Equipment for NEA 1 Food Investigations

My list of essential equipment for investigations – things I have used for my experiments for NEA 1 Food Invesigations 10 Tasks.

Digital scales – you need accurate measurements for testing recipes

Digital scales

Food probe  – use to test setting temperatures of egg mixtures, sauce thickening temperatures and cooking temperature.

Nutrition Program! use to find the nutritional value of flours, sugars, beans, … to help you make choices for foods to investigate.

Digital camera – use your phone

Use phone to capture images

measuring cylinder

NEA 1 Food Investigations 10 Tasks
Star profile

Food Science You Can Eat – Powerpoint

Food Science PowerpointCreated for the Food Preparation and Nutrition GCSE 2016

The basics – means I’ve stripped things back to essential information – a quick way to learn!

What do you need to know? Food Science Equipment, Key words for food science

Caramel, Dextrin, Gelatinisation, Enzymic browning, Protein coagulation, Eggs and coagulation, Eggs and foams, Eggs and emulsions, Gluten, Raising agents, Raising agents – chemical, Raising agents – yeast, Raising agents – choux buns, Pastry – shortening and plasticity, Acid denature, Yogurt, Cooking food, Do you know? – a few questions, Useful websites

Available on Ridgwell Press website.




Word it out food scienceCaramel

Caramel is made by heating sugar until it turns brown. It is used as a flavouring or colouring for food and drink.


The science bit

Caramelisation is the process of cooking sugar until it turns brown.

If you cook the sugar too much it burns, blackens and breaks down to carbon.

Sugar used in cooking is called sucrose. When you heat sugar, water is removed and the sugar melts. As the sugar cooks it turns from sucrose to glucose and fructose.

Caramelisation starts at very high temperatures so you must not touch or taste until the food is cool.

Sugars in foods all caramelise.

Fructose is a sugar found in honey and fruits and it caramelises at low temperatures, so if you bake products such as cakes with honey, they cook to a darker colour.

Flour sugar is called maltose.


How is it used in food products?

Caramel is used in food and drink products to give a brown colour and creamy, sweet flavour and is labelled E150.

Caramel is the most widely used food colouring. It is made by heating sugar beet or sugar cane.

It is used in ice cream, biscuits, soya sauce, caramel sauce, gravy browning, cola, dessert mixes like Angel Delight.

Allergen alert – caramel can be made from wheat, barley and milk so people with allergies must check the ingredient list.


Make some caramel

You need

A non stick pan, 50 g white sugar, wooden spoon

Making caramel is dangerous as it reaches a very high heat.

Put the sugar in the dry pan and place in the heat.

Let the sugar dissolve and gradually turn dark brown. Swirl the pan – try not to use a spoon as a metal spoon will get very hot.

Do not taste or dip your fingers in it! If hot caramel contacts your skin, run under the cold tap.

To make a praline, can add nuts such as almonds and walnuts to the sugar then pour onto a greased baking sheet, spread and leave to cool for about 1 hour.

Break into pieces or bash with a rolling pin.

What can I cook?

Caramel is used to make sweet dishes such as creme caramel which is a creamy custard cooked on top of a layer of caramel.

Creme caramel

Makes 2


50 g sugar

2 tbs water


2 eggs

10 g caster sugar – 2 tsp

vanilla extract

200 ml whole milk


Heat the oven to 150C/Gas2. You need to ramekin dishes or oven proof tea cup  to cook the custard in.

Make the caramel by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan to dissolve the sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil without stirring until the sugar turns dark brown.

Pour the caramel into each of the ramekin dishes and leave to cool.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract with a whisk until smooth. Beat in the milk.

Stain into a measuring jug then pour into each of the ramekins.

Put the ramekins in a roasting tin which is half filled with boiling water.

Cook for 20-30 minutes in the oven until the custard is set.

Cool before serving. Chill in the fridge if possible.

To serve loosen the edges of the custard, cover with a plate and tip out the custard onto the plate with the caramel topping.


Oranges in caramel – serves 4

Slices of orange soaked in caramel sauce – delicious with Greek yogurt.


2 large oranges

100 g sugar

100 ml water


Prepare the oranges by cutting off the peel with a sharp knife.

Slice each orange into very thin rounds and put in a dish along with any of the juice.

To make the caramel, heat the sugar and water in a large saucepan and swirl around to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil without stirring and let the syrup become a dark gold colour.

Add the oranges to the pan and stir very quickly to absorb the caramel. If you take too long the caramel will stick to the pan. Tip the oranges onto a flat plate and leave to cool.

Take care not to touch or taste the caramel as it reaches a very high temperature!


Did you know

The lady owner of a grocery shop in Seaford, Sussex made up jars of caramel syrup by heating sugar until golden brown and then adding water. She sold it to customers to use in gravies and puddings.


To do

Use the internet to find 10 products which have caramel as one of their ingredients. In each case explain why it is used.

Why do I need to know the science of caramelisation?

Cooking cakes – what do the ingredients do?

Cooking cakes – ingredients matter


What happens if I leave things out?

In this experiment you make a batch of small sponge cakes.

Each time you leave one ingredient out and see what happens.

Why do I need to do that?

If you leave an ingredient out, the look and the taste of the cake changes.

This picture shows sponge cake with no egg, no fat, no baking powder

Cakes with ingredients missing

What to do

Make 4-5 batches of sponge cakes – each batch has an ingredient missing.


Sponge cake basic recipe – makes 6 cakes

60 g margarine

60 g caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

60 g plain flour

1 level teaspoon baking powder


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Beat the margarine and sugar together until creamy.

Beat in the egg and stir in the sieved flour and baking powder until smooth.

Spoon equal amounts into 6 baking cases and bake for 20 -25 minutes until firm and golden.

Cool on a wire rack.


Leave out the egg

Follow the basic recipe but replace the egg with 60 ml (60g) water.

Share into 6 baking cases and bake in the same way.

cake no egg

Leave out the fat – margarine

Mix together the sugar, flour, baking powder and egg to a batter.

Spoon into 6 baking cases and bake in the same way.

cake no fat

Leave out the baking powder

Make the same as the basic recipe but don’t add the baking powder.

Share into 6 baking cases and bake in the same way.


Leave out the sugar

Mix the margarine, flour and baking powder together.

Share into 6 baking cases and bake in the same way.


Use the chart to compare results


Cake Flavour Texture
Basic recipe Buttery, sweet, delicious Spongy with air bubbles and well risen
No egg Sweet and buttery but difficult to eat Dough collapses in middle and is stringy
No fat Dry and sweet but not delicious Spongy and light, but tough
No baking powder Sweet and firm, buttery Firm and rather hard
No sugar No sweetness or butteriness Hard and chewy


So what does each ingredient do?
Work it out from the change in flavour and texture of the cakes.


Ingredient in cake What does it do?
Margarine – fat
Baking powder

Of course I didn’t try and cook a cake without flour!

Books to teach Food Science 2016

Here are some useful books I’m using for my research to develop my new book Food Science you can Eat

Food Science you can Eat









Culinary Reactions by Simon Quellen Field 5* sensibly written

Culinary Reactions

Experiment with Food Neena Chowdhary 3* not enough detail to cover everthing

The Food Book by Jenny Ridgwell – me – bits and bobs of food science

the food book

Examinging food and Nutrition – Jenny Ridgwell – you can buy it for 1p on Amazon!

examiningIncludes stuff on gelatinisation P 92, making gluten balls, p93 emulsifiers p112, raising agents 114 with investigations for chemical ones and yeast

findingFinding out about Food – Jenny Ridgwell – lots of the first science I taught in the 1970s!

Freaky Food Experiments – Nick Arnold 4* – useful experiments but difficult for me as adult to read as comic style

Freaky Food Experiments

Basic Science for Food Studies Brownsell, Griffith and Jones  4* serious book rather too complex

Fizz in the Kitchen Susan Martineau – for very young children 2*

FIzz in the Kitchen

Do Try this at Home – Science Museum  4* good recipes to use – designed for younger kids

Do Try this at home

Kitchen Chemistry Ted Lister – linked with Heston Blumenthal  and fun

kitchen chemistry

Cooking for Geeks – Jeff Potter – would like to try this but not yet!

Amazing Kitchen Chemistry Projects – 3* American and written in a very excited way – too much for me!

amazing kitchen
Experiments in Home Economics Blackwell
The How and Why of Cookery Haselgrove and Scallon
Experimental work in Food Science Salfield
Science Experiments you can eat Vikki Cobb

science expts you can eat
Finding out about Food Jenny Ridgwell – lots of simple science experiments
Food Science, Nutrition and Health Fox and Cameron
Examining Food and Nutrition Jenny Ridgwell

Cooking questions to puzzle over – Why do we bake things at different temperatures? Learn about the important reactions in cooking, such as protein denaturation, Maillard reactions, and caramelization, and how they impact the foods we cook


Harold McGee

Equipment you might need

Food Probe which monitors high and low temperatures – this is the one I use Thermapen

thermapen thermometersBlow torch to show caramelisation and dextrinisation. Over 18 only can use this as it is dangerous.