A few simple chemical processes can make your Thanksgiving meal tastier and healthier. If you wish to step up your cooking skills this year, here are a couple of tips to let chemistry lead the way:
1. Add vodka to your pie crust.
This rationale isn’t to intoxicate your pie – it has to do with gluten. When water is added to flour, gliadin and glutenin (two wheat flour proteins) combine to form gluten. Too much gluten formation leads to a leathery and tough crust. Since vodka is composed of 60% water and 40% ethanol, only 60% of the solution will create gluten if you add it to your mix. Meanwhile, 100% moistens the dough, making it easier to roll. The result is a tender and flaky crust delicious enough to impress your grandma.
2. Brine your way to better turkey.
Avoid the travesty of dry, tasteless meat by soaking your turkey in cold salt water for several hours prior to cooking. Osmosis will take place because the solute (salt) will travel from where it is highly concentrated (the salt water) to where there is low concentration (the turkey). The salt will flow into the turkey until there’s an equal concentration of salt in the water and meat. Infusing lots of salt into the meat means the proteins will hold more moisture, ultimately making your turkey juicier.
3. Enjoy plain cranberries for the added health benefit.
Cranberries are a superfood packed with antioxidants, but heating them breaks these nutrients down. Even though dried or cooked cranberries still have more antioxidants than most other foods, you might want to try plain cranberries to maximize the health benefits.