Reusing Peanut Deoxidizer?

I had a serious problem lately. It was not serious to me but it really was for my pet product. My cocoa bean stocks were attacked by molds. It was my fault. I poorly sealed several sacks and left them near the open window. Rain came, humidity increased and the beans absorbed moisture via poorly sealed lid. The negligence resulted to moldy cocoa beans. I am still thankful only the husks are affected and the beans smell well fermented, else, all of them will go to dump site. What a great waste of money!

Deoxidizer to the rescue! All of these were free. It came from vacuum packed peanuts. Not sure if they were still good or not but I used them anyway. I transferred the beans to another not so well sealed container (I never learned my lesson!). Put lots of used deoxydizer on top. Visited it after few weeks and observed no signs of further mold growth. I think they are still packed with deoxidizing power, scavenging surrounding oxygen and preventing mold growth.

deoxydizer cocoa beansIt is not a long term solution so I plan on buying thick and large polypropylene bags and some fresh deoxydizers. Combination of the two will greatly help reduce risk of molds.

Excess Microwave Heat on PP Boxes

Polypropylene (PP) is microwave oven safe. It wouldn’t be used for microwave heating applications otherwise. It is resistant to corrosion and chemical leaching. Resilient to most physical damages, impact and freezing. If plastic box is marked as microwave oven safe, then, it is 99.9% PP, the plastic number 5.

If it is microwave oven safe and resistant to heat. Then, why the ketchup is leaving a mark on bottom of this PP lunchbox?

polypropylene box stained with ketchupMicrowave heating works only if the object inside the enclosure contains water molecules. No heat is produced if water is absent. A simple test to know whether a vessel is microwave oven safe or not is to half-fill it with water and heat it inside a microwave oven for few seconds. If the water is relatively hotter than vessel, then the latter is microwave oven safe.

Explaining it deeper. In convectional heating, heat is transferred from the source to metal vessel the to the food. Microwave heating works the other way around. Heat is only produced when microwave energy comes in contact with water molecule. Hot polypropylene box is a result of heat transferring from water to plastic material. PP can resist temperature up to 275 °F or 135 °C. Above, it may react to the food it contain. It melts at 175 °C.

If the microwave oven safe material is pushed to its limits. Then, it may not be called safe. Safe is only safe within its own limits.

Microwave Safe Plastic Box For Popping Popcorn

I was looking for matured corn kernels and thought found it at last. I thought it was red corn. I came near and asked how much.  It was 20 pesos per pack of 250 grams.

popcorn kernelsFYI, I need matured corn kernels to continue the cornick cooking trial.

However, the kernels seemed too small for a regular red corn. I am sorry for the lack of knowledge. The real corn identity is popcorn. The vendor told me to make sure a batch does not overcrowd the cooking vessel.

I have never cooked popcorn yet. This was a good opportunity for a trial. It was not hard, I guessed.

The popular method for cooking popcorn is placing the kernels and some oil in casserole, covering and shaking vigorously over strong flame for few minutes.

I did the microwave method instead. No popcorn popper was available in our house. I think buying one for the sake of cooking popcorn is not worth. Microwave is an easier and lazier way to cook it.

No paper bag available. I placed few popcorn kernels in microwavable polypropylene food box, added a little oil and  popped it at high setting for three minutes.

popcorn kernels in microwave safe boxjust cooked plain popcornMicrowave energy never attacks polypropylene polymers but the heat emitted by kernels melted the plastic bottom a bit. I line the food box with clean manila paper on second trial.

pocorn kernels lined with manila paper

A Rough Comparison of Polystyrene and Polypropylene Disposable Drinking Cups

I thought disposable cups are changing its material to a more heat resistant polypropylene. The last disposable cup set I bought was a soft heat resistant polypropylene. It never breaks when crumpled and never deformed when poured with hot boiling water. I used if for maja gelling experiment with no problems. Perhaps can be used for serving hot coffee and tea provided that drinker has thick gloves on.

Recently, we ordered a merienda meal from Jollibee. The pineapple drinks were in capped disposable drinking cups. Drinks were relatively large. We were not able to consume it all and we’re forced to take it home.

jollibee coke disposable drinking cup cover

The beverage containers were PS, polystyrene. I took the chance to make a simple rough comparison. Please note that disposables are serve only for take out orders. Foods for dine-in customers are placed on washable ceramic plates.

Here it goes…

Polystyrene is low cost and easy to produce. Breakable CD cases and cheap razors and yogurt cups are made of PS. Polypropylene is more expensive. Notice the PP baby feeding bottles cost more.

Polystyrene produce mostly CO2, water and a little soot when incinerated. Polypropylene on the other hand is also considered non-toxic but the resulting products when normally burned are carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbon (soot), formaldehyde, and acrolein. Normal campfire burning of PS is a different case and can be as dangerous as PP.

PS is not as heat resistant as PP. A slight deformation occurred when I filled it with boiling water. The cup got shorter and wider. Anyway, it is meant to contain ice-cold beverages and not steaming hot coffee.

PS is not as flexible as PP. It breaks easily when crumpled.

Truth About Floating Drinking Straw

I bought a bottled orange juice. I got drinking straw and placed it in, it sank well down to bottom. After a day, I bought bottled juice again. Got one drinking straw and placed it in. The straw floated. It does not really matter whether a drinking straw floats or sinks. The more important are : it should be clean and able to serve its sucking purpose.

Placing floating straw in a glass of juice is a bit annoying. The straw will float and often fall on table. Noticed that most restaurant and fast food chains never served drinks with straw in. The straw is placed near the glass. The customer have a choice to use or not to use it. If the straw fall, then it is customer’s fault. It should be placed in the drink when the customer will actually drink it. About 1/4 of the content should be consumed immediately to prevent straw from falling out. The emptied glass portion will served as straw support.

I wish all drinking straws are made to sink so the hassle will be eliminated.

Here are some facts. Drinking straws that float are made of polypropylene plastic. Polymer that is generally recommended for food contacts. They are stronger and more durable. On the other hand, those that float are made of polystyrene.

Nowadays, most drinking straws are made to float.

drinking straw

Update as of May 26, 2012. A self conducted experiment showed that  some straws might be made of LDPE, low density polyethylene.  Read, “Popular Drinking Straws Are Made Of?