Are modernist chemicals safe to eat?

In the Modernist Ingredients and Equipment Forum
As I was going through many of the recipes, I’ve noticed that many of these use chemicals in them. I’m worried about having to put in non-natural things in the food I cook, especially chemicals. Are these safe to eat and do they really need to be used?


1 Reply So Far

This is one of the most common questions asked by those who are starting out with modernist cooking. I was also pretty concerned about using chemicals when I was starting out too and had a lot of questions. The good news is that I’ve learned that there is nothing to be worried about using these ingredients.

The term chemicals can be intimidating, and make us think about unhealthy and unnatural substances. This is not true in the case of modernist cuisine. All the "chemicals" that are used come from natural sources that have been around for ages, just like agar which comes from algae and Xanthan gum which is produced from fermented cabbage.

These chemicals are not really much different from the usual kitchen ingredients that we use. Cornstarch, sugar, baking soda and many others are all processed during manufacturing. None of these are in its pure form, but are perfectly fine to eat. Many of the chemicals used in modernist cooking have actually been in use by commercial food manufacturers for years. It’s what allows food to be thicker, hold its shape and more. If you’ve had commercially produced bread, ice cream, mayonnaise (and many other foods), then it’s likely you’ve already eaten some of these "chemicals".


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