Food science brings us lunch that lasts forever
By Bert Raynes, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
January 9, 2013
One can speculate that a Homo species found that meat and other foodstuffs that were cooked or roasted smelled and tasted better than raw. Keeps better, too.
One can speculate that this finding was accidental: Some individual of a primate species unknowingly involved in a race to become the sole Homo species to populate the planet stumbled upon a roasted animal caught in a wildfire, and it smelled sooo good. Tasted good, too.
One can also speculate about how better nutrition helped the kids in third grade to do better and, ultimately, become Homo sapiens and outcompete Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals.
And so, I shall speculate.
Meat being grilled and after smells good. Bread being baked and after smells good. Coffee being roasted has an appealing odor. A French chemist — but of course — just 100 years ago described the sequence of chemical reactions responsible for those dubious odors. His name, Louis Camille Maillard, is attached to the complicated chemistry involved in “the most widely practiced chemical reaction in the world”; it’s practiced every day by millions upon millions of people.
World War II got the military interested in industrial-scale foods that are palatable and have a long shelf life: MREs. Meals, Ready to Eat. (Disclosure: Never eaten one.)
Here’s an item the military has come up with. It’s an offshoot of the means of producing the kids’ candy, the Fruit Roll-up. The process involves dehydration of meat, poultry and even seafood via osmosis. Water is removed from meat by osmosis when meat is immersed in a brine of 80 percent maltodextrin, a glucose-based sweetener widely used in baked goods and sweet drinks.
Ground meat is molded into thin sheets that are conveyed through the maltodextrin solution. The meat continues as a thin roll-up that is semidry, stable for years and completely raw.
The meat is bland, but since it starts with ground meat, species can be added. Vitamins or minerals can be incorporated (Chemical and Engineering News).
Osmotic meats can be treated as a lunch meat or jerky, barbecued or eaten raw. Just cut or tear off suitable hunks of osmomeat and go for it. Bon appetit.
Field Notes: Here’s the list of bird species censused on Dec. 16 on the Jackson Hole Christmas Bird Count. Fifty-three species on a day with limited visibility and on which birds tend to seek cover.
Congratulations and thanks to all participants, especially Susan Marsh and her merry band of helpers.
Special aspects: Mild weather up to bird count day but up north cold weather had rough-legged hawks coming in larger-than-usual numbers. Also rosy finches and both species of crossbill, though none picked up on count day. Mourning dove seen for first time on count; it had been hanging around all fall, probably being fed.
Reen Mackay enjoyed her first saw-whet owl sighting. The little bird appeared near her feeder and stayed for a good ID. A pygmy owl also was seen last week. Are there more or fewer voles about, luring the owls into daytime hunting?
Winter wings being reported: pine siskins (Mary Lohuis), rosy finches (Hunter Marrow, Tracy Blue, Sandy Ress, Susan Foster, Bruce Hayse), common redpolls, rough-legged hawks, American goldfinches, chickadees, northern shrikes and others.
The Jackson Hole Bird and Nature Club will meet in Jackson Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. Sunday for nature observations, socializing and John Good talking on Charles Darwin as a young man and his “Voyage of the Beagle.”
© Bert Raynes 2013
Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.