Getting to know the NCBE

The National Center for Biotechnology Education has been a great resource for me. They even sell hard to get hard to get enzymes (page 4.)

The NCBE has a set of practicals and some teach their lessons through edible culinary experiments. The writing here is a brilliant, designed to be first introductions to the various topics, and therefore particularly accessible to those new to food science.

The first practical from the NCBE I had ever come across was In a Jam and Out of Juice. Here, the role of enzymes is explored in the processing of fruit. Enzymes are often used to clarify juices and get higher yields when juicing. They also peel citrus fruits and augment the texture of jams & fruit desserts. Enzymatic bittering is also discussed which has become a particularly important concept for the carbonated cocktails I’ve been storing long term in champagne bottles.

The PDF is unfortunately broken up into quite a few parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.

I guarantee this is the most enlightening and articulate guide you can find for bringing modern fruit processing to culinary programs.

The Practical Fermentation Guide is brilliant. At first glance it does not seem of too much culinary value and then the gems start to stick out.  They explore sauerkraut as well as the reasons you need starters or supplemental acidity so you can begin at optimal pH for the growth of your target microorganisms. Their ingenious illustrations show how samples can be easily taken while maintaining cleanliness of the fermentation. Aromatic ester production in fermented foods is explored. And on page 13, back in 1999, they explore spherification. In 2003 Ferran Adrià went on to re-render this lesson in a beautiful edible context.

The Practical Biotechnology guides often relate directly to culinary. There are many topics there but I selected only the ones that are most practical as kitchen experiments.

Tempe – An Indonesian Fermented Food.

Kefir – A multicultural Fermentation

Better Milk for Cats Wow, you even make calcium alginate beads!

Low Lactose Yogurt

Oyster Cap Mushrooms Grow oyster cap mushrooms on a roll of unbleached toilet paper. I wonder how good they taste. They even provide a wonderful looking recipe to try your home grown mushrooms with.

Among the most interesting practical is the yet to be published Fermented Soft Drinks. The gem of the lessons here is how raisins can be added to the naturally carbonated  sodas to act as a primitive hygrometer and indicated when fermentation is complete. This may be the best guide to yeast carbonated sodas I’ve ever seen.

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