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  1. Capsaicin is an irritant, the primary function in nature is to detract herbivores from eating plants that contain it. Human's enjoyment of spicy foods have often been called a form of benign masochism; an exchange of pain with pleasure- capsaicin with endorphins. As an irritant, capsaicin causes an immune system response. Inflammation of mucosal membranes, increase of body temperature, profuse sweating, rise in gastric acids, etc. These are symptoms of our immune system trying to defend itself from said irritant. There's even been evidence that suggests that capsaicin, and this ritual of elevating inflammatory response of our immune system can actually be good for you.
  2. There are several things going on here... Pectin is merely a polysaccharide; like starch, or chitin, or cellulose. There is absolutely no danger in it. Now, potassium benzoate, like all preservatives, is a biocide, and many consumer brands of pectin have preservatives mixed in with the pectin. Biocide is a very generic term that is described for any substance that kills microorganisms and pest. Preservatives preserve by killing off bacteria that would otherwise grow within your food and spoil it. Saying that because we in-avoidably consume a wide array of biocides and we shouldn't be concerned about any and all biocides is an oversimplification. The reality of course is that some biocides are worse *much worse* then others... However, there is a rational intermediary between being terrorized by any and all food additives and being completely thoughtless of what we put in our foods. Recently, preservatives like sodium benzoate & potassium benzoate have come under attack with new concerns about food safety; if possible it would be advisable to avoid using pectin that has those preservatives mixed in. At this point there is evidence that suggests there is a public health problem with these preservatives, but at the same time its an unavoidable substance in our daily diet, and while we should avoid the unnecessary consumption of these chemical preservatives, we shouldn't vacillate ourselves over uncertain public health concerns. Taking a tempered approach means we should utilize chemical preservatives when necessary and avoid them when not; jams are very susceptible to bacterial growth and spoilage, if you are making jams commercially its advisable to add a preservative to maintain a level of consistency for your product and improve shelf-life. If you are making jams for yourself, and are not worried about long shelf-life, or are confident in your own techniques that reduce the variables that contribute to spoilage, then there is nothing wrong with avoiding the use of chemical preservatives.
  3. Its interesting, I know the stomping on the dough and the use of kansui is to bring out the koshi (texture/elasticity) in the noodles. I always assumed that the reason kansui wasn't used more in traditional Japanese noodles was because of geographical and historical reasons; since inland locations that didn't have immediate access to the ocean and had to to rely on agricultural sources for sustenance, and hence a history of noodles, didn't have access to kansui in Japan until relatively recently. All the recipes I've looked at only used water, so I know you're right, and I've never used kansui personally in soba or udon, but I've always wondered the logic of it. But perhaps I'm mistaken in the level of koshi that is ideal for soba. 'Weaker hands' and less gluten for elasticity may produce better soba.
  4. I keep both pre-peeled and fresh garlic in my kitchen. I never buy pre-sliced or diced garlic, since I find them to taste odd. But the pre-peeled garlic is really there for my convenience, and for many situations they are incredibly useful. I also make caramelized garlic & onion confit and keep it ready for times when I need it since I find them to be useful in many situations.
  5. Wow, that looks like so much fun . I got a general question about making fresh soba, and this looks to be a good a place as any to ask. For soba do you use kansui (鹹水), the alkaline solution that gives noodles elasticity and texture, like in many other noodles? I know, Okinawa soba uses it, but Okinawa soba has roots closer to Chinese noodles and is eaten differently from soba. In my attempts at making udon and soba I've always kept it out, but I've always thought that it might be better to add it in. Any insight?
  6. I've been really looking forward to this book for a long time. I pre-ordered a copy from Amazon months ago, but I got an email today stating that they have no copies left and its back-ordered. I thought this book to be a perfect present for someone I know and pre-ordered a second copy a little over a week ago as a gift, strange thing is, my very recent pre-order was filled and sent out, but the pre-order I made ages ago got back-ordered. I guess Amazon doesn't fill pre-orders in the order they receive them .
  7. This is what I would have assumed, but the bulk of fish sold for raw consumption is cryogenically flash frozen. It's required by law for all but one or two species of fish, in order to kill parasites ... but it's done fast enough that cellular damage is minimal, and the texture of the fish doesn't suffer. I've read that some sushi chefs actually prefer flash frozen fish, because in many cases the texture penalty is minimal if it's there at all, and the improvement to freshness is noticeable. I'd think these freezing conditions would be the exact ones that encourage parasites to survive, but apparently that's not the case. ← When we refer to 'flash frozen' from a food science perspective its dramatically different from the ultra-rapid vitirification that is used for cryogenic work. The requirements for keeping an organisms alive after frozen are incredibly strict from what we consider to be 'fresh' when eaten; as I'm sure you can imagine. For comparison, a standard liquid nitrogen freezer is -190 degrees Celsius. The goal to make a multicelluar organism survive phase change between liquid to solid requires the liquid matter in the organism to change into an amorphous solid that is free from any crystalline structure. For many organisms DMSO is toxic (even at low concentrations), and glycerol isn't practical, hence cryoprotectants aren't an option in many circumstances. Even if those hurdles are met, the amount of cellular damage is fatal for most organisms, and under the most modern vitrification technologies there is still significant tissue damage. If we simplify our thinking; what percent cell damage do you think an organism can survive? 5%? 10%? 30%?
  8. OK, but WHY does TIME matter? Once something is frozen solid, I would have thought that was it. But it does not seem to be. For some reason, holding something at freezing temperatures for what to me seems like far longer than it would take to reach thermal equilibrium kills more critters. What is the mechanism through which this occurs? Or is this simply a matter of the FDA over-simplifying the science, and basically assuming that any time we freeze we are freezing a whole animal, and thus at high temperatures it really does take 2-3 weeks to actually freeze through? ← Time doesn't stop because of freezing, there are still solid-solid phase transitions, and there are reactions going on after what we consider is frozen. In the case of supercooling the temperature continues to drop below the freezing point of the substance without any crystalline structures forming. Whether and to what extent a substance tends to supercool rather than undergo a phase change at its freezing point is often a function of the purity of the substance and the presence or absence of seed crystals or seed surfaces within the liquid. My assumption regarding FDA regulations is that these are the upper-time limits in which parasites cannot reliability survive.
  9. The problem relative to cellular damage is the phase change between liquid to solid. But crystallization is part of it, as is the expansion of the medium as you have stated. I suppose it can be either complicated or simple depending on your perspective, however, any organism not adapted to live in cold temperatures will unlikely survive (as you have also stated). Arctic animals do have 'anti-freeze', usually involving cold-induced mitochondrial changes that are correlated with increased glycerol-production. You are absolutely right in stating that most of these arctic creatures aren't completely frozen (there are very few animals that can survive those conditions like the painted turtle hatchling), and most parasites haven't adapted to those conditions and should not survive.
  10. Freezing does kill vegetative bacteria quite effectively. One of the first things you learn as a microbiologist is that you don't store your bacterial samples in water alone. You have to store it along with a cryoprotectant, such as glycerol or DMSO, or else the concentration of viable cells will be dramatically reduced during freezing. Also, for lab use of commercial freezers, one of the primary requirements is that it doesn't have a de-icing feature, since the freezing-thawing of the de-icing cycle can wipe out all your samples. The issue in regards to food safely is that freezing doesn't kill all bacteria, and viable unicellular organisms that do survive can rapidly replicate under the right conditions and become harmful once again. For multicellular organisms, like parasites, the freezing process will cause cellular damage and should be fatal; this is especially true for uncontrolled slow-rate freezing environments, like a normal freezer, that are being frozen primarily in its own fluids without cryoprotectants. Now, in regards to cryobiology, small multicelluar organisms can be frozen if they are frozen fast enough and cold enough. Ultra-rapid vitrification methodology for cryopreservation is widely used to freeze things like embryos, however, even using this methodology 50% of embryos don't survive. On an interesting somewhat off-topic note, its been reported that painted turtle hatchlings can survive freezing. Its thought to be because of high-concentration of glycerol in its blood that acts as a cryoprotectant and other physical changes that promote vitrification. A technique that is similarly by tardigrades (water bears); which can also survive slow-rate freezing.
  11. This isn't true. The association with cancer is to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is used to produce PTFE. PFOA is a carcinogen, but is scacely traceable in the finished product, if at all. The EPA says: ← Your comment illustrates my point, because it wasn't really meant to be true; being that the argument of use of extra oil used cookware that isn't non-stick, as well as the link between aluminum to Alzheimer is also equally dubious as concerns of PTFE. My point being, that there are vague worries and concerns for both sides of the argument; perhaps these concerns can be extrapolated further to many or all food products (fats, carbs, MSG, and the delicious burnt crust on meats). So to quote myself, "until there is clear evidence one way or the other I would use what gives you the best results. "
  12. The real risk of aluminum is largely unproven at this point, but we ingest aluminum everywhere in our everyday lives; its in municipal water supplies, aspirins, antiperspirants, vaccines, medication, as well as other consumables. The use of aluminum cookware is likely a very small percentage of our aluminum intake. Even if you used non-stick coating then you also expose yourself to potentially toxic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is a carcinogen. I've also heard a counter argument to that where if you don't use non-stick coating you have to use more butter or oils to lubricate the surface hence increasing health risks such as heart disease- and now potentially the risk of Alzheimer due to aluminum. Either way you look at it, until there is clear evidence one way or the other I would use what gives you the best results.
  13. Temple

    Macadamia Nut Oil

    I use macadamia nut oil frequently, primarily due to the sweet and fatty fragrance it has with buttery undertones. It has ~80% monounsaturated fat which gives it somewhat a olive oil quality (~73%). Viscosity is pretty thick and it is strongly odoriferous which probably makes it ideal for salad dressing as has been suggested. I know of some mayonnaise recipes that use macadamia nut oil, while I haven't tried any myself, I would suspect it would have a distinct nuttiness to it. Personally, I use macadamia nut oil from Hawaii, but I would assume there are a lot of quality brands. I would look for macadamia nut that has a nice yellow transparent tint to it.
  14. Try Litteri's, they used to sell them a while back, haven't been back there recently so I can't vouch for them currently. But they make fresh sausages daily and I would suspect them to have some behind the counter if you ask. http://www.litteris.com/
  15. Since your eggs are from free-range chickens its likely due to foraging habits and diet of the chicken. As already mentioned, riboflavin/B2 is the main cause, the chicken likely had a diet of chlorophyll-rich plants. Conceptually similar to flamingo's characteristic pink coloring being caused by the beta-carotene from the brine shrimp they eat.
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