The Mathematics of Cooking

Out of complete boredom a few months back, I asked my fellow contestant from Junior Masterchef if he liked math. He said he hated it. I tried to explain that  if he wanted to be a good chef, he had to learn math. Irritated, he told me to be quiet, though in harsher terms, and I left the subject. Then my father told me to write about  the mathematics of cooking.  I guess he wants me to love  math as I do cooking. So here goes…

One time , I cooked steak for my family. It turned out, it was really salty. Mom said I did not use the right proportion of salt to the weight of the meat. Ignoring mathematics in the kitchen could destroy your dish.

These are some of the math concepts that come in handy :

  1. Measurements
  2. Fractions
  3. Addition
  4. Subtraction
  5. Multiplication
  6. Division
  7. Time
  8. Weight
  9. Ratio and Proportion
  10. Approximates

Here’s my first attempt at using math in cooking. One Friday, our charity, The Healthy Kidchen ,  were going to cook sweet plantains for recess. We were going to feed 50 kids at Holy Spirit Elementary School in Bgy. Holy Spirit .

We found a recipe for 1 serving of sweet plantains:

4 pieces plantains (saging na saba)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Problem:  I need to cook for 50 kids. Each kid will receive 2 plantains. The recipe is made for 4 plantains a serving. So what do I need to do?

Requirement: 50 servings ; 2 plantains per serving

Solution:

  1. I multiplied 50 by 2 to get 100 plantains, that we need to buy.
  2. I divided the 100 plantains by 4 (because the recipe makes one serving with 4 plantains). So that makes 25 the multiplier for each quantity of ingredients.
  3. I multiplied the 3/4 cups brown sugar by 25. That makes approximately 19 cups of brown sugar.
  4. I multiplied 1 1/2 cups water by 25. That makes 37 1/2 cups of water.
  5. I multiplied 1 teaspoon vanilla extract by 25. That makes 25 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
  6. I multiplied 1/4 teaspoon salt by 25. That makes 6 1/4 teaspoons of salt.
  7. This makes 25 servings of 4 plantains each, or in proportion, 50 servings of 2 plantains each.

Procedure:

1. Peel the plantains. Slice plantains diagonally.

2. Boil the water in a cooking pot.

3. Add brown sugar and stir until diluted.

4. Add salt and vanilla extract and mix well.

5. Put in the plantains and adjust the heat to medium. Cover the cooking pot and simmer for 8 to 12 minutes or until the liquid thickens.

6. Turn-off heat and allow the plantains to cool.

7. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.

Mathematical concepts used

  1. Ratio and Propotion
  2. Fraction
  3. Multiplication
  4. Division
  5. Approximate

Here are the results:

Some very happy kids =)

Math + cooking = Some very happy kids

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