Friday, January 28, 2011

Edible paper for the edible inks

I should have added this to the other post but in addition to the ink you need something to print on - edible paper!
After some hunting on the internet, I did find the ingredient list for the "frosting paper" sold by KopyKakes.
INGREDIENTS: Water, glucose syrup, corn starch, microcrystal cellulose, sorbit, glycerin, microcrystal cellulose & CMC, starch syrup, locust bean gum, titanium dioxide powder, glucose syrup powder solid, methyl cellulose, potassium sorbate.
 Basically it is a sheet made up of sugar and water with some other ingredients added to give to flexibility and strength.
  • Titanium dioxide powder sounds ominous but it is used as a whitening agent (often used in toothpaste as well)
  • Sorbit is a sugar substitute
  • microcrystal cellulose & CMC and methyl cellulose are used in pills and such stuff since makes the material compressible into either pills or, in this case, paper 
There are also edible ink markers for free hand creating!

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Got time on your hands?

    I kept finding so many cool and innovative ways of teaching/showing/complaining about chemistry that I decided to start a second blog called "off the wall chemistry"

    When you want to goof off for a few minutes or get lost on the digital highway for a few hours - take a look!

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    I need this too! A molecular cuisine kit

    A reader sent me this link to a most awesome kit for doing some of the most basic molecular gastronomy tricks:
    Order from Molecule-R, a Montreal, Quebec company!
    check out this video:

    Ok, so I ordered it... I'll let you know how stuff came out once I get it!!

    I did look at the ingredients list included and it has a number of the chemicals that are included in so many of the products on the store shelves:
    • Sodium alginate
    • Agar agar
    • Xanthum gum
    • Soy Lethicin
    Should be fun finally understanding why these items are added to everything!!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Putting photos on cookies and cakes

    Found these neat cookies on one of my blogs and followed the link to the Bridget the baker at her "Bake at 350" blog. She uses edible inks and paper on an inkjet printer.

    So what the heck are edible inks and how does they work?

    Well, if you want to know what the ingredients are of anything involving chemicals there is probably an MSDS for it. MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheet and is US government mandated for any chemical products produced or sold in the United States. It is a way that purchasers, suppliers and their employees will know what is in the products and be able to handle it safely and dispose of it appropriately.  You can usually google  "productname  MSDS" and something will pop up if it is easily available. Even stuff that is basically harmless will have an MSDS (try: "maple syrup MSDS")

    So I searched for the MSDS for edible inks and found the ingredient list for Candymark edible inks
    FD& C Yellow No.5 (21 CFR 74.705)
    FD& C Red No.3 (21 CFR 74.303)
    FD& C Blue No.1 (21 CFR 74.101)
    FD& C Red No.40 (21 CFR 74.340)
    Deionized Water* (No 21 CFR references exist for water)
    Propylene Glycol* (21 CFR 184.1666)
    Ethyl Alcohol* (21 CFR 184.1293)
    *Volatile components that could remain present in small quantities after printing, depending on the absorptivity of the food product and the drying mechanisms used once the inks have been applied.
    Since edible inks are made up of a number of chemicals, you would have to search for an MSDS for each one since the MSDS's are usually for a chemical not a mixture.  Here is a link to the MSDS for FD&C Yellow no. 5:

    Section 3: Hazards Identification
    Potential Acute Health Effects: Very hazardous in case of inhalation. Hazardous in case of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion.
    Potential Chronic Health Effects:
    Very hazardous in case of inhalation. Hazardous in case of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion. CARCINOGENIC EFFECTS: Not available. MUTAGENIC EFFECTS: Not available. TERATOGENIC EFFECTS: Not available. DEVELOPMENTAL TOXICITY: Not available.
    Section 4: First Aid Measures
    Eye Contact:
    Check for and remove any contact lenses. Immediately flush eyes with running water for at least 15 minutes, keeping eyelids open. Cold water may be used. Do not use an eye ointment. Seek medical attention.
    Skin Contact: No known effect on skin contact, rinse with water for a few minutes.

    Note that the dangers may seem exaggerated in some cases but that the warning is for the purest form and often in bulk.  A tiny bit of food colouring (which is already diluted in water) is not going to hurt you or else there would be greater warnings on the packaging as well.

    The numbers in brackets are Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) references that cover these chemicals. The regulations determine how much of these chemicals are allowed in food in the United States.

    (a) Identity.
    1. The color additive FD&C Yellow No. 5 is principally the trisodium salt of 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-4-[4-sulfophenyl-azo]-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid (CAS Reg. No. 1934210). To manufacture the additive, 4-amino-benzenesulfonic acid is diazotized using hydrochloric acid and sodium nitrite. The diazo compound is coupled with 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid or with the methyl ester, the ethyl ester, or a salt of this carboxylic acid. The resulting dye is purified and isolated as the sodium salt.
    2. Color additive mixtures for food use made with FD&C Yellow No. 5 may contain only those diluents that are suitable and that are listed in part 73 of this chapter as safe for use in color additive mixtures for coloring foods.

    (b) Specifications. FD&C Yellow No. 5 shall conform to the following specifications and shall be free from impurities other than those named to the extent that such other impurities may be avoided by good manufacturing practice: Sum of volatile matter at 135 C (275 F) and chlorides and sulfates (calculated as sodium salts), not more than 13 percent.
    • Water-insoluble matter, not more than 0.2 percent.
    • 4,4-[4,5-Dihydro-5-oxo-4-[(4-sulfophenyl)hydrazono]-1H-pyrazol-1,3-diyl]bis[benzenesulfonic acid], trisodium salt, not more than 1 percent.
    • 4-[(4,5-Disulfo[1,1-biphenyl]-2-yl)hydrazono]-4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid, tetrasodium salt, not more than 1 percent.
    • Ethyl or methyl 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-4-[(4-sulfophenyl)hydrazono]-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylate, disodium salt, not more than 1 percent.
    • Sum of 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-phenyl-4-[(4-sulfophenyl)azo]-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid, disodium salt, and 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-4-(phenylazo)-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid, disodium salt, not more than 0.5 percent.
    • 4-Aminobenzenesulfonic acid, sodium salt, not more than 0.2 percent.
    • 4,5-Dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid, disodium salt, not more than 0.2 percent.
    • Ethyl or methyl 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylate, sodium salt, not more than 0.1 percent.
    • 4,4-(1-Triazene-1,3-diyl)bis[benzenesulfonic acid], disodium salt, not more than 0.05 percent.
    • 4-Aminoazobenzene, not more than 75 parts per billion.
    • 4-Aminobiphenyl, not more than 5 parts per billion.
    • Aniline, not more than 100 parts per billion.
    • Azobenzene, not more than 40 parts per billion.
    • Benzidine, not more than 1 part per billion.
    • 1,3-Diphenyltriazene, not more than 40 parts per billion.
    • Lead (as Pb), not more than 10 parts per million.
    • Arsenic (as As), not more than 3 parts per million

    All of the info I found above is freely available on the internet. So if you are interested or suspicious about what you are cooking with or eating - do some browsing!

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Monosodium glutamate (MSG) - not an allergy!

    In my grad school days, I revelled in the cheap and tasty eats in Toronto's Chinatown but found that after these meals my ears would ring and the tip of my nose would get numb - I thought I had an allergy to MSG.

    Turns out a lot of folks thought that too (called it Chinese restaurant syndrome) but they/we were too quick to point fingers.  Turns out that there was a bit of racialization in this accusation that it was Chinese food only that creates these reactions. Professor Ian Mosby of York University  wrote a history article on how the connection between MSG and chinese food came about:
    This paper examines the ‘discovery’ of the Chinese restaurant syndrome in 1968 and subsequent reactions by the medical community, scientists, public health authorities and the general public to dangers posed by the common food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) and by Chinese cooking more generally. It argues that Chinese restaurant syndrome was, at its core, a product of a racialised discourse that framed much of the scientific, medical and popular discussion surrounding the condition. This particular debate brought to the surface a number of widely held assumptions about the strangely ‘exotic’, ‘bizarre’ and ‘excessive’ practices associated with Chinese cooking which, ultimately, meant that few of those studying the Chinese restaurant syndrome would question the ethnic origins of the condition.
    Research has shown that allergies to the MSG are few and far between - for most people it is probably a sensitivity to something else in the food. In proper clinical trials, people who were convinced they were allergic, could eat food with MSG added without any reaction if they did not know it had been added.  There is some speculation that MSG could increase a person's sensitivity to something else in the food though.

    In fact, the flavour imparted by MSG, unami, is one of the five primary tastes (salty, bitter, sweet, and sour are the other four) and is present in many foods that we eat regularly.
    In the West, Brillat-Savarin in his classic 1825 treatise “The Physiology of Taste” proposed the name “osmasome” to identify the essence of meaty taste, but was not able to isolate the key substance. The discovery of umami in Japan may have been in part due to the simplicity of “dashi,” which is prepared simply by dipping dried kelp (konbu) into boiling water. At the beginning of the 20th century, Ikeda noticed that an unidentified taste quality, dis- tinct from the four basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour and bitter), was present in palatable foods. He detected this taste most clearly in soups and in “dashi” prepared from kelp (konbu) or dried skipjack (katsuobushi), both of which have been used traditionally in Japanese cooking. Subsequently, he investi- gated the constituents of the dried konbu and discovered the taste to be contributed by the glutamate it contained. He named this taste “umami”.  From: Yamaguchi S, Ninomiya K., J Nutr. 2000 Apr;130(4S Suppl):921S-6SUmami and food palatability 
    This table shows some of the glutamate levels in food ("no msg added"):
    Yamaguchi S, Ninomiya K., J Nutr. 2000 Apr;130(4S Suppl):921S-6S. Umami and food palatability
    [This table begs further research into why parmesan cheese has such a high glutamate count compared to other cheeses - in a future post perhaps.]

    L-Glutamic acid is the amino acid component of MSG, and has a long history of use in foods as a flavor enhancer. It is added either as the purified monosodium salt or as a component of a mix of amino acids and small peptides resulting from the acid or enzymatic hydrolysis of proteins. This amino acid is a major constituent of food proteins (in some foods comprising 20% of the total amino acid content), a pivotal metabolic intermediate in amino acid metabolism and a major energy source for cardiac myocytes. Regardless of dietary source (protein, protein hydrolysates or salts of free glutamic acid, including the monosodium salt MSG), all glutamate molecules entering the circulation from the gastrointestinal tract are structurally identical.
    Raif S. Geha, Alexa Beiser, Clement Ren, et al. Review of Alleged Reaction to Monosodium Glutamate and Outcome of a Multicenter Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. 
    So according to Geha et al ("et al" means "and all the other authors of the paper") it should not matter where you get glutamate molecules - they should all give you a reaction if you are going to get one.

    So try a tomato and polenta tart (loaded with naturally occurring glutamates):


    Heirloom Tomato & Polenta Tart

    Photo from Guilty Kitchen
    Yield: One 9″ Tart, about 8 servings
    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cooking Time: 60 minutes
    4 cups  low sodium chicken stock
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup coarse whole grain cornmeal
    2 Tbsp butter
    2 medium sized cobs of fresh corn
    2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    90g Parmesan Cheese, grated fine
    2 Tbsp butter
    300 g ricotta cheese
    1 large egg
    1 1/2 lb. Heirloom tomatoes (about 2 large tomatoes), sliced (about 1/4″ thick)
    sea or kosher salt to taste
    fresh cracked pepper to taste
    1. In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring stock to a boil.
    2. In an even stream, pour in the cornmeal, whisking as you do so. Stir in salt.
    3. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, stirring very often. Continue to stir and check on the polenta for the next 30-40 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, in another large saucepan, fill about half way with water and add about a tsp of salt. Bring to a boil, add in the corn and cook for about 5 minutes.
    5. Remove the corn and run under cold water to stop the cooking process and make it easy to handle.
    6. Hold the corn upright (vertically) and run a knife blade down all sides to remove the kernels.
    7. In a large sauté pan, melt 2 Tbsp of butter and add in the corn, rosemary and garlic. Sauté on medium high until the corn begins to take on a golden look to it and the garlic is fully cooked. About 6-7 minutes.
    8. When the polenta is finished, stir in 2 tbsp of butter, some pepper and the Parmesan cheese. Mix in the corn and rosemary mixture as well and set aside for a minute.
    9. Remove ricotta from refrigerator and stir in one egg and salt and pepper to taste, mixing until completely incorporated.
    10. Grease a 9″ round baking dish (preferably glass).
    11. Line greased baking dish with polenta, pushing it up so it meets the sides and leaves a bit of a well in the center for the remaining ingredients. Kind of like you are making a very thickly crusted pie.
    12. Pour the seasoned ricotta into the well and even it out with a spatula or large spoon.
    13. Top tart with concentric rings of tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper and bake in a 400°F oven for 45-60 minutes.
    14. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serve with a side salad for a wonderfully refreshing, seasonal dinner.

    UPDATE: Additional reference!
    If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn't everyone in Asia have a headache?
    Alex Renton
    The Observer, Sunday 10 July 2005


    A. N. Williams, K. M. Woessner, “Monosodium glutamate 'allergy': menace or myth?” Clinical & Experimental Allergy May 2009, 39(5), Pages: 640-646

    Ian Mosby, `That Won-Ton Soup Headache’: The Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, MSG and the Making of American Food, 1968–1980 Social History of Medicine April 2009, 22 (1), pg. 133-151 

    Raif S. Geha, Alexa Beiser, Clement Ren, et al. Review of Alleged Reaction to Monosodium Glutamate and Outcome of a Multicenter Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study.  Journal of Nutrition April 2000 130, 1058 suppl.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    "colors of chemistry" and cooking!

    The American Chemical Society is celebrating the International Year of Chemistry with a monthly photo contest called the "Colors of Chemistry" and each month will have a different theme - coincidentally, the first month's theme is "chemistry in our food"!

    Here is a list of the other themes and the entry dates:

    MonthThemeEntry DeadlineVoting Phase
    JanuaryFoodJan 15, 2011Jan 16-31, 2011
    FebruaryAnimalsFeb 15, 2011Feb 16-28, 2011
    MarchWaterMar 15, 2011Mar 16-31, 2011
    AprilPastimesApr 15, 2011Apr 16-30, 2011
    MayDrinksMay 15, 2011May 16-31, 2011
    JuneAtmosphereJun 15, 2011Jun 16-30, 2011
    JulyTechnologyJul 15, 2011Jul 16-31, 2011
    AugustGardensAug 15, 2011Aug 16-31, 2011
    SeptemberMicrobesSep 15, 2011Sep 16-30, 2011
    OctoberForestsOct 15, 2011Oct 16-31, 2011
    NovemberSoilNov 15, 2011Nov 16-30, 2011
    DecemberCitiesDec 15, 2011Dec 16-31, 2011
    For examples of photos used in the ACS Colors of Chemistry calendar click here.

    So if you like photography, food and chemistry, here is a contest for you!