What is molecular gastronomy?

In the simplest of terms, it is applying chemistry to foods.  The deeper explanation is examining the science of traditional foods and cooking, then using that science in new ways.  From the food safety professional’s view, new can mean new hazards that need new controls.  Let’s start with a list and brief explanation of some molecular gastronomy foods and processes.

  1. Dehydrating (warm or hot)
  2. Freeze drying – once relegated to large food manufacturers, at least one company now produces a less expensive and smaller unit that can be used in restaurants.
  3. Liquid nitrogen freezing of foods or adding liquid nitrogen to foods or beverages
  4. Freezing plates.  e.g. the anti-griddle – a new appliance that has a frozen surface to freeze foods quickly
  5. Spherification – think boba (tapioca balls); but instead, these have centers of almost any liquid or puree (savory or sweet).  AKA faux caviar.
  6. Transglutaminase – aka “meat glue
  7. Hydrocolloid use – gels, starches, pectins, and gums are all used by the food industry.  Now restaurants are doing the same.
  8. Black garlic – thermal caramelization turning garlic into “candy”
  9. Edible paper and ink.  If it says, “food grade” or edible” it should be safe.  See an FDA warning.
  10. Distillation – Rotovap equipment
  11. Supplements as ingredients (CBD’s, etc).
  12. Smells for success – terpenes and other aroma additives
  13. The FDA “Everything added to Foods” List. May help determine if an additive is safe in foods.