Electronic Tongues

I do this lab with my advanced biology class called “The Mystery Milk” lab. I give them 4 unknown liquids and they have to use a series of indicators to figure out what these milk-like products are. The students always ask me if they can taste the products (Answer: No, it’s a science lab). But imagine if there WAS a device that acted like a tongue for mystery liquids… Beer, Wine, Milk Scientists have used a combination of techniques to create electronic tongues (and noses). The tongue was able to identify wine from beer from milk. In fact, it was…

CBD, THC, and ECS

I recently had the chance to do some research on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and cannabidiol (CBD). What I realized was that there are lots of myths, some truths, and way too much marketing. So, in this post, I’ll simply present to you what the research says. No gimmicks, I’m not selling anything, and you’re free to make your own decisions. Endocannabinoid System The ECS consists of three parts: ligands, receptors, and deactivating enzymes. The ligands are lipid-based molecules called endocannabinoids and they bind to the receptors, CB1 and CB2. Deactivating enzymes do exactly that, deactivate the ligands after they’ve…

sterilization

Sterilization of Milk

Ah! Milk on the Shelf If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, you’ll notice something interesting. In the grocery stores, milk and eggs sit out in the aisles unrefrigerated. What kind of magic is this?! The secret to Europe’s room temperature dairy products is sterilization and vaccinations. Milk Bacteria While pasteurization kills most of the bacteria in milk, sterilization kills all the bacteria. It may not seem like a big difference, but without any living microorganisms in the milk, there’s no chance of it spoiling at room temperature. Milk can be stored at room temperature as long as the container is…

not lagers

The Lager Story

The German Lager Compared to the Belgians, German beers are rather monotonous. Instead of using ale yeast, lager yeast (a more chilled out yeast) is used in the brewing process. There are two historical events to thank for all this: a beer purity law and a duke. The law was called the Reinheitsgebot and it said that beer could only be made from barley, water, and hops. As for the duke, well, he really liked predictable beer flavors, so he insisted people only brew between September 29th and April 23rd. Lagering If you’re a baker, you’ll know that keeping ingredients…

the lambic

The Lambic: Belgian Microbe Magic

Cantillon Tucked away in a small alley in Brussels, there’s a brewery that still practices open fermentation. Hundreds of yeast and bacteria in the air (the “open” part) are responsible for brewing (the “fermentation” part) a very special kind of beer called the lambic. Unlike other breweries you may have visited, this one has no sterile steel tanks, no shiny floors, and no smell of disinfecting compounds. Spiderwebs cover the barrels, the ceiling, and all the other nooks and crannies. The arachnids are well fed by gnats and fruit flies swarming around the barrels of fermenting beer. Bungholes ooze with…

sugar alcohols

Sugar Alcohols

=O to -OH While there are many types of sugar substitutes out there, this post will focus on the sugar alcohols. First, what are sugar alcohols? Molecularly, sugar alcohols are sugars (glucose, fructose, etc.) that have their double-bonded oxygen hydrogenated. If you can’t picture that, it’s okay, here’s what it looks like: =O becomes -OHNow, this may not seem like a significant change to us, but it makes quite a difference in the sweetness and the fermentability of the sugar. Sugar alcohols are less sweet and the bacteria in your mouth are incapable of fermenting them; plus, they also don’t…

Understanding Food Labels

Food Labels written by Shirley F. Edited for OralGrooves.com by Evie What’s Legit? When buying food, most people take food labels at face value. If the label on a carton of eggs says “cage free,” one imagines that the chickens were free to roam on a large space of land; however, it mostly means that the chickens were jammed into a small space with just enough room for them to be able to stand. Why? Because there is no USDA regulation for the term “cage-free”. Let’s take a look at some common food labels and their legal definitions. All Natural…

the liver

Job of the Liver

Food to Fuel Before I start talking about what the liver does, let’s start by breaking down the chemical composition of our food. Four macromolecules make up all the food you eat: proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids. Vitamins and minerals make up only a small percentage of food. Imagine eating an orange slice, the majority of what you are chewing and swallowing is water, sugar, and fiber. Digestive enzymes breakdown these macromolecules into their respective building blocks. Monomers of proteins are amino acids Monomers of carbohydrates are monosaccharides (or simple sugars) Monomers of lipids are fatty acids Monomers of…

beer yeast

We Bow to Yeast

Fun Guys There are many factors that determine beer flavor, but the most finicky and temperamental of them all is the yeast. Beer yeast fall under Kingdom Fungi, and as the name suggests, they are indeed fun guys. Before we get this party started though, a little beer science. Preparing the Ingredients There are three main ingredients that go into making beer: water, barley, and hops. Yeast is the activating agent. The grain must first be partially sprouted; we call this process “malting”. Malting causes the plant to produce a starch-breaking enzyme that turns starch into simple sugars. Beer yeast…