Chemistry and Cooking: What You Need to Know

Often, the words “chemistry and cooking” do not go well together. We’re told that living a life with chemicals is dangerous. 

However, people often forget that chemicals and chemistry are essential to our daily life.

In particular, chemistry and cooking go hand in hand. For example, the art of cooking itself is chemistry; we use various processes, including heating up and freezing food, adding spices to your favorite dish, browning bread, and more.

Chemistry is an essential component in the kitchen. Without it, you’d really struggle. Like, really…

So, to help clear up the topic and provide you with more information, this article will discuss more on chemistry and cooking and how the two are interrelated. 

Toxic chemicals vs. non-toxic in the kitchen

Let’s begin with toxic and non-toxic chemicals.

It goes without saying that bleach and other cleaning products are not good for the body. Sure, don’t put them in your food… but non-toxic chemicals, as simple as salt, are added to food to add flavor.

If you meet someone who says they don’t want to put chemicals in their body, warn them about salt, and then see how bland their food tastes. They won’t last very long.

Obviously, there’s a difference between the two – toxic chemicals contain extreme pH levels and are not meant for consumption. It doesn’t take rocket science to know what you can and can’t eat.

The foods we eat are made of chemicals

To take it a step further: the foods we eat are made of chemicals. For example, macronutrients – these are your fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, all contain chemicals, providing our bodies with energy.

Foods contain amino acids – we need amino acids to break down food, to grow, and repair body tissue. They are essential.

Some foods contain more amino acids than others. For example, eggs, cottage cheese, turkey, and quinoa are all full of amino acids.

Sure, while you may not add all of these to your dishes, it goes without saying that these are essential.

Chemistry processes are used to make food

If you don’t eat eggs, meat, fish, or dairy, then you likely follow a vegan diet. However, one of the main issues is the lack of nutrients and amino acids that you’re consuming.

Well, a lot of manufactured meals use chemistry – they are injected with nutrients, flavorings are added, and the whole process is “manufactured.” 

This isn’t always a bad thing, though. For example, as a vegetarian, you are going to be deficient in certain natural chemicals food in other dairy and meat-based products – you need to get these somehow.

Moreover, this is why some people choose to take supplements – to ensure they receive the basic vitamins, minerals, and acids required for optimal health and bodily functioning.

Then we get to actual cooking…

Okay, now that we’ve discussed ready meals, let’s talk about the actual process of cooking.

Chemistry and cooking go hand in hand – cooking is chemistry.

Think about it: when you’re heating up your food, you’re killing harmful bacteria and microorganisms. When you add spices or transform ingredients in any way, shape, or form, this is a chemical process.

You may not realize it, but chemistry is cooking!

Have you ever tried baking? It’s just chemistry.

Baking is an excellent example of how chemistry and cooking are interrelated. 

For example, sugars brown in heat, creating that delicious pastry or cake, cookie dough caramelizes, and leavening agents, such as yeast and baking powder, give dough that light and fluffy appearance.

If you understand chemistry and the many reactions you can do in the kitchen, you can change the appearance, flavor, and texture of your food – you can transform any dish.

And while this may be purposefully using chemistry, it’s a process that is also used without thinking, even when you’re not baking! 

Chemistry and cooking go hand in hand

Chemistry and cooking are often thought to be two different things entirely. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Chemistry is involved in practically all things in the kitchen, from heating up food to making your first cup of coffee. And sure, while those more harmful cleaning chemicals are obviously not a part of cooking, they are required to create a clean and hygienic space for cooking and eating.

To find out more about the relationship between chemistry and food, and other fun chemistry facts and uses, visit our blog section.

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