Vegan Cooking Tips and Tricks

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How Gluten is Formed

Gluten is formed when two plant-based proteins, glutenin and gliadin bind together in the presence of water.

Twist the Bottle, Not the Cork

When removing the cork on a pressurized bottle of beer sparkling wine or Champagne, hold the cork in one hand and twist the bottle with the other hand. Twist the bottle, not the cork.

Beer yeasts and Temperature make the Beer

Ale is usually fermented with Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast between 65F (18C) and 95F (35C). Lager is usually fermented with Saccharomyces Pastorianus yeast between 45F (7C) and 60F (16C). The combination of yeast and temperature is one of the main factors that differentiate these two beer types. 

Evaporative Cooling Effects Cooking

A pot of water placed in a 500F (260C) oven will never get much higher than boiling temperature (212F or 100C) because of what's called evaporative cooling. In this case, the steam rising from the water carries the extra heat away, keeping the water at around boiling temperature. Keep this in mind the next time you bake moist foods in your oven.

The Key to Tasty Bread

Long, cold dough fermentations make for bread with increased flavor depth richness. This is because natural enzymes in the wheat called amylase work at lower temperatures to break down starch molecules into smaller, more simple sugars. The yeast eats most of these sugars and produces more flavor byproducts. Some of these sugars also remain in the dough which slightly increases sweetness.

Malolactic Fermentation makes many Wines Smoother

Winemakers often initiate a malolactic fermentation to make many red wines taste smoother. Malolactic fermentation converts sharply acidic malic acid into lactic acid, which has a more subtle, smoother acid profile that lingers on the palette longer.

How Browning Works

High temperatures and low water levels in food products causes a chemical reaction to occur between a type of sugar called a reducing sugar and an amino acid. This leads to a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction in which numerous savory flavor compounds are produced. The compounds that produce the brown color are called melanoidins and are responsible for giving coffee, chocolate, bread crust and certain beer malts their dark color. The Maillard reaction is enhanced in alkaline environments and reduced in acidic environments.

Why Saturated Fat is Solid at Room Temperature

Plant-based saturated fats come from plants such as cacao trees, coconut palms and oil palms that grow in tropical regions. It is thought that these plants produce this type of solid fat due to the biological requirements of living at warmer temperatures. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature because the chain of carbon atoms that it consists of is arranged in such a way that it packs together tighter to form a crystalline structure as it is cooled.

How Caramelization Works

Caramelization is when sugar breaks down in the presence of high heat. This breaking down process is called pyrolysis. When sugar caramelizes it produces dark color and a multitude of complex flavor compounds. Caramelization can start from 230F (110C) to 356F (180C) depending on the sugar. Caramelization is slowest at neutral PH (7) but can increase in extremely acidic or alkaline conditions.

The Difference between Hydrophobic, Hygroscopic and Hydrophilic

Hydrophobic, hygroscopic and hydrophilic are all terms that describe how substances interact with water. Hydrophobic means water hating; the substance will not want to interact with water. Oil is an example of a hydrophobic ingredient. A hygroscopic substance (this word is derived from hygroscope, an instrument used for measuring humidity) will actively attract and absorb water but not bond to it. A hygroscopic substance suspends water molecules within its molecules. Sugar and salt are examples of hygroscopic ingredients. Hydrophilic, meaning water friendship, indicates a substance that will bond on a molecular level with water. Sugar is also an example of a hydrophilic ingredient because sugar molecules will actually bond with water molecules when mixed.