As I prepare for some continuing education courses, I’ve found that there is a lot of information learned just from preparing food. This isn’t exactly news; I used common kitchen ingredients for experiments when the kids were little…but it does go deeper.
Roasting Chicken: Most chicken packagers put the neck, heart, kidneys and liver back into the bird before packaging. The latter four are often referred to as “giblets.” This can give an opportunity to discuss what the organs do in the human body. If your family is agreeable, I’m told they are edible. None of us find them so…including our cat.
Eggs and Vinegar: This experiment doesn’t yield something edible, but it is interesting and it could encourage proper oral hygiene. Place a whole (shell and all) egg into a bottle or jar. Fill to an inch above the egg with distilled white vinegar. Make notes daily on how the egg is doing. At the end of two weeks, chances are good there isn’t a shell anymore. The acid eats the egg shell just as sugar and acids eat tooth enamel.
Beef Broth: Bones for making broth can come from several parts of the animal. The two most interesting scientifically are marrow bones and ox tails. Before the bones are browned, examine them carefully. You can see the marrow but it isn’t very soft. Take a good look at the bones also. In the ox tails, note that the bones are actually vertebrae.
In broth making, I brown the bones at 400 degrees for up to an hour (depending on what type of bone I’m using.) When they come out, any marrow is cooked and much softer. It’s also pulled away from the inside of the bone. The bones have changed texture and color as well.
Chicken “Tenders:” I think the name “tenders” was given because of the tendon running through it. It certainly isn’t because they are a tender part of the bird. Unless you remove the tendon running the length of the segment they are tough. However, that tendon is what makes it interesting in the scientific sense.
Like the insides of a chicken it can give you the opportunity to explain about tendons. They are an important part of how our body functions; without them it would be very difficult to move properly. They connect our muscles to our bones.
There are many other experiments that can be done in the kitchen. Using yeast to make bread rise, using cornstarch to thicken liquid…the only thing that can hold us back would be our imaginations. The next time the kids need a science experiment, have fun with it…cook up some science.