Food Science Basics in 6 weeks – part 1: Introduction

Welcome! Great that you’ve decided to immerse yourself in the world of food & science :-). Or great that you’ve landed here by accident, stick around just a little longer, at least until the next 2 paragraphs.

Want a quick summary? Scroll down to watch the slides!

Ever wondered why your pancake remains flat and doesn’t rise? Ever wondered why bananas get brown? I’ve discussed a lot of these and similar phenomena on my blog. However, for those who want to dive just that little bit deeper, there hasn’t been a lot of space and time. That’s what I’m going to try and solve with this first course: Food Science Basics in 6 weeks, a basic food science course.

A quick heads-up for those who want to take away as much as they can from this course. All the course content can be found on my blog, one blog post per week diving into a new chapter. However, if you want to do the complete course, including quizzes to test your knowledge, go to my course page! No worries, it’s free as well and will be a great way for you to get started in food science!

peeled banana, starting browningSo do you want to know how to understand the chemical formulas that describe how your pancakes rise? Or do you really want to understand what an enzyme and protein are in that browning banana? You’re at the right place here! Don’t move, just read on.

For whom?

This course is for everyone who’s interested, such as:

  • High school students, looking for career options (hint: food science is great!).
  • Food bloggers, wanting to step up their understanding of food and their recipes.
  • Food professionals with no background in food science, looking for a basic introduction.
  • Chefs, who’d like to improve their understanding of their cooking.

Generally, it’s been made for those with a basic high school education, but without necessarily majoring in science. We’re trying to keep everything as basic as possible.

Not yet convinced? Why else would you participate?

I’m pretty much convinced that if you understand food science basics, it will make you a better cook. You will better understand what happens and you will probably be able to prevent mistakes you might have made otherwise.

Science might be boring to you, but if you like food, you might like science + food. Science is way more fun if you can see it in your everyday life. So give it a try, you might discover a whole new world!

Will it help your career? That’s a difficult question to answer. But, if you do not have any food science background, and do run into questions about food and ‘why does that happen?’ during your job. Then yes, it will help you along for sure, even if they are just little steps at a time!

The course

This ‘course’ is going to be a structured way of introducing you to food science in 6 weeks time (or if you’re reading this more than 6 weeks after the date this post was published, you can do it in whichever time span you want, it’s just 6 posts you’ll have to go through). Each post ends with a test that also contains some assignments to practice and use what you’ve learned. These tests are of course not obligatory, but it should be fun.

We’ll try to use our knowledge as soon as we can, showing you loads of examples.

No matter who you are or why you’re taking the course, I’d be interested in knowing who you are. So feel free to leave behind a comment introducing yourself.

Also, if you’re ever missing something during the course, leave a comment! I’d love to make this course help you more, so tips for improvement are always welcome.

Schedule

Week 1: This’ll only be an introduction to the course and to food science, still quite relaxing.

Week 2: Food chemistry basics, we’ll be diving into the world of atoms and molecules. We’ll be discussing the most important structural groups in food: fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Week 3: Food chemistry chemical reactions, after discussing the basics in week 2 we’ll be discussing the other core of chemistry: chemical reactions. We’ll be talking about transforming molecules into new ones.

Week 4: We’ll shift to another main food science topic: Food physics basics. Exploring the basic concepts of phases, water activity and dispersion.

Week 5: The last big topic is food microbiology, so of course, we’ll spend a whole week on that one as well. Diving into the world of bacteria, moulds and yeasts! Discussing both the good and the bad stuff.

Week 6: I love combining the topics mentioned above and a great way to do that is by discussing food packaging and  technology in which a lot of these topics come together. We’ll try to zoom in a little on food safety and engineering.

Let’s get going!

In order to learn and understand food science, you have to know what it is. So let’s start with the basics.

Read: Food Science & What is Food Science?.

Food is so complex, that there are a lot of things to study. Just think about broccoli:

  • Why is it green?
  • How come the colour changes during cooking and storage?
  • Why does broccoli taste like broccoli? Which molecules make up the taste?
  • How come broccoli becomes softer during cooking?
  • What happens when broccoli starts to rot?

These questions have to be split up, or it becomes too complex. As you’ve read, the split I use on this website is: food microbiology, food chemistry & food physics.

Read: The introduction of these three disciplines:

  1. food chemistry (if you want, have a look here as well!)
  2. food physics
  3. food microbiology.

By now you should see that food science can help you in your food journey! It will help you lay the foundation for all things considered food and help you to get a well reasoned view of why things happen as they happen when preparing/storing/buying/etc. food.

There might be one thing that you’re missing at this point: food nutrition. Food nutrition definitely is part of food science, however, even though food scientists should have a basic understanding of food nutrition it is definitely not the core (in my opinion). Currently I don’t have any food nutrition related content on my website and thus also not in this course.

Start applying!

This introduction is all very nice, but it only starts becoming interesting when you actually start seeing it around you!

That’s the last thing we’ll be doing today, look around you and try to find examples of food chemistry, physics and microbiology. It shouldn’t be hard, just take 5 minutes.

Once you’re finished, there remains one thing, do your homework. No worries, this homework is simply the quiz. You can  take the quiz when you sign up for the complete course itself!

Not quite got everything yet? Here’s a summary of what you’ve just read!

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