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Author Topic: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.  (Read 1510 times)

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Online livo

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Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« on: February 07, 2019, 03:39 AM »
Can you expand a bit on that x1.5 per doubling? Is it that if you double, then rather than doubling the chilli you only increase by 1.5? And if doubling again, and again ... then what?

There's an implicit, logical dead-end to that rule. If we continue to increase the size of the cooking pot at some point there will be no need for any spices at all! It's the cooking equivalent of perpetual motion. It's just not logical.

First of all SS, obviously no one is going to increase the size of a pot as to the point of approaching infinity, and at which the functional incremental spice increase would approach zero.

To expand a bit, yes. This is a theorized and often utilized practice pertaining to the increased quantity of spicing in relation to the increased volume of primary ingredients in a dish.  For each doubling of the primary ingredients there is an applied increase of only 1.5 X the amount of certain spices (as listed above) but certainly including chilli.  This may or may not be necessary in the first instance, ie; in going from a single serve to a double serve in the case of BIR style cooking.

So as not to insult anybody's intelligence, I won't do the sums for us.  Obviously there is no need to be FOAM (fixated on accurate measurement) and rounding up or down to an appropriate closest measure would be more than acceptable. This is a fairly general cooking practice and I have in the past found several sources confirming the application of the adjustment method.   It may be related to the lack of need to use extra ingredients when they are not really required (economy) or it may be related to the actual fact of spice overload of linear scaling, or possibly a combination of both.  My reading certainly indicated it the be to prevent over-spicing of dishes.   I've posted some links in relation to this theory in other related threads in the past. I guess I could trawl the internet again to see if I can re-find references to this material.
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Online livo

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Re: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 06:29 AM »
In addition to previous links to supportive dialog.  Here http://www.curry-recipes.co.uk/curry/index.php?topic=13774.msg121623#msg121623

See Tip # 3 here: https://shop.mybluprint.com/cooking/article/doubling-recipes/
(Also interestingly tip #4 on fats and oils.)

Here https://civilizedcaveman.com/meal-plans/double-a-recipe/

http://www.canadianspiceassociation.com/spice-industry/322-2/spice-usage/

On these pages, Chilli is actually recommended to be increased by a factor of only 1.25.  This is only a couple that explain this recommendation in detail.  There are many more although the Universtiy of Missisipi worksheet on the subject is clearly wrong.  After stating this;
" Increase the herbs and spices by 25% (0.25) ......
Heat builds in recipes quickly, especially when adding hot seasoning such as red
pepper (cayenne), mustard, cloves, and peppercorns."

the worksheet actually goes on to show the amount actually increased by 125% for double, using a conversion factor of 2.25 instead of 1.25. OOOPs  https://theicn.org/resources/354/no-time-to-trainshort-lessons-for-school-nutrition-assistants/105432/lesson-34-adjusting-a-recipe-with-herbs-and-spices.pdf
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Offline Donald Brasco

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Re: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 07:17 AM »
Is this related to the fact the chilli heat is transmitted to our palate via the layer of oil which coats the curry, rather than the bulk of the sauce itself?  If the surface area of a curry increases in proportion to the square root of its increase in volume, then should the chilli content increase by 1.41 (square root of 2) each time you double the volume?

In other words, scale the chilli powder in proportion to the increase in surface area of the curry ( the bit where the oil "hangs out"), rather than volume. And before someone starts taking about different shaped dishes, obviously "all else must be equal", i.e. same shape.

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Online Peripatetic Phil

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Re: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 08:29 AM »
Root two is certainly what I have always thought was probably the optimal ratio, but in real terms the difference between root two and 1.5 is sufficiently small that the latter can serve as a good approximation.

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« Last Edit: February 07, 2019, 08:55 AM by Peripatetic Phil »
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Offline Secret Santa

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Re: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 04:54 PM »
Is this related to the fact the chilli heat is transmitted to our palate via the layer of oil which coats the curry, rather than the bulk of the sauce itself?  If the surface area of a curry increases in proportion to the square root of its increase in volume, then should the chilli content increase by 1.41 (square root of 2) each time you double the volume?

In other words, scale the chilli powder in proportion to the increase in surface area of the curry ( the bit where the oil "hangs out"), rather than volume. And before someone starts taking about different shaped dishes, obviously "all else must be equal", i.e. same shape.

Pretty much no. On all accounts.

Firstly, the chilli heat is not just transferred by the oil. Don't believe me? Throw a raw green chilli in you mouth and start chewing. You know what the effect of that is, right? And where's the oil there?

Secondly, the oil is distributed throughout the curry as an emulsion. So there's no "surface" effect.

Frankly I'm bored with the subject as I don't believe it has any merit. If one chilli is needed in one curry then n chillies are needed in a curry n times the volume to achieve the same chilli-heat effect. Anyone who claims otherwise is bonkers.

Otherwise tell me what the mechanism is that allows less of an ingredient to be used to achieve the same effect purely because the bulk quantity is increased. Or maybe we're to believe that it's some sort of homeopathic mechanism whereby you reduce the active ingredient to increase the ingredient's effect. Or some other undefined witchery.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2019, 07:33 PM by Secret Santa »
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Offline Secret Santa

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Re: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 05:07 PM »
@livo

Regarding your links. You'll note none of them are in any way scientific and specifically they offer no scientific explanation for their scaling figures. It all smacks very much of; well that's how my granny used to do it so that's how I do it. Yeah, ok.

In particular, from the Canadian Spice Association:

Quote
Hot red pepper (typically 1,000 to 2,000 ASTA Heat Units in foodservice packs) builds up even more quickly than the herbs. For the first doubling, the red pepper can still be doubled. But, after that, use only ¼ of the original amount for each multiple or the original recipe.

Example: For a recipe that calls for 1 teaspoon of red pepper for 10 servings, you would need only 4 teaspoons for a batch that makes 100 servings.

OK. So if you double a portion you double the "red pepper". But, lo and behold, anything above a doubling and the portion pixie waves her magic wand and we only have to add 1/4 the original amount. So what is it that's specifically unique about doubling that apparently doesn't apply to any other ratio? And, madness upon madness, what if I take this already doubled portion and now double that? Well I'm doubling again so can double the chilli. Right? Apparently not!  :o


I also note, in your comments regarding scaling of Andy's base, that you are quite happy to scale down proportionately. And you even disparage (rightly so in my opinion) his insistence that the base can't be halved as it just doesn't work (they tried it!). So we can scale evenly when reducing a bulk quantity but can't when increasing from a smaller quantity? What?
« Last Edit: February 07, 2019, 05:49 PM by Secret Santa »
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Online Peripatetic Phil

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Re: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2019, 05:13 PM »
The person who could have shed real scientific light on this vexed topic (Professor Jack Pridham, founder of "Chemophilia", a web site devoted to debunking chemical myths) sadly died a few years ago.  I have asked someone else (a friend who is a professor of human nutrition) who may be able to shed some light. 

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Offline Secret Santa

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Re: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2019, 05:23 PM »
I'd be happy to be proved wrong Phil ... as long as it's backed by good science and not pixie logic.  ;D
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Re: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2019, 06:30 PM »
I might go in for pisky [1] logic occasionally, but my scientist friends most certainly do not !
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Offline Secret Santa

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Re: Scaling spices and bulk cooking.
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 09:01 PM »
Right, I just had a quick trawl through six food-science books I have to see what they have to say about this. Amazingly there is barely any information at all. One didn't even mention chilli or capsaicins at all - even allowing for variations in the spelling of chilli!

Significantly though none of them made any allusions to a rule-of-thumb for how to deal with spice quantities when multiplying-up recipes. I really would have expected that information as it's such a common question. Anyway, I have a couple more weightier tomes that I can't locate at the moment but I'll report back if I find anything.
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