Popularized by movies like Zombieland, some people believe that Twinkies will last forever (or twenty years) because they’re made with artificial ingredients of the highest degree. Ultimately, the truth is much less interesting. Twinkies are basically small cakes. Same ingredients as any other cake. Twinkies do have an ingredient or two to increase their shelf life, but it isn’t as dramatic as people would have you believe; when the apocalypse hits, you have about a month until all the Twinkies in the world expire.
Even some experienced cooks are victims of this false belief: alcohol used in cooking doesn’t always evaporate. In fact, nearly ninety percent of the alcohol you use in cooking a particular dish could remain in it after you’re done, depending on how long you cook it for. In order to ensure that all the alcohol has been evaporated out of the food, you have to cook it for three hours. While the amount of alcohol in a given dish is unlikely to be enough to alarm anyone cooking with it, it is still helpful to remember that you are indeed drinking if you eat such a dish.
Speaking of the effects of cooking food, the microwave is often looked down on. Food can often taste weird when it’s reheated with the microwave, and most people who microwave food to cook it aren’t seasoning it, so the food that goes through it has gotten a reputation for being a bit bland. Wort of all, a popular myth is that a microwave can get rid of some of the nutrients in food, breaking the food down during the cooking process. Thankfully, the opposite is the case. Microwaves heat food the most efficiently and quickly out of all the other cooking methods, with less heat required. In fact, they preserve the most nutritional value of the food heated in them. It may not be looked upon as sophisticated, but for health value, the microwave can’t be beat.
Cooking meat can be nearly religious to some people. Everyone always has some sort of nugget of barbecue wisdom to impart, or rules that they live by when cooking. One such rule is that pork is always well done, or you risk food poisoning. While this has been true in the far past, we now have such comprehensive food standards that it is simply unnecessary to cook pork only to well done. Most cases of trichinosis, the disease of undercooked meat, stem from wild game now. In addition, don’t sear your steak unless you prefer the hard crust on the outside. It does nothing to lock in flavor or moisture; it just creates a contrast between the inside and outside of the meat.
When you dispel these common food myths, not only can you help your family and friends, but gain some peace of mind; you don’t have to hear about false food wisdom, and you’re better informed.