Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Olive: Cow's Milk

Ever wondered(or cared) how we have so may types of dairy if it all comes from the same utter? And no, there isn't a chocolate milk cow or an ice cream cow. I checked.

I think most people probably know the basics of milk e.g. whole milk is fattier than skim milk. That's a start, but here are the facts (all legal terms are is quotes):

Milk comes out of the cow as "Whole Milk" as is, with nothing added or removed. This is NOT what you are drinking, unless you are a farmer, you are drinking "Whole Standardized Milk" which means it has gone through many different processes to make it safer to drink and to have a longer shelf life. The two most important processes are "Pasteurization" and "Homogenization." 
Pasteurization is the process of heating the milk to a temperature of no less than 71.7ÂșC for a minimum of 15 seconds (max 25 seconds) so most germs are killed.
Homogenization of milk involves forcing the milk at high pressure through small holes. This breaks up the fat so it spreads evenly throughout the milk and prevents separation of a cream layer when it sits. "Whole Standardized Milk" is where all dairy begins and is derived from. 

This kind of leads us to cream, heavy cream, heavy whipping cream, or whatever else you want to call it are all the same thing. It is the fat rich part of the milk. The cream rises to the top when milk is fresh and is skimmed off to harvest it. This is how we have different levels of fat or "Butterfat Content" in our milk. The "Butterfat" is removed from the "Whole Standardized Milk" then the correct amount is returned to produce whatever type of milk you like.
Some of them are as follows:

1% and 2%- Obviously, 1% or 2% butterfat is added back to the fat-less milk each accordingly.  
Skim-Also known as "Nonfat" milk, food with less than 1/2 a gram of fat per serving can be labelled "fat free" 
Heavy Cream- Butterfat content between 36 and 40%. Being high in fat is the reason you can make whip cream out of it, the high level of fat stabilizes it and holds it together.
Butter- 80% Butterfat, the other 20% is milk solids and water. Made by churning cream until it separates into butter and buttermilk.
"Traditional Buttermilk"- Was the leftover milk from churning cream or milk into butter. (Now buttermilk is made by a culture from a natural bacteria for mass production)
Evaporated Milk- Is evaporated under high pressure to create a concentrated milk product, it is also sterilized. 
Condensed Milk- is concentrated in the same way as evaporated milk, but with the addition of sugar.
(This product is not sterilized but is preserved by the high concentration of sugar.)

There is a lot more dairy to cover but this is the most of it as far as cows milk is concerned. Hope this didn't spoil (milk pun) anything for you. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

High Altitude Cooking

Why do things bake/cook differently when your at a high altitude? ie Denver

Weeeeell. It's all about the water folks. 
The most important fact is that at sea level water boils at 212F degrees. The higher in altitude you go, the lower the boiling temp gets, so by the time you get to (picking on)Denver water boils at just over 200F degrees. But why? 

The boiling point of water is when atmospheric pressure equals the vapor pressure. Basically, there is less atmospheric pressure at a higher elevation, so less vapor pressure is required. The most obvious example of this is a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers increase the pressure so that the water boils at a higher temperature which decreases the amount of time needed to cook Make sense? Great. We all scientists now.

So what it 'Boils' (are you laughing at my humorous pun yet?) down to:
Lower pressure=slower cooking times
Higher pressure=faster cooking times

Take your lab coats off and put your floral patterned baking aprons back on please. So what does it mean when your cooking something?

Well, your water in your recipe is going to boil out quicker so most of the time adjusting means adding more water and more flour (for structure.) You need water in what your baking to keep things chemically reacting properly. For example, baking powder wont react when there is no water. The other big factor is that you will need to increase your cooking time as well. There are a lot of different ways you can adjust but I'm not going to cover them because i don't want to. Cheers!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Olive: Yeast

Round One,
          Hello people or nobody...The purpose of this blog is stated above, it will be more or less bits of information or at least enough so you (and I) could maybe hold a conversation on the subject and sound reasonably smart. I enjoy how food actually works not just the quick answer but the more scientific approach. So here we go...

      So for my first entry I decided to talk about the roll (pun vigorously intended) that yeast plays in bread. EXCITED YET??
      Yeast does a lot of different things in bread but this time we will focus on how it makes bread rise and how it flavors bread.
      Yeast is a very interesting ingredient as it is a living bacteria and reacts to things like any living being does. For example, temperature effects the yeast a lot, when it is too cold it goes dormant, if it gets too hot it dies, but when it is at its favorite temperature (70-90 degrees) it actually grows. This "favorite" temperature is called proofing or fermenting which all yeast bread recipes call for. When it grows it begins to get hungry, its food of choice: sugar! Yeast has the ability to convert the starches that flour has into sugar, if there is not any added sugar in your recipe. A feeding yeast cell gives off carbon dioxide gas, this carbon dioxide creates little pockets in the dough which cause the bread to expand and rise. Like I said though yeast is very effected by temperature so when you bake the dough the yeast dies and the carbon dioxide evaporates leaving behind all of those tiny holes in the bread which is why your baked bread looks like a sponge when you cut it open.

      The flavor in your bread also greatly depends on the development of the yeast. The longer the yeast develops (or ferments) in your bread the more complex, flavorful, and interesting your bread will be. For the same reasons your 65 year old grandfather is probably way more interesting than your 3 year old nephew, things that are older just have more time to become unique, right?  For example, sourdough bread gets its unique flavor from a "culture" usually consisting of flour and usually an acidic fruit juice which ferments and creates a natural form of yeast. This culture is fed by adding flour to it and handled correctly can be cultivated for years, sometimes passed from generation down to generation making the bread a "one-of-a-kind" and quite amazing if you ask me!

      This is a masive topic with endless directions to be talked about, and if your like me these 2 paragraphs didn't answer all your curiosities but i already deleted about 2 pages worth of info and i have to keep it brief so for now thats all you get...

   Next topic: The different kinds milk. How does a cow know when to make 2% or chocolate milk?? Is there an ice cream cow?? I hope so.