THE SCIENCE OF COOKING
Every time you cook, you’re essentially conducting a chemistry experiment in your kitchen.
There might be no test tubes or Bunsen burners involved, but cooking is all about applying heat to a combination of ingredients to change their molecular structure.
The Maillard Reaction
When you sear a steak or even toast bread, the brown colour and altered taste is because of the Maillard Reaction.
The heat causes a chemical reaction between the amino acids and sugars in the food. This results in a number of new molecules, creating the great smells and tastes we’re looking for.
Generally, food needs to cook at above 140°C for the Maillard Reaction to occur. However, as the boiling point of water is 100°C, a higher moisture content can limit the cooking temperature of your food.
This is why poaching or boiling your food results in different colours, flavours and aromas to other cooking methods, as the boiling point of water restricts the food from reaching the cooking temperature needed for the reaction to take place.
Other forms of cooking, such as roasting and frying, can reach higher temperatures. Also some of the moisture in the food will evaporate, allowing the food to reach higher cooking temperatures, increasing the Maillard Reaction.
Of course if the heat is too high and too much water evaporates, you will end up with a very dry, tough and unappetising piece of meat. Plus higher heat also causes more of the nutrients in the food to break down.
Therefore, cooking is often a compromise between the heat needed for the chemical reactions to take place, the moisture retained in the food, and keeping as many nutrients intact as possible.
Steaming your food has long been known to be a healthier alternative. Because the food isn’t submerged in boiling water or subjected to cooking methods that evaporate the moisture, fewer nutrients are leached away and lost in the process.
However, steaming food does not trigger the Maillard Reaction. If you steamed a chicken, the colour wouldn’t brown and the flavour would be different to what you would expect from roasting.
However, steam cooking is fantastic for fish and many vegetables.
The VITALOK™ Cooking Method
To keep more moisture in your food, iCook® cookware is designed so you can use the exclusive VITALOK™ cooking method.
By creating a moisture seal between the pan and the lid, moisture is trapped inside with the food. This gently steams your food while simultaneously cooking it.
By trapping the steam in, fewer nutrients escape and you can achieve fantastic results on a lower heat.
Read more about cooking with the VITALOK™ method.