bunsen_h: (Popperi)
Last night, I came home from work excessively drained, and looked on the pantry shelves for something easy to cook for dinner.  There were a few packages of KD, which I didn't remember having bought, but I decided that that would do nicely.  Comfort food.  I'd probably picked them up at some point when the grocery store was selling them at a ridiculously low price; it has happened from time to time.  For a few weeks last year, the equivalent Italpasta product was being sold at 16 or 19 cents a box.

And everything was fine until I opened up the packet of cheez sauce powder.  It was a kind of medium brown colour, instead of the expected bright orange; about the colour of an old apple core.  Okay, I thought, this might be because Kraft has switched to using natural food-colouring agents.  It'll probably brighten up when it's mixed into the pasta.

Except it didn't.  The "finished" potful of pasta was still brown.  It tasted a bit weird too.

Then I remembered where I'd acquired the package: Dad's pantry, when we were clearing out foodstuffs that he didn't need to take to the assisted-living place.  It might have been there... a while.

So I checked the best-before date on the box.  "98 AL 15".  Given the expected shelf life of KD, the package was probably more than 20 years old.

Now we know.  That fluorescent-orange cheezy substance does expire eventually, even in dry form, even inside its foil pouch inside the cardboard box, presumably stored under reasonably good temperature conditions.
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
Experiment: large-flake oats cooked by steam alone in a pressure cooker for about 25 minutes + cool-down time.

Result: the oats were dry, slightly darker than before, not much moisture seemed to have been absorbed.  When the oats were subsequently cooked with water as usual, they absorbed less water than usual and "fluffed up" noticeably.  Apparently the structure of the flakes was "loosened" by the steam, and/or more moisture had been absorbed than was apparent. This is more or less what the "modified" means in phrases such as "modified starch".

Conclusion: this does not appear to be a very useful way of cooking rolled oats.

Oh well, not all experiments are "successful", and my curiosity has been relieved.
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
But on drying, gerbil pee leaves a tough white residue, poorly soluble in water and difficult to remove from a plastic surface without damage to the plastic.  However, it is readily soluble in concentrated hydrochloric acid, with evolution of gas.  I suspect it's giving off CO2, but I don't have the resources to try to confirm.  It would probably also dissolve in something like vinegar, but much more slowly.

I miss working in a chemistry lab for many reasons, and one of them is ready access to small amounts of harmless chemicals for personal use.  But some reagents are available from craft and hardware stores, if you know what to look for.  Hydrochloric acid is also known as muriatic acid, and the version sold in hardware stores is pretty close to the concentrated HCl we used in labs.

August 2017

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