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Scientists 3D Printed Cheese 

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These days, you can 3D print anything from a house to your breakfast. And as 3D-printed pizza becomes a thing, food scientists are examining what exactly happens when you print yourself some cheese.

A recent study in the Journal of Food Engineering explores how 3D printing affects the structure of processed cheese. How gross would 3D-printed Velveeta nachos be? A bevy of researchers from University College Cork in Ireland decided to find out.

They melted a commercially available processed cheese (think American cheese, not cheddar) and put it through a modified 3D printer that printed the cheese out at either a fast or a slow speed. The cheese was printed out into cylinders that were then cooled for 30 minutes and put in the refrigerator for a day. After that 24-hour refrigeration period, the researchers took the cheese out of the fridge to check its texture and chemical structure.

They found that both the slow-printing and the fast-printing processes made the refrigerated cheese softer and darker in color compared to both untreated cheese and melted cheese. The printed cheeses were much easier to re-melt, likely because the network of proteins inside of them had been weakened. They were less sticky, probably because the oils inside them rose to the surface of the cheese during the printing process.

You can see the chemical structure of the cheese change in the image below. The red blobs are fats; the green shapes are proteins.

Clockwise from left: untreated cheese, melted cheese, high-speed printed cheese, low-speed printed cheese. Image Credit: Le Tohic et. al, Journal of Food Engineering (2017)

 
The printing speed didn’t affect the cheese very much, but it did change the color slightly. The slower printing process resulted in a more yellow shade than untreated cheese, while the faster process resulted in a cheese color that was a little more blue.

In short, 3D printing will significantly alter your cheese. Using what’s essentially a Cheez Whiz robot wouldn’t necessarily make your cheese worse, though. The researchers didn’t taste test their printed material, so we can’t know which cheese was the most delicious. But more melty cheese could be pretty useful for that 3D-printed pizza.

Please enjoy this video of the 3D printer making a bear out of whipped mascarpone.

[h/t Francie Diep]

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Why Adding Water to Your Whiskey Makes It Taste Better
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Don’t ever let people tease you for watering down your whiskey. If they’re true aficionados, they’ll know that adding a splash of water or a few cubes of ice to your drink will actually enhance its natural flavors. But how can something as flavorless as water make a barrel-aged scotch or bourbon taste even better? Chemists think they’ve found the answer.

As The Verge reports, researchers from the Linnæus University Centre for Biomaterials Chemistry in Sweden analyzed the molecular composition of whiskey in the presence of water. We already know that the molecule guaiacol is largely responsible for whiskey’s smoky taste and aroma. Guaiacol bonds to alcohol molecules, which means that in straight whiskey that guaiacol flavor will be fairly evenly distributed throughout the cask. Alcohol is repelled by water, and guaiacol partially so. That means when a splash of water is added to the beverage the alcohol gets pushed to the surface, dragging the guaiacol along with it. Concentrated at the top of the glass, the whiskey’s distinctive taste and scent is in the perfect position to be noticed by the drinker.

According to the team’s experiments, which they laid out in the journal Scientific Reports [PDF], whiskey that’s been diluted down to 40 percent to 45 percent alcohol content will start to show more guaiacol sloshing near the surface. Most commercial whiskey is already diluted before it's bottled, so the drink you order in a bar should fall within this range to begin with. Adding additional water or ice will boost the flavor-enhancing effect even further.

As for just how much water to add, the paper doesn’t specify. Whiskey lovers will just have to conduct some experiments of their own to see which ratios suit their palate.

[h/t NPR]

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The Chemistry Behind the World’s Worst-Smelling Fruit
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Durian is hailed by many in southeast Asia as “The King of Fruits.” It’s also been banned in many public spaces in the region for having a pungent odor that’s reminiscent of “the flesh of some animal in a state of putrefaction,” as one French naturalist put it. So what is it about that delicacy that elicits such strong responses?

According to the PBS web series Reactions, the answer lies in durian’s chemistry. Sulfur is present in some of the key molecules that give the fruit its distinct scent. This chemical element is often described as having a rotten egg smell, and can be found in poisonous gas, rancid meat, and other places we’ve evolved to avoid.

Despite smelling like something that’s long-dead, durian still attracts passionate fans with its fruity taste and custardy texture. If you’ve never had durian before, check out the full video from Reactions below and decide whether or not it’s worth a taste.

[h/t Reactions]

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