Archive for the ‘Science & Technology’ Category

I’m creating a brand new category for this post and I’m calling it:
What the F#@k?!’

Apparently when the Chinese aren’t too busy sending missiles into space to destroy satellites/create space debris they do like to mutate the occasional vegetable seed with cosmic radiation. One of these seed mutating missions brought back a potato seed from space that has been successfully grown to produce a purple potato.

I shit you not.

crazy-purple-spuds.pngFrom fitsugar.com:

Apparently they are all the rage in Shanghai. Slightly sweet and purple in color, they are known as the Purple Orchid Three.

The Chinese space program claims that they have produced other fruits and veggies from other seeds that have been exposed to radiation, capsule pressure, and weightlessness.

From yumsugar.com

Last year China’s second manned space mission (shown during take off) included many plant experiments. During the five day flight, some onboard sweet potato seeds mutated. When they returned to Earth they were planted on the beaches of southern Hainan Island. The end result? A purple potato (dubbed “Purple Orchid III”) that tastes and smells the same as its Earth brethren, but is more “glutinous.”

Want more? Here’s a CNN article.

I tend to agree with the author of the yumsugar article who says this all sounds a little bit too much like ‘the plot to a rather bad B horror film’. A better name for this potato might be “Purple Orchid III: The Reckoning”.

Thanks AndyP for the heads up on this.


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While I’m going to keep right on eating french fries despite their alleged health risks, I feel it my duty to keep the more health conscious reader(s) abreast of the latest research on the healthification of french fries. I’ve posted about acrylamide in fries before, you may remember it from such posts as:
Acrylamide…delicious but deadly.

Well the latest research, by a Chinese team, has shown that…

Soaking potato pieces in a bamboo extract prior to cooking can limit the development of acrylamide—a potential carcinogen—in french fries.

That’s all well and good, but I think Confucius was onto something when he said ‘Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without’ and…’man who go to bed with itchy butt wake up with smelly fingers‘.

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homer-smart.gifEnzymes improve quality of French fries, says study

Using pectolytic and hemicellulytic enzymes to change the microstructure of potato cells in French fries improves the quality of the finished product, suggests research from Novozymes.

Writing in the Elsevier journal Food Chemistry, Lisinska and co-workers report: “The results obtained in the study show that pectolytic and hemicellulytic activities of enzymes used for French fries production improve the quality of the finished product, especially fat content, after the first and the second stage of frying, which was 10-20 per cent lower in treated than in untreated French fries.”

Using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the researchers report that the enzymes worked by destroying the cell wall of the potato cells.

“Destruction of the cell structure caused by enzymes suppressed penetration of fat into the internal portion of French fries, immediately after they had been taken out of the frying oil,” they said.

I’ll digest my fries myself, thank you very much.

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From CEE-foodindustry.com

Using the common food additive calcium chloride could reduce the formation of acrylamide in potato chips and French fries by about 95 per cent, according to a new study.

The researchers, from Hacettepe University and the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, report that by immersing the potato crisps and French fries in the calcium chloride solution prior to the frying process, could reduce the formation of this cancer-causing compound.

The cut potatoes were immersed in a solution of calcium chloride for 15, 30 or 60 minutes and then fried in sunflower oil for five minutes at 170 degrees Celsius, to enable the Maillard browning reaction to occur.

Interesting, but what the heck is the Maillard browning reaction?…Click here to find out, but I warn you, the answer is terribly uninteresting. Then again, if you’ve made it this far in this post…

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…and yes, this material will be on the midterm.

From UC Davis Magazine:


The most important factor that distinguishes a potato from a french fry is its layers. A raw potato is 100 percent “core,” with no crunchy crust to please the palate. A potato chip, on the other hand, is 100 percent crust, crisp all the way through. Somewhere in between lies the fresh french fry.

Once a potato strip is immersed in hot frying oil, a crusty front immediately forms on the raw fry’s surface and begins moving inward, like the hardening crystal edges of a lake in early winter. From that point on, drawing the line between the crust and the core of a frying potato is like shooting at a rapidly moving target. It’s nearly impossible.

On a typical day at McDonald’s, oil temperature in the fryer averages about 340 degrees F. So when a cook grabs strips of icy potatoes out of the freezer and tosses them into hot oil, water in the potatoes immediately begins to evaporate. Bubbles and steam emerge, creating an enormous cycle of heat transfer between the oil and the potato. The process, Farkas says, may be the most important factor in producing the texture of the final fried product.

Heat transfer between potato and oil happens rapidly at first. As water evaporates from the surface of the potato, pores form on the potato that act as windows for the penetration of oil into the food. The more water the food contains, the more oil it will absorb, because more water evaporation opens more windows for oil to penetrate.

Temperatures at the crust quickly rise and approach the temperature of the surrounding oil. Protected by the crust, however, the core’s temperature hovers at about 212 degrees F, the boiling point of water, even in the midst of much hotter deep-fat frying oil.

After exactly three minutes in the fryer, the crust of a McDonald’s fry measures between one and two millimeters thick, about the same thickness as a paper clip viewed from the side.

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Okay, so now I’m more amused than outraged…very amused.

Here is another French Fry Vending Machine from Spain.

The Patatas Chef, proud purveyor of the Spanish Fry. (snicker)


Spanish Fry Vending Scientists?


Spanish Fry production process:



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Very Fry-Tech

I find myself feeling both amused and outraged.

Hanna Introduces . . . The French Fry Vendor

Hot Air, not hot oil.
The French Fry Vendor does not cook with hot oil.


It utilizes an impingement style oven, which cooks
delicious real French fries with in just 35 seconds
(cooking time only Time Saver.)

Offering a hot tasty snack satisfies today’s consumer
time constraints and eliminates the need for your
consumers to leave the vend area to find hot fries.

Real French Fried Potatoes.
Vend Fries are not deep-fried in the machine.
The patented hot air cooking process results in
20% less fat than traditional fast food fries.

• Real French Fried Potatoes
• Coin-to-Cup Vend Cycle is 45 Seconds
• Patented System Cooks with Hot Air, not Hot Oil
• 20% Less Fat Than Traditional Fast-Food Fries
• Microprocessor Controlled Diagnostics
• Holds Approximately 150 Servings of Delicious French Fries
• Self Cleaning Impingement Style Oven

I’m not making this up!

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