Nitro Popcorns - The science behind fun

Working with liquid nitrogen excites me and my fellow chefs more than the dangers involved; Good composure and safety measures are a must if one tends to look and feel beyond what liquid nitrogen has to offer, although the science involved has the eminent answer to all those gimmicks we tend to forgo this particular aspect. 

So what is the misty effect one gets when you remove liquid nitrogen into the atmosphere which is to room temperature ?
When you boil water, you make the pot really hot until it gets to a specific temperature, called the boiling point, then the liquid starts turning into a gas.  For water the boiling point is 212 degrees, that’s why we need to heat it on a stove.  For nitrogen the boiling point is minus 320 degrees, so the liquid nitrogen is boiling at room temperature to become air.  

What is this smoke coming off the nitrogen, does that remind you of anything? (fog).  
It actually is the same as fog.  The liquid nitrogen makes the nearby air very cold.  The air can’t hold as much water vapor when it’s colder, so some of the water vapor condenses into small water droplets that we see as fog, just like you can see over the ocean in the morning.

Herve This who unarguably the farther of Molecular Gastronomy in his book has a chapter dedicated to caramel and also questions the mystery behind 2000 years of research over the enigma of sugar and the stages involved in-caramelisation,The aroma and the flavour is still a mystery, The first actual scientific studies of caramel were done by French chemist Etinne Peligot in 1838 but only in 1989 the presence of glucose itself was detected thru modern research methods.

Temperatures play an important role in determining the finished product, Room temperature at times proves fatal as the sugar continuously attracts moisture from the air turning it soggy and unattractive to ones palate, The stages of heating sugar also is a diabolical work of precession,byproducts tend to change characteristics in a blink of an eye.

Decoding Popcorn 
The most intriguing part of popcorn is the science behind how it pops. Popcorn is the only grain in the corn family that pops open when exposed to temperatures above 180° C. A popcorn kernel is composed of 3 parts: the pericarp, germ, and endosperm. 
The pericarp is the tough outer shell surrounding a popcorn kernel, and the key to what makes it pop. Inside the pericarp is the germ, or seed embryo. Adjacent to the germ is the endosperm, which contains some trapped water plus soft and hard starch granules that serve as food for the germ when it sprouts.
When a popcorn kernel is heated, the trapped water in the endosperm turns into steam, building up pressure inside the pericarp. This pressurized, super-heated steam transforms the soft starch in the endosperm into a gelatinous material. Popcorn pericarp is much stronger than that of all other corn kernels and is able to retain this pressurized steam up to 9.2 atm (135 psi).
Above that pressure, the pericarp ruptures, releasing the steam and gelatinous starch that solidifies upon cooling. The resulting popped kernel is 40 to 50 times its original size. 


Why Caramel popcorn ? 
The caramel traps the cold air which is penetrating inside the popped up kernel and is occupying the vacuum created by that 132 psi in popcorn as it instantiously solidifies due to its natural charestertics of cooling of caramel, The crust turns hard ,crisper and crunchier as the whole process of cooling happens so rapidly -320 is what we are talking about and that too in a fraction of a second.

Aspire like Dragon
The actual fun begins when one bites the Nitro Caramel Popcorn, The trapped mist and cold air is let loose as the crust breaks when we have the first bite, The cold air tries his way out thru every possible ventilation; be it nostril or the mouth, and hence one aspires like a dragon. 

©eurekachef



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