The Science Of Food Explored, Explained And Made Exciting!

What makes a roast potato golden? How does custard thicken? Why is 5OC to 63C the ‘danger zone’? And is too much sugar bad for a cake?

The science of cookery is fascinating, and being able to understand and explain why food behaves in certain ways a crucial part of food technology lessons. But with so much to know the subject can be daunting.

Award-winning food teacher Barbara Monks ( has taken the science and distilled it into four booklets designed to help lesson planning and accompany practical cookery sessions.

Each booklet takes commonly asked question as its theme and title: Is it Done? Is it Thick?, Will it Work? and Is it Safe? These are answered in straightforward, jargon-free explanations of the science of browning, thickening, how ingredients work together and food safety.

The booklets offer teachers, and their students, informative insights into ingredients and processes, allowing them to develop creative, technical and practical expertise.

Is it Done? Looks at the scientific changes that take place between ingredients as they are cooked. The colour of food, its texture and smell all indicate whether it is properly cooked, and the different processes behind those features are explored in this booklet - including the secret of the golden roast potato (its starch content). Cooking methods are also explained, opening up opportunities for students to consider not just the food they are cooking but the equipment they use.

Is it Thick? Focusses on the viscosity of foods and the different thickening agents that give texture. The amounts used, and how they are applied, can make the difference between a perfect custard and a lumpy one.  It also looks at the processes, such as gelatinisation and coagulation.

Will it Work? Is the important explanation of the route to culinary success! This booklet looks at how and why ingredients work together or against each other and the ways to affect texture, flavour and smell. 
A ‘fault-finder’ section addresses common problems (such as the sunken sugar-laden cake) and descriptions and explanations will help students make crucial decisions as they design their recipes and evaluate their success.

Is it Safe? Takes a close look at food safety and hygiene in the kitchen. From preparation to cooking to storage this booklet equips teachers and students with an understanding of the basic principles. It also looks at allergies and intolerances.

And a comprehensive list of additives unlocks the secrets of the E numbers. A section on food poisoning describes the most common micro-organisms whilst a look at fridge temperatures reveals the perfect temperature for bacteria to multiply – the danger zone of 5OC to 63OC.

Barbara explains the thinking behind the booklets: “Food teaching is a huge subject and the science forms the building blocks.  As teachers we all aspire to inspire, and I believe it’s possible to instil a love of cooking based on those building blocks of thorough knowledge. Once the processes are understood students can improvise, discover and create. And hopefully they will take their knowledge from classroom to their kitchens, so their academic achievements have a positive effect at home too.”

Quote from happy teacher?

The 16pp booklets are printed on classroom and kitchen-friendly hard wearing paper and cost £12.50 for the set (including including P&P and Paypal fee). They are available from
Barbara’s website also has a wealth of practical information, recipe ideas and foodies insights to help lesson planning.


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