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Posts by Harold McGee

Very interesting! There is an off-flavor in many fermented products that’s commonly called “Band-aid” or “doctor’s office,” and I wonder whether that’s what you’re smelling. You may be exceptionally sensitive to that group of compounds. Have you tried things like gruyère or comté, or tete de moine, which are mainly ripened by bacteria rather than molds? How about parmesan? There may be a bunch of cheeses that will work fine for you. Harold
I’d concur with Phil again. Washing is what makes the big difference. Harold
Yes, exactly—the solids are scattered over a larger volume, so they’re not as evident to the eye. Harold
The muscle and bone of a healthy animal is essentially sterile: there are no or few bacteria deep in the meat to cause spoilage. All the bacteria are at or near the meat surface, which is where the salt concentration is the highest. The salt doesn’t take a year to penetrate to the bone; that extended aging is to allow the meat enzymes to do in months what they do in weeks of dry aging. All this being said, dry-cured hams sometimes do go bad at the bone, which is why...
Thanks, I’m enjoying this too. Most microbes specialize in particular environments so that they can outgrow their competitors. And animal organs and sourdoughs (or yogurts, or sausages) are very different environments, not just in their pH, but in nutrient levels, water levels, oxygen, and so on. Fortunately! Harold
Yes, a coffee filter works fine too. --Harold
I haven’t been able to track down the origins of the cork as a supposed tenderizing agent, but I have done the experiment several times. The cork rides at the top of the pot, with maybe a couple of square millimeters in contact with the liquid, and in my experience makes no difference whatsoever—even when I covered the liquid surface with corks. Harold
Yes, if you’re removing nearly all the water, then you’re removing nearly all the alcohol too. But you’d also be removing much of the aromatic content of the liquid. The non-volatile, non-aromatic materials would stay—sugars, acids, salts, savory amino acids, tannins if any. But most of the aromatics would be perfuming the kitchen air. Harold
Hold a muffin-off! Side by side comparisons are the best way to see what a difference changes in technique can make—or don’t, sometimes. In this case, I think your muffins will be more tender and rise higher—less gluten development and loss of leavening gases. Harold
Because alcohol has a chemical affinity for water, you can never cook all of it out of a dish unless you desiccate it. How much you do cook out depends on the cooking process and its duration. Flaming removes as little as 25%, while long-simmered stews can lose 90-95%. Harold
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