propagating it? Join us, brothers and sisters, and end the madness!

4 Ever Wondered Why Altitude Affects Boiling?

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Lots of people think it has something to do with the colder temperatures at higher altitudes, and if you’re cooking outside on a mountain, that may be true – but only incidentally. The reason it takes longer to cook foods in boiling water at altitude is actually because the boiling point (the temperature at which your water will boil) is lower than at sea level. That’s because the thinner, less pressurized air at higher elevations allows the heating water to bubble up into a gas and escape the pot more easily. Thus your water will come to a boil faster, but be less hot, and thus less effective.

3 Got Stinky Garlic Fingers?

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Well, don’t wash your hands, you fool! What you actually have to do is rub your hands against stainless steel. Washing with soap and water may remove some of the bits of garlic left on you, but it will also convert the remaining residue into even more pungent acids. Stainless steel, though, holds a charge that will attract the acidic molecules of garlic off your skin, leaving your hands free to sniff as much as you want. Even though you should probably not do that very much, regardless.

2 Milk and Citrus Curdle when Mixed

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You know milk and citrus curdle when mixed, but have you ever stopped to wonder why? It’s the negatively charged electrons in a milk protein known as casein losing their charge, of course! When an acidic ingredient, like lemon or orange juice, is added to milk, it reduces the negative charge of these little protein molecules, and they quickly start to form bonds, which we see as disgusting little curdles.

1 Go Ahead, Put That Spoon in the Microwave

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Microwaves are, as the name suggests, very “short” electromagnetic waves that, when concentrated in an area (your microwave oven), will go bouncing around excitedly, heating up most things with which they come into contact. But not a spoon! Metal spoons allow microwaves to pass through them harmlessly, both because they are good conductors and because they have no sharp points out of which charged particles (sparks) are likely to emerge. Your spoon may get pretty hot in there if it’s sitting in food or liquid, though.

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