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Science As You’ve Never Tasted It

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Science As You’ve Never Tasted It

Amber Brandt
Posted: 7/15/2015

Many parents are on the lookout for clever ways to sneak vegetables into their kids’ favorite dishes. But did you know that some of their favorite snacks are actually sneaking in a science experiment, too? While most of us cook meals each day, we rarely realize the amount of chemistry, biology, or physics we’re actually practicing. Here are some simple and delicious ways you can incorporate learning into two treats you’ll be enjoying this summer. We guarantee, science has never tasted so good! Ice Cream 

"I Can’t Believe It’s Science!" (get it?) 

Who doesn’t love a cold, creamy treat on a hot day? Let’s face it, most of us will be gobbling up ice cream like it’s going out of style this summer, so why not turn it into a delicious experiment your whole family will enjoy?! Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • 1 cup half and half 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 2-3 cups crushed ice 
  • 1/3-1/2 cup coarse salt (rock or kosher work well) 
  • 1 gallon freezer bag 
  • 1 quart-sized freezer bag 

The tasty part: 

Put first three ingredients into the smaller freezer bag and seal tightly. Put ice and salt in the larger bag, and place smaller bag inside of it. Shake, squeeze, and knead for about 10-15 minutes, until the cream thickens. Remove the small bag, rinse excess salt, open, and enjoy! 

The science part: 

The magic of a liquid becoming a solid has to do with dropping the temperature of the ice cream mixture. As a liquid becomes cooler, the molecules that comprise it slow down and start sticking to each other. In our experiment, the ice is already colder than the ingredient mixture but by also adding salt, we can lower the temperature even more, causing the cream to freeze...and become delicious. 

Incredible, Edible Explosions 

Having a family movie night? Why not pop some corn directly from the cob? Be aware that only one type of corn pops - so make sure you buy an actual popcorn cob! You also need two small paper lunch bags and a microwave. 

The tasty part: 

Simply place a shucked, raw corncob into one paper lunch bag, and slide the other bag over the open side to create an enclosed pouch. Place pouch in the microwave on high for three minutes. When timer sounds, remove pouch and open over a large bowl. Be careful though, the contents are surprisingly hot. Season with melted butter and salt. Nibble to your heart’s content. 

The science part: 

Popcorn is a whole grain made up of three components: the germ, endosperm, and hull. Popcorn is special because its hull has the perfect thickness to allow it to burst. Each kernel contains a tiny amount of water stored inside its starch. When the kernel is heated, the water expands until it reaches about 350 degrees! The pressure eventually becomes too much for the tiny kernel to handle and so it pops - releasing steam (which you saw pouring out of the bag when you opened it). Hard to believe the finished product is about 40 to 50 times its original size!

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