Saving the nougat from one year to the next, why you have to prepare the fugu with care and what exactly is the seitan. The 19th office of Maldita Alimentación arrives

‘Welcome to’ 2023, damn and damn! And ‘welcome’ also to the first doctor’s office of the year of Damn Food. Yes, like a good Three Kings Day that we celebrate today, we caught you with a mouth full of roscónSwallow calmly, we’ll be waiting for you before we get to work: to close Christmas, we’re still talking about nougat, but also about dangerous fish, vegetarian products (it’s time for seitan) and a taste for ginger.

Before proceeding, remember that you can send us any question that comes to mind (as long as it has to do with Science) by Twitter, Facebookemail ([email protected]) or through the our WhatsApp chatbot (Save the number! +34 644 22 93 19). Now yes, from appetizers to coffee!

Can the leftover nougat be reused next Christmas?

The situation may arise that you have gone too far with the nougat this Christmas and you have left over. Is it safe to store and reuse it the following year? Like any food product, which shows a date from which, either the food is not safe or does not guarantee to maintain its organoleptic characteristics (smell, taste, texture…), nougat is not far behind.

In we already explained that the difference between expiration date and best before date it is in what happens in the food once the day marked on its packaging has passed.

While, if the expiration date has passed, the food can develop pathogenic microorganisms and, therefore, its consumption is dangerous; if the best-before date does, it cannot be ensured that the food maintains its organoleptic properties (as we said, its flavor, texture, smell or color). That is, in the latter case, the food loses quality but remains safe and can be consumed without risk.

In the case of nougat, the marked date is precisely of this type. The reason is that it is not a perishable product, as it is, for example, fresh meat and fish.

“It is true that the nougats they can last a long time because, due to their composition (high in fat), they have a water activity (amount of water that is available for microorganisms to develop their metabolic activities) very low. The less water activity, the more difficult it is for them to multiply”, he explains to Beatriz Robles, dietitian-nutritionist, food technologist and cursed who has lent us her superpowers.

However, adds the expert, there are two problems that we could expose ourselves to if we eat nougat tablets from one year to the next. First of all, the fungus: “Mushrooms grow well at low water activities. That is why they appear in foods such as nuts, cereals or sliced ​​bread, where it is difficult for bacteria to grow,” says Robles. And with the mushrooms, the mycotoxinstoxic compounds produced naturally by some types of molds that can pose a problem to our health.

But the mushrooms are not the only reason why we will not feel like that same piece of nougat in the following Christmas. In addition, “there may be a rancidity of fats, which totally reduces the quality of the nougat”, concludes Robles, given that its taste can even become unpleasant.

What is seitan? Is it a healthy food?

It is increasingly common for us to come across those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet (or strict vegetarians). We may even have joined this eating model ourselves. In this context, it is common for We are getting more and more questions about plant-based alternatives to animal-based proteins. We have already told you about, among other options, the tofu and of the textured soybeans. Once the elaboration of both was clarified, you have asked us about the seitan: this, in essence, is the wheat flour gluten, which is separated from the bran and starch. Namely, the protein ‘naked’ of this cereal.

The process of making seitan begins with a dough made from wheat flour and water. At this point, the starch is rinsed with more and more water, in order to get pure gluten protein, by removing the starch. The result will be “a very rigid and elastic dough”, as described in The Conversation Kerith Duncanson, a researcher at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle (Australia).

If our idea is to elaborate it and cook it at home, explains the expert, the task will take us approximately one hour. “If you are in a hurry, you can cheat by mixing vital wheat gluten, commercially available, with water”, he recommends. Once the dough is ready, Duncanson proposes seasoning it with spices or sauce and subsequently, cook it (frying or boiling it, for example). “It can be served as a substitute for a steak, sliced ​​and sautéed; ‘a tiras’ (pulled), like pork, or shredded and turned into a vegan schnitzel”.

Regarding its nutritional role, “seitan is rich in protein and non-heme iron (iron from plant sources that is more difficult to absorb) compared to other vegetarian protein foods,” says Duncanson, who adds that a serving of 100 grams of seitan (about the size of the palm of the hand), contains about 75 grams of protein. “That’s about three times as much as beef or lamb. (about 23 grams)”.

“Obviously the people with problems with gluten (celiac disease or intolerances) they shouldn’t eat seitan”, underlines in El Comidista the dietitian-nutritionist Raquel Bernácer. In addition, she adds that, from a nutritional point of view, the protein quality of gluten is somewhat inferior to soy protein (tofu) or chickpea, for example.

As ‘modern’ as this whole story may seem to you, the truth is that there are Asian countries that have been using wheat gluten as a meat substitute for centuries. Especially among Buddhists who prefer not to eat this food. In fact, the term is not new. but it was proposed back in 1960.

What is fugu and why should you pay attention to its preparation?

Someone you haven’t seen The Simpson He has asked us what is fugu. Perhaps you have heard about how delicate it is to prepare this delicacy, which can end in death from poisoning. Its about Blowfishknown in Japanese as fugu (フグ). His gonads, liver, skins and intestine contain a potent neurotoxin: tetradotoxin.

The species of the family of tetraodontids or puffer fish, includes 130 species that potentially carry tetrodotoxin (or TTX), the majority in tropical waters. But it is also present, with this poison in its body, in the western Mediterranean, as is the case with the species Lagocephalus sceleratus.

consumption of 0.2 milligrams produces severe symptoms. 2 milligrams of TTX can be deadly, although a review of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found no evidence for this figure mentioned in the scientific literature. The substance blocks the sodium channels in our cells, immobilizing our muscles and potentially causing death. In mice the lethal dose It is 232 micrograms (µg,millionth of a gram) per body kilogram.

In Japan since 1958 its preparation has been regulated, which can only be done chefs with specific trainingalthough in 2012 in Tokyo the requirements were relaxed. Despite these requirements, still occur poisoning by fugu in Japan. Since 2004, in the European Union, it is not legally possible to sell poisonous fish from the tetraodontid family or from Diodontidae or porcupine fish [pág. 116]. Other marine species such as newts, crabs, seafood and some octopuses may have this toxin or similar substances since it is produced by bacteria that normally live in the intestine of the animal.

In 2007 there was a TTX poisoning from the consumption of a shell charonia lampas in a Malaga market. The patient required mechanical ventilation and intubation due to paralysis, including respiratory muscle paralysis, shortly after eating the cooked shellfish after experiencing numbness in various parts of the body, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. In total, he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for three days and required 52 hours of mechanical ventilation.

Does genetics have anything to do with whether you like ginger or not?

Do you like coriander? Do you think it gives a good flavor to food? Or on the contrary, does it taste like soap? In 2020 we explain that the love or hate of this herb depends on a mutation in our human genetic code and that this mutation is ‘distributed’ unevenly in different regions of the world. However,something similar happens in the case of ginger, a plant used a lot in Asian cuisine? Does genetics have a say in whether or not we like the taste of it? It is similar, but not as distinctive as coriander.

Fresh ginger has a somewhat spicy flavor —pungent, the word is pungent. This property and this feeling is given by the gingerola component present in this plant and that is a chemical relative of capsaicin, which in turn is what gives the itch to the Padrón pepperschillies and chilies.

As detailed in this scientific review published in 2020 about genetic differences in taste receptors and in this popular article of the Science Meets Food portal on the same topic, there are three gene receptors that govern the sensation of pungency in general. The one that specifically affects gingerol is the TRPA1 genewhich is also activated by the presence of mustard (the compound is allyl isothiocyanate), fresh garlic (allicin), and gingerol.

Knowing that there is a specific gene involved in the itching sensation of ginger (and therefore, its tolerance), does this mean that it will depend on genetics whether you like this herb or not? This is where you come in ground unexplored by sciencesince as the 2020 scientific review indicates, there are only a genetic investigation who has explored how different people taste spiciness and how this affects one of the gene receptors involved. However, other gene receptors were investigated (TRPV1 and TAS2R, involved in capsaicin and sour taste, respectively) that are not specifically activated by ginger.

In short, we know that ginger is capable of activating a genetic receptor involved in the itching sensation that it provides, but there are still no studies that have explored whether this really occurs or whether the different tolerance to ginger has to do with this gene. Maybe we are dropping here an idea for an investigation. If so, it would not hurt to mention us in the thanks of the possible paper.

We’re not done yet…

Before saying goodbye, we remind you once again: we are not doctors, we are journalists. You can count on us for everything in our power, of course! But if what you need is a specific diagnosis and/or you have specific medical questions, the best option will be to go to a health professional who will study the case and recommend the most appropriate solution or treatment. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend!

In this article, Beatriz Robles, dietitian-nutritionist and food technologist, has collaborated with her superpowers.

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Saving the nougat from one year to the next, why you have to prepare the fugu with care and what exactly is the seitan. The 19th office of Maldita Alimentación arrives – Periodismo so you don’t get caught