Food Science

Learn about the science behind your favorite foods at HowStuffWorks.

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It's not cream. And it's not creamy. But it is handy and inexpensive, and it'll give your food 'oomph.'

By Jennifer Walker-Journey

Is that pepper too hot to handle? See where it falls on the Scoville scale.

By John Donovan

Honey has been used as medicine for millennia and, in this century, the old remedies seem to be holding up to science.

By Jesslyn Shields


The Maillard reaction is the scientific process that makes your steak (and other foods) taste and smell delicious. So, how does that work? We'll explain.

By Jeremy Glass

Carmine, a natural red dye also known as cochineal extract, is indeed made from the crushed bodies of the cochineal bug. And it provides the color for many of the foods we eat.

By Katie Carman

Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents, but they work differently in batters and doughs. So, in a pinch, can you substitute one for the other?

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

We know wine collectors age their wine. But what about beer? There's a movement of beer enthusiasts dabbling in aging beer, too. Do the same rules apply?

By Stephanie Vermillion


String cheese is a super popular snack with kids and adults. And it's stringiness can be a bit baffling, too.

By Meg Sparwath

Sassafras has a long history of culinary, medicinal and aromatic use, but safrole, a toxic compound found in its essential oils, has been banned by the FDA because of its potential carcinogenic properties.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Citric acid is added to everything from food to medicines to cleaning supplies. Although it occurs naturally, it's mostly manufactured from black mold. But does that mean we need to be worried?

By Alia Hoyt

Ice cream made with insect milk? A start-up in South Africa hopes you'll say, "Yes please!"

By Nathan Chandler


Grocery store tomatoes are all but flavorless anymore. A group of scientists is out to bring the ripe, red taste of summer back.

By Shaun Chavis

Female chickens lay eggs whether they've mated with a rooster or not.

By Jesslyn Shields

Craving some sugary sweet cotton candy? Then reach for these grapes instead. You'll be shocked at how much they taste just like the spun stuff.

By Shaun Chavis


Nothing goes better with a cup of coffee than a sweet cupcake. But do you crave the two together or does that cup of joe actually make you hungry?

By Shaun Chavis

People are passionate about coffee, and every connoisseur has an opinion about what to do when hot coffee goes cold. Reheating coffee's complicated.

By Jesslyn Shields

You may love the burn of food that's triple Thai hot, but do your poor taste buds?

By John Donovan

Yes, folks, tea has now joined the dubious list of products available in a spray can. Who's clamoring for this?

By Melanie Radzicki McManus


Scientists have discovered a delicious way to use ultrasound to determine the best chocolate.

By Dave Roos

Were dozens of restaurant owners in China wasting time trying to get diners to ride General Tso's white horse ? What would really happen if you ate opium-laced food?

By Chris Opfer

Flavorists are enlisted by food manufacturers to concoct new and improved flavors for food. But how natural is the process?

By Sarah Dowdey