The Vegetable Diaries: The Lab Demetria Provatas 19 August 2012 Partner: Tim Fox

Introduction: The purpose of this experiment was to understand the structure and function of plants and their usable segments and how those segments react to varying forms of heat. Hypothesis: We predict that each plant segment will have culinary properties that are reflexive of the purpose they serve for the plant and that the flavor and texture will vary accordingly when browned and steamed. Materials: 8 stalks of asparagus 1 red pepper ½ cup rice ½ cup nacre rice 1 celeriac Butter lettuce Induction pan Induction heater Steamer Procedure: 1. Nacre ½ cup of rice then pour into a pot with 1 cup of boiling water. Cook until rice is done. 2. Pour another ½ cup of rice into 1 cup of boiling water and cook until done. 3. Chop the celeriac into a small dice then steam one half

portion and brown the other half in a sauté pan. 4. Chop the 8 stalks of asparagus on the bias and then steam one half and brown the other half in a sauté pan. 5. Cut the red pepper into batons and then steam one half and brown the other half in a skillet. 6. Chiffonade the butter lettuce. Steam one half and then brown the other half in a sauté pan. 6. Place all the cooked plant segments and cooked rice on a sheet pan. Observe the differences in appearance and taste. Data:

Plant Segment Red Pepper

Steamed Soft, crisper tender, brighter light red color, sweet, more moist Light green, crisper, tender,

Browned Oily, brown/black in color, sweet, more wilted Browned/burnt taste, wilted, oily,


soft texture, moist, Celeriac savory taste Sweet, Tender, light celery after Butter Lettuce taste, starchy Sugar, leafy/savory taste, wet, wilted, Rice light green color Bland, bleach white color, softer texture

crunchy texture, smoky, sweeter Crunchier, smoky, starchy, root taste, oily Oily, mushy, wilted, leaf taste, darker green color Starchy, drier, bland, starchy taste, browned color, more uniform grains of rice

Results: Through steaming each plant segment we allowed the air pockets within the cell walls to be filled with water giving each food a swollen, brighter appearance, and a more tender texture. Through browning we broke down those cell walls, thus giving it that wilted, less moist appearance and taste. Through breaking down the cell walls a lot of the plant’s moisture was released The red pepper is a fruit so it is the most flavorful, nutritive part of the plant whilst serving no nutritive role for the plant. It contains seeds and is meant to encourage seed dispersal. This is why during our tasting the red pepper was the

sweetest and more flavorful. The asparagus is a plant stem as it provides a skeletal structure for the plant, thus giving it that tougher, fibrous texture. Steaming and browning take much longer for the asparagus as the tough cell walls have to be heated for a while before they begin to break down. Celeriac is a swollen stem member, so it serves as plant storage in a space between the stem and the roots. This is what gives the celeriac that starchy taste. The butter lettuce is the leaf part of the plant thus it is primarily where photosynthesis occurs. In order for the leaves to capture light they are flat and thin and most of their volume consists of air. This is why when the butter lettuce was heated it lost most of its structure and shrank so dramatically. Rice is a seed thus it is an embryonic shoot encased by a hard, protective seed coat. This is why it takes a longer boiling time to soften the seed coat. Nacre rice browned up the seed coat and hardened up its cell walls thus making each granule more uniform and less mushy when boiled. Conclusion: Our hypothesis was upheld as each plant segment exemplified qualities that reflect its purpose in the plant and those properties were upheld when each plant was steamed and browned

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