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Muscle Fibers under a microscope. Photo credit: Berkshire Community College Bioscience Image Library

When it comes to cultivated meat, the food scientist in me totally nerds out. The idea of growing meat outside of an animal is just the kind of stuff that gets me down weird rabbit holes of the internet for hours at a time.

That being said, I know myself well enough to realize how easily I get swept up in all the hype and excitement behind cultivated meat. …

I’m sure you’re all too familiar with the need to reduce salt in our diet.

The pleas from physicians cite a slew of bad health effects like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and on and on.

But, here’s what I’m curious about.

Can we tweak salt in some way that it achieves an optimal salty taste in our mouth but limits the actual amount eaten?

I know this might sound like some insurmountable feat, but hey, that’s why we have science, right?

And after a small amount of digging, I found three leads that made me think…

You’ve probably seen cultivated meat in the news. Startups like Memphis Meats, Aleph Farms, Mosa Meats, and BlueNalu are just a couple of the companies racing to reconstruct how meat is manufactured and consumed.

And I know growing meat in a lab — without any animals — sounds complex, but this process isn’t really novel. And it’s simple enough that anyone can understand (no science degree required!).

So simple, that it’ll take less than four minutes of your time.

What’s with the name?

If you’re confused about cultivated meat, the first problem is probably due to the fact that there’s so many different names…

In 1984, a local Little League team started their annual fundraiser by selling bags of cashews to friends and family in their rural Pennsylvania hometown. Sounds innocent enough, right?

Within days, neighbors reported blisters in their mouth, rashes spreading across their skin, and for an unfortunate few… rectal itching.

A local dermatologist, who likely had a surge of patients reporting the same itchy type of rash, had a hunch that the cashew nuts sold by the children were to blame.

So, how does a salty snack that tastes so good cause an entire town to break out in poison ivy-like…

The first time “can you pass the sucrose” slipped out of my mouth, my friends looked at me totally dumbfounded. Quickly I mumbled “oh, I mean the sugar.

Of course, my friends love to bring up this scientific freudian slip and relentlessly tease me about it — but hey, I guess that’s the price of being a food scientist.

Yet, from a scientific standpoint, not all sugars are the same. Some sugars taste sweeter than others. Some undergo browning reactions and produce new flavors when heated. …

If you’re a baker, even an amateur one at that, I’m sure you’re familiar with the first step in many cookie and cake recipes — creaming the butter and sugar.

It’s so ubiquitous that it’s easy to ignore.

But, if you’re like me and have no electric mixer this step can be incredibly annoying. I mean it’s a lot of work creaming that butter and sugar by hand.

It might be hard to believe, but this seemingly ordinary step has an extraordinary impact on the quality of your final baked good.

After reading these three reasons, you’ll never skip or…

If you’re like me and live in the U.S., you probably buy uncultured butter out of convenience and habit. Maybe you didn’t even know it was called uncultured or that there was another option?

Unlike Europe, where cultured butter reigns, here in the U.S. we largely stick to sweet cream butter aka uncultured butter. It’s not that you can’t find cultured butter in the states, it’s just that you’ll need to specifically look for it at some fancy schmancy grocery store.

Okay, maybe not that fancy but I’m talking about a special trip to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. …

I distinctly remember the history unit in fourth grade that taught us about American pioneers and the Westward Expansion for the first time. The unit culminated with all the fourth graders dressing up in old fashioned garb and going on a field trip to a historic site called the Old Wade House.

During the tour, the guides wanted to demonstrate how the pioneers used a butter churn to turn milk into butter. Thinking the churn looked fun, I volunteered to help make the butter, but was I in for a reality check.

Within minutes, the plunger was feeling heavy in…

Let me start with a question.

When you think of your sense of taste, what do you think is its purpose?

I mean is there any reason we have five basic tastes called sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami?

You might assume that taste simply allows us to enjoy our food, but the truth is much more interesting. Taste has far greater implications than a nice, flavorful dinner.

In fact, each of our five basic tastes are thought to have played a role in ensuring the survival of early humans.

I know this idea of taste aiding in survival might…

There’s no other part of baking that can relieve some aggression like punching the dough.

If you’re a baker, I’m sure you’re familiar with punching the dough down between the first and second rise. But, as someone who only sporadically bakes, I found this step fun, but rather counterintuitive.

I mean during the first rise you give the yeast enough time to start producing carbon dioxide bubbles to expand the dough to twice its size only to punch it back down?! Then, you wait during the second rise for those carbon dioxide bubbles to form again!! This seems like madness.


I’m a food scientist by PhD, a science writer, and a YouTuber. I’m fascinated by food science and enjoy writing and sharing what I’ve learn

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