College of Ag

Linda Benedict, Blanchard, Tobie M.  |  11/11/2014 10:52:19 PM

Kids learn about science on ‘super’ Saturday

Sodium alginate in LSU purple and gold attracted youngsters to the LSU Food Science Club’s booth at Super Science Saturday on Oct. 11 at the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The LSU College of Agriculture students in the club were showing visitors how gummy candies can be made with two simple ingredients. Sodium alginate is a food-safe substance extracted from seaweed. When it is mixed with calcium chloride, a salt solution, the calcium ions replace the sodium ions and the mixture becomes gummy.

Kevin Driggers, a graduate student in food science, handed a pipette of purple sodium alginate to Faith Bridges of Walker. Bridges squeezed the pipette, releasing the alginate into a glass dish filled with the calcium chloride solution. The purple mixture immediately formed a gummy substance, resembling a gummy worm. Driggers took it from the wa and showed it to the group assembled in front of him. Smiles broke out. Everyone wanted to touch it.

“It feels squishy,” said 9-year-old Luke Losavio.

The LSU Food Science Club called their experiment “Molecular Gastronomy: making alginate gummies.”

“Molecular gastronomy is a subfield of food science that explores the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking,” said Namrata Karki, club president and a graduate student in food science.

The club chose its experiment to go along with the theme of this year’s Super Science Saturday – “Candy: The Sweet Side of Chemistry.” They gave out gummy bears and gummy worms to kids who participated in the experiment.

George Stanley, an LSU professor of chemistry who coordinates the event, said it is something his department sees real value in because it reaches youngsters.

“Few K-12 students get to do much handson science in their schools,” Stanley said. “Here they get to see first-hand how exciting science really is.” ?

Tobie Blanchard

LSU food science team takes home prestigious DuPont award

An LSU College of Agriculture nutrition and food science team placed first in the Du- Pont Knowledge Award, winning $10,000 for a new food product the team developed. Graduate students José Estrada, Namrata Karki, Kennet Carabante and Samantha Stein beat out 33 other universities with their savory cottage cheese crumbles.

Team leader, Jose Estrada, and faculty advisor and food science professor, Jack Losso, received the award at the Prepared Food’s New Product conference at Amelia Island, Florida, on Sept. 16.

This was LSU’s first time in the competition, Losso said.

According to DuPont, the award encourages development of innovative new food and beverage products using two or more DuPont ingredients.

The team calls their product Medittage and describes it as a low-fat cottage cheese with a crumbly texture that has sun-dried tomatoes and dressing with Mediterranean herbs and a touch of olive oil.

“It’s a delicious, high-protein snack, dip or side item,” Karki said.

The LSU team used three Dupont ingredients for their product – a natural antimicrobial to promote shelf life, a rosemary extract, which helps prevent lipid oxidation of the olive and sunflower oils, and a starter culture to make the cottage cheese curd.

Estrada said inspiration for the product came from a friend who was making cottage cheese in a food science lab and infused it with rosemary grown behind Miller Hall on campus. They decided to take their product further with additional herbs and flavors.

“We had passion for this product from the beginning,” Estrada said.

They worked with it until they had the right look and taste. In April, they sent 18 samples to DuPont’s nutrition and health division in New Century, Kansas, for judging. In June, they received word their product had won the  competition.

“It was like a dream come true,” said Karki.

Estrada said it was rewarding to apply what he learned in his classes and have it validated by people who devote their lives to food science.

“It was good confirmation that we are well-trained,” he said.

The team split the award four ways. DuPont owns the rights to their product for a year, but if they do not manufacture it within the year, the team gets back the rights.

“This award is very prestigious,” Losso said. “Winners of this award get jobs in industry just like that.” ?

Tobie Blanchard

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