The Innovation of Carbonated Water

One thing I take for granted is carbonation. I love my pop, so much so that at times I would call it a minor addiction. When I was looking into innovative ideas, I realized that I should not just assume that carbonation has been around forever, or is even natural. I do know that CO2 does occur during fermentation, but I was interested in finding out more about how carbonated water came about, since it is something I rely so heavily on.

 

 

Source. Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley. Source

History

Soda water takes its inspiration from natural mineral water originating from volcanic springs, which was seen to have medicinal powers, as bathing in its waters was seen as a restorative (Source 1, Source 2).  The bubbles found in this water were soon linked to carbon dioxide, coming from the minerals found in it. While drinkable, this water was not readily available to the public, because most people did not live near volcanos, or they did not have the means to have bottles shipped to their homes. It wasn’t until 1767 that manmade carbonated water was produced by Joseph Priestly, who was a chemist in England, and who ended up writing a paper titled Impregnating Water with Fixed Air (Source)[1]. While soft drinks had been around since the 1600s, there were still drinks, such as lemonade, nothing resembling the waters found in the mineral springs (Source).

Johann Jacob Schweppe Source

Johann Jacob Schweppe
Source

After Priestley’s discovery, others followed suit, including Johann Jacob Schweppe, who took Priestley’s process and simplified it by figuring out that carbonation can be produced through baking soda and an acid. Schweppe went even further than this, and established his own company, Schweppes, which is still around today and one of the top producers of carbonated water in the world (Source). Despite this unnatural creation of carbonated water, the drink stayed true to its roots and was marketed as a medicinal remedy, although it lacked all healing properties of its predecessor, it at least managed to keep its drinker hydrated.

This discovery was an innovative process because it took something from nature and was able to create an unnatural, but more accessible version. While lacking the original health benefits, Priestley was able to give everyone access to a sought after product. Plus, the many uses and variations of carbonated water over the years keep it relevant, and this process is behind some of the most popular drinks on the market today.

Source. Priestley's original drawing on how to add carbonation to water

Source
Priestley’s original drawing on how to add carbonation to water

How it’s done

The first carbonated water did indeed get its carbonation through fermentation process, but not because yeast or sugar was adding to the liquid. Instead, Priestly hung a container of water over a fermentation vat, and was able to infuse the water with bubbles, creating soda water. In his paper Impregnating Water with Fixed Air, Priestly describes another way of adding CO2 to water by pouring sulfuric acid onto chalk, which produces carbon dioxide, and then this gas is added to water.

 

 

 

Importance and Effect

A huge chunk of the food industry centers on carbonated water. While it does seem like a lowly drink (because who really wants to drink plain Club Soda?), it is the base of many of the top drinks in the world today. As well, even though it may not have the same healing properties as natural volcanic spring waters, drinking plain soda water is often seen as medicine, as it can often ease the pain of the flu, heartburn and stomach aches.

As already stated, I love drinking pop, but I’ve realized that one of my favourite things about this type of drink is the bubbles and fizz, which are all down to Joseph Priestley’s experimentation. While this innovation may not be as helpful as the modern oven, forks or canning, it is something that has remained relevant in our world today, and it is something that is now taken for granted. An entire type of drink links back to Priestly, from the mass produced Coca-Cola drinks, to the new Soda Stream Machines, and hipster variations of soda pop. Priestly may never have commercially produced his product, but his innovation has led to one of the main money making products today.

 

[1] Joseph Priestly was much more than the person who discovered how to create soda water. He also was a clergyman, whose English home was burned after he was found to be in support of the French Revolution. He moved to the United States and became friends with Benjamin Franklin, likely because both were looking into this thing called electricity. He also helped discover oxygen! He was the first one to successfully prove that combustion needed oxygen to happen, and, along with Carl Scheele, was able to isolate oxygen as a molecule. He also was the first to identify hydrochloric acid, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. Finally, because apparently this man had not done enough, he also created the eraser, after realizing that Indian gum was able to wipe off marks from a pencil. So, suffice to say, Joseph Priestly did many more great things for our world than discover the process of carbonating water! (Source)

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Trying Out That Gluten-Free Life

In this study of diet and dietary restrictions, I had a hard time choosing which diet I wanted to try out. I didn’t want to do a super restrictive diet, such as Paleo, because I often forget exactly what I am and am not supposed to eat. I thought of doing vegetarian or vegan, but, well, whenever I’ve tried that in the past, I tend to mess up right away and eat meat because I always forget that I’m not supposed to until after the meal. To succeed in this endeavour, I needed something simple, but still tough.

I landed on a gluten-free diet. This is the newest of the fad diets, with people eschewing the devil that is gluten for “healthier” carbs. I must admit, I tend to mock people who are gluten-free without any medical reason to, and my joke is that my favourite bread is gluten. So, I knew that while forgoing gluten is fairly simple (and easier to remember!), it would be tough for me. Running over what I typically eat, I can already see a few things that I will have to give up until next week. Like my favourite meal at work – a delicious goat cheese puck, unfortunately covered with panko, a.k.a. the pariah that is gluten.

Day 0.5: So, today was kind of the first day of this gluten-free diet. Kind of, in that I started it at dinner.  Please note that I ate 2 dinners tonight because I had something on at around dinner time, and didn’t want to be hungry, so I had two smaller meals.

Dinner 1: Oatmeal yogurt pancakes (Oats were used instead of AP Flour)

Dinner 2: A selection of fish from my culinary lab + an apple

Snack: Chocolate Covered Blueberries + Banana

 

 

Day 1: Today made me realize why following a gluten-free diet would cause someone to lose weight. Why? Because all the delicious things in the world contain gluten! There were 5 times at work today when I was about to eat something delicious (and sinful), only to realize that it contained gluten. Twice, I already had it in my mouth before I remembered and I had to spit it out. That made me sad. Of course, there are a lot of things that are gluten-free that are also decadent (flourless chocolate cake, I’m looking at you!), but for the most part, the typical cakes and treats are off-limits to those following a gluten-free diet.

Breakfast: Chocolate Banana Oatmeal + Coffee

Snack: Apple + Caramel

Lunch: Goat Cheese and Beet Salad

Snack: Roasted Mushroom Salad

Dinner: Beef Rib + some fries

Snack: Banana + Peanut Butter + Chocolate Covered Blueberries

 

Day 2: I actually had to scrape the filling out of a sandwich today. I felt like some weird person who had some sort of anti-gluten compulsion. But, I did cheat a little bit today – I was making cookies for a party and had to taste test them, all in the name of research! I’m realizing how more thought I have to put into every meal, now that I can’t go with the default gluten option.

Breakfast: Chocolate Oats + Coffee (This is my usual breakfast, not anything to do with the challenge)

Lunch: The filling of a smoked salmon sandwich + Mackerel Escabeche

Snack: Tarro Chips + Ostrich Meat + Beet Chips + Apple

Dinner: Blue Cheese Salmon Risotto (Recipe to follow)

Snack: Baked Banana + Chocolate Blueberries

It was much more delicious that it looks!

It was much more delicious that it looks!

Day 3: So today was my cheat day. I always knew it was going to be, because I had this day marked off for a potluck for a few months, and I had already planned on bring noodles. But, other than for dinner (and the odd cookie research), I stayed away from gluten! It wasn’t too hard, considering that my breakfast is always gluten-free, and I was just able to snack around for lunch.

Breakfast: Same Old Oats

Lunch: A variety of things, none of which gad gluten

Dinner: A lot of meat, some noodles, too many things to list

Snack: Cake…

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Day 4: Oops, I did it again. I ate gluten, without knowing it.

Yes, that is correct. Today at dinner, I had already eaten half my piece of garlic bread before realizing that I was eating the forbidden gluten. So, I slipped up once again. And again earlier in the day, when I ate some cupcakes. But, I did follow the gluten-embargo at brunch, when I didn’t eat the bun that came with my peameal sandwich. I have zero idea how I keep forgetting that I am following literally the simplest of diets….

Brunch: Peameal Sandwich + Fries

Snack: Cupcakes

Dinner: Chicken + Greek Salad + Potatoes + Garlic Bread

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Day 5: I didn’t eat any gluten today! I really, really was going to cheat and have pasta for dinner, but instead found some delicious vermicelli, which satisfied those cravings. I also managed to stay away from the GBC café scones, which are filled with gluten, but pretty delicious.

Breakfast: Chocolate Banana Oatmeal + Coffee

Snack: Apple + Proscuitto

Lunch: Goat Cheese and Beet Salad + Banana + Blue Cheese

Snack: 2 Eggs with Onion

Dinner: Vermicelli Stir Fry

Dessert: Coconut Rice

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Day 6: Today marks the last official day of this diet, and I wanted to make it count. Despite the fact that I really wanted some gluten, I persevered (it might have helped that there was flourless chocolate cake at hand!). I definitely had to put more thought into my meals, but the end result was pure deliciousness.

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Snack: Lab Food (Beets, eggplant, miso soup, etc.)

Lunch: An INSANE salad – think potatoes, onions, pickled fish, goat cheese, yummy!

Snack: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Dinner: Burger on a Salad + Roasted Mushrooms

Snack: Peanut Butter + Banana

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Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this diet. Even though there were times when it sucked, this mostly involved me not being allowed cookies, which perhaps isn’t the worst thing to ever happen. In fact, it made me realize that I tend to be a mindless eater. The amount of times I unwittingly almost ate gluten astounded me! It also took me so much longer to make dinner for myself, when I couldn’t go to my defaults – aka bread, pasta, etc. I actually liked how I was forced to expand my meals past what I was usually eating, and I would even go so far as to say that trying out this diet brought me out of the food rut I was in. While I’m not sure that I will continue this diet, I am going to try to keep the mindset that I had while trying it out, and not just fall back into only eating lazy meals, like eggs, pasta and toast.

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An example of my lazy meals/snacks

 

Here’s one example of a new recipe that I tried out this past week. I have always loved risotto, and this is my version of a “kitchen-sink” version of it. While the blue cheese aspect of this might turn some people off, this is truly a delicious meal, and the cheese just enhances the creaminess of the dish.

Blue Cheese Bacon Salmon Risotto

Adapted from SkinnyTaste.com

Ingredients

  • 3 ounce salmon, cut into small pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 slice bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cups arborio rice
  • 3 tsp butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 cups stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 oz. blue cheese

 

Directions

Put the stock in a pot, and heat up. You likely won’t use all of it, but I like how the flavour intensifies after it has heated for a while.

In a separate small pot, melt the butter until just browned. Add the shallots, and cook for a minute or two, until clear and soft. Add the rice, and stir for a few minutes, until they become pearl-like – clear on the edges and white in the center. Add the wine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine reduces and has been absorbed by the rice. This will probably take a few minutes. Add salt.

Ladle in about ¼ cup of the stock (until it just covers the rice), and stir occasionally until the top of the rice has been exposed. Repeat until the rice has been soft. You have to stir occasionally, but I like to let it cook a little bit without any stirring to speed up the process a little bit.

Meanwhile, while this happening, heat up a pan. Cook the bacon to your taste. Take out the bacon, and without draining the pan, add the salmon, and cook until slightly browned on both sides. Side aside until needed.

When the risotto has cooked, add the cheese, stirring until incorporated. Add the bacon and salmon, and adjust the seasonings. Enjoy!

 

 

Hug a Farmer: Shardean Farms


 phone 109phone 104

While my Aunt and Uncle have lived on a farm for as long as I can remember, their latest venture into farming only started once both had retired. While at one point in the 90s, they did raise lamb for meat (in fact,my mom tells me that she’s never had better lamb. Apparently people would call her begging for any meat they could get!), that project gave way to other ones. This time around, both were determined to make this endeavour last, and decided to start raising livestock again. But, they were determined not to raise any old animals, as instead their approach would be to revitalize heritage breeds — such as the Canadian Horse, the Jacobian Sheep and the Highland Cattle. In doing this, my Aunt and Uncle aren’t aiming to make a profit, and instead are farming because they love it, and they want to give their animals the best care possible. One unique thing is the feed — all of their cattle are grass fed, while nowadays most cattle is grain fed because this is thought to produce a better taste and is easier to control.But, my Uncle is doing it another way, because cattle have always eaten grass in the past, and he wants to preserve the old ways of doing things.

phone 103

phone 116

While I have yet to try any of their beef, due to the fact that they have just starting slaughtering their cows, I cannot wait to try it out. With this idea of getting back to the roots of raising cattle, without any fancy feed or new-style cattle breeds, I am hoping for truly delicious result.

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One of my favourite parts of visiting with my family is seeing all the animals, especially since I’ve never seen some of the breeds before. For instance, the Jacobean sheep are quite unique and rare. In fact, with the 5 sheep that they have, Shardeans Farm is the 2nd largest Jacobean sheep producer in all of North America!IMG_0412phone 120

As well, seeing the Canadian horses is quite something, as they are truly stunning animals, and as Canada’s heritage breed of horses, quite patriotic to raise. Finally the Highland cattle are quite breathtaking, with their huge horns and their friendly nature. It’s always fun to visit the farm just to see what the livestock grow and flourish!

Although I’ve visited my family’s farm countless times, every time I’m there I find that I am learning something new. It might be as simple as how they feed the cows, or as cool as watching my Aunt spin the sheep’s wool in order to make yarn. One thing that has stuck with me is that food and farming doesn’t have to be complicated. There is nothing fancy about the farm, they don’t have any staff, or any machinery, yet they are able to raise gorgeous animals and delicious meats. Actually seeing animals being raised makes you realize how much effort goes into the steak you are eating, and makes you appreciate the food journey from farm to table more.

dean with straw bales

The Fruit Hunter

189Around my cottage, there are numerous farmers’ markets, providing seasonal fruits and foods for the community. These markets are one of the best places to shop for fruits and vegetables because often the families own the farms where their products are coming from and customers can be assured that they are getting top quality goods. At Thanksgiving, I popped into The Farmer’s Pantry, which was on the way to a favourite hiking spot of my family and boasted apple picking, fresh baked goods and a petting zoo. This particular market has been around since 1999 outside of Thornbury, Ontario, growing from a fruit tent to a full service shop, where the goal is to operate a full service market and entertainment center. (Mo191re about them here) While my family’s apple picking plans were stymied by rain, I was still able to browse the selection of produce available.

What fruit I was going to be picking up was an easy choice for me – apples. Apples are by far my favourite food, and have been since I was a child, so I went directly to the bins of apples available to make my choice, and immediately reached for 185 my favourite brand of apple, Honeycrisp. I see myself as an apple connoisseur, by virtue of the fact that I’ve tried most brands of apples on the market, and Honeycrisp apples are by far the best apples one can buy. I’m a fan of crunchy apples, and often find that most apples get mealy, or have gummy skins and soft insides. Honey Crisp apples, on the other hand, have all the attributes I am looking for, as they are as crispy and crunchy as the name suggests, and are sweet with a slight tang at the end of the flav194 our profile. Thi195s is one of the attributes that I like the most about this yellow and red apple, because it pairs well with other food because it is not overpowering.

Honeycrisp apples were first developed in the 1960s by the University of Minnesota, but were only available for consumer purchase in the 1990s. These apples are fairly large, but are quite light in the mouth, differentiating this type from other crunchy apples. One unique element of these apples is that they retain their crispness for months, allowing them to be kept in cold storage after the harvest is finished, allowing the variety to be present in the grocery stores year-round. In fact, in terms of taste, it reaches its peak about a week after being removed from cold storage, so by the time consumers buy Honeycrisp apples, they are at their optimum taste. (S205ource) One downside of Honeycrisps, the season for which is from August to October, is that they are a relatively expensive apple, at about $2.49 per pound, but the quality of product that one gets makes up for the expense (source).

One dow197nside of Honeycrisps is that they are not really suited for cooking. One of the best attributes of this apple is its crispness, which would be lost when heat is applied to it, and its lack of overpowering sweetness would have to be made up for by additional sugar. With that in mind, if I was tasked with using Honeycrisps in a recipe, I would have to go with caramel apples, because it would allow this fruit to retain its crunch, while also providing a sweet treat. Caramel apples are one of my favourite desserts, and remind me of the markets surrounding my cottage, as this dish is usually an offering at the surrounding markets. Here’s a recipe (source):

CARAMEL APPLES

Honey crisp apples dipped in warm, gooey caramel sauce.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 small Honeycrisp apples
  • 8 wooden sticks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract209
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash and dry the apples and remove the stems. Insert a wooden stick three-quarters of the way through the top of each apple.
  2. Place the cream and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan over low heat. Bring the cream to a very low simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and butter and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Place the mixture over medium-high heat and cook for about 10 minutes, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 250°F on a candy thermometer. Place the pot over a bowl of ice and let cool for 1 minute.
  3. Working quickly, dip the apples into the caramel, turning to coat completely. Place the apples on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, until the caramel is set.