Molecules, Microbes, and Meals: The Surprising Science of Food

ISBN : 9780190687694

Alan Kelly
312 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
May 2019
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The goal of Molecules, Microbes, and Meals is to provide an overview of the science of food, exploring all aspects of how food products we purchase and consume come to have the characteristics they do. The key focus is on the science underpinning the appearance, flavor, texture and qualities of food, and the transformations that occur when we cook food products. Every food product is a highly complex scientific entity, and a key objective of the book is to show that an understanding of the science of food can enhance our appreciation and wonder at it. Another key theme will be the convergence of science and art in food, and the history of food, whereby we have known how to undertake what are exceptionally scientifically complex activities such as fermentation, pasteurization and cooking long before the scientific basis for what was happening was understood.


1. Introduction
2. The origins of spices (and other foodstuffs)
3. Consistency and change: proteins in food
4. Build 'em up and break 'em down
5. Fat, oils and the uneasy truces of emulsions and foams
6. From sweetness to structure: carbohydrates in food
7. The many roles of micro-organisms: the good, the bad and the ugly
8. The rising power of yeast
9. A word on the wonderful weirdness of water
10. From Napoleon to Nasa: the development of food processing
11. Heating and cooling of food: simple, crude but effective
12. For my next trick: making water disappear
13. Squashing, filtering, and other ways we process food
14. Not just a bag: the science of food packaging
15. Innovation and the development of recipes and formulations
16. The experience of eating
17. The kitchen and the lab
18. Final thoughts
Appendix 1: On the analysis of food
Further reading suggestions

About the author: 

Alan Kelly is a Professor in Food Science at University College Cork, where he specializes in teaching and research in the science of dairy products, and food processing and innovation more generally.

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