How is Physics Used in Cooking?

Did you know that cooking is an experiment that uses both science and art to create perfect dishes? To the average person, cooking is about throwing in a bunch of ingredients and waiting to eat. However, there is a correlation between cooking and physics. Enrolling for physics tuition services in Singapore is one of the best ways to help you make the connection.

Kungfu Physics is run by Mr Gabriel Tan who has ten years of experience teaching physics. He has taught in several MOE accredited schools, and this makes him one of the best physics tutors in Singapore. He has helped hundreds of students understand how to apply the principles taught in class to real-life situations.

In this article, we will look at how physics is used in cooking. We will also give you tips and tricks on how to approach cooking and apply the principles of physics in cooking for perfect outcomes of your recipes.

What is Gastrophysics and Why Do We Need It?

Cooks and chefs use physics in kitchens all over the world, and people have suggested a variety of names for referring to the science of the kitchen. Some of the names have included molecular gastronomy, culinary science, kitchen science. However, scientists have settled on gastrophysics.

Gastrophysics is a name that has been rejected by different fields of science since it could make people think about gastric problems, and people will be less likely to buy to attend lecturers and buy books. However, gastrophysics ought to be to gastronomy as astrophysics is to astronomy. So, as it stands today, gastrophysics is the science of the kitchen.

In later sections of this article, you will learn how you can apply physics in the kitchen. However, the most important way of using the kitchen as an experimental laboratory is that it provides people of all ages to engage with science in a seemingly impossible way.

In the ideal situation, Singapore students ought to take some of their physics lessons in the school kitchens. They would learn about basic cooking methods and basic physics science at the same time. Moreover, if they take the physics experiments that relate to cooking home and talk about them with their family members will have a profound impact on the future of gastrophysics.

The information gained from understanding the best cooking methods, according to gastrophysics, will result in a variety of benefits, including:

  • Improving the diet to reduce diabetes
  • Improved overall health
  • Improving social cohesion through combined family activities

All in all, gastrophysics will lead to the creation of a more scientific-literate society. All of this is possible if we start contemplating the incorporation of physics in how we prepare food. With that said, Kungfu Physics offers professional physics tuition services in Singapore. This includes the physics tutor making connections between the physics principles and everyday domestic chores such as cooking.

Physics and Cooking

The kitchen is a laboratory and cooking is an experimental science. This could be a new way of looking at one of the oldest and most essential activities at home. When you cook, you are generally using a recipe, whether from a book or it is ingrained in your brain.

You will select, quantify, and process the ingredients and present a ready dish for consumption. A good cook will usually keep notes, written or memorised of what needs to be done in the process of cooking to recreate the experiment again and reduce the margin of error.

The physics of cooking is all about understanding why the accurate control of the cooking environment helps improve the quality of the cooked food. Moreover, knowing how the connections work will help you know how control can be achieved consistently and reliably.

When you start considering how physics can be applied to cooking, you will start scientifically evaluating your cooking methods. You will be able to eat healthier and enjoy the cooking process more.

Besides, chefs all over the world are taking up scientific cooking. These chefs have become partial scientists, while some are going to the extent of employing food physicians and chemists in their kitchens full time. This has led to the emergence of deconstructed dishes that are infamous in high-end restaurants that results in accolades such as Michelin stars.

Tips and Tricks for Using Physics When Cooking

Before you can start applying physics to your cooking, you will need to understand how they work. With that said, here are the tips and tricks to help you out:

Homemade Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream is a difficult undertaking for most people. The whole process can be frustrating, and you could end up with a crunchy icy mess rather than a soft, creamy and delicious ice cream. However, with physics, you can get close to store-bought ice cream by controlling the water in the mixture and the size of the forming ice crystals.

You will also need to control the air, flavour, and stability to make the perfect homemade ice cream. You will also need to know how to add the right amount of sugars. So, what is the physics part of making ice cream at home?

You will need to understand how temperature works. For example, using milk with high-fat content will get fewer crystals since you will use less water. The sugar in the batter also lowers the water’s freezing point, and this will make the mixture softer and creamier at lower temperatures.

Finally, if you do not have an ice cream maker, set the freezer at the coldest temperature to set the mixture into ice cream. The knowledge learnt in studying temperature will come in handy in knowing how much of the ingredients you ought to use and how they will affect the freezing point.

On top of this, modern physics has made it easy to freeze ice cream without forming large ice crystals. Liquid Nitrogen is so cold it boils at -320o Fahrenheit. This means that everything that comes into contact with it freezes instantly. The water molecules in the ice cream moisture will not get a chance to form ice; instead they solidify instantly.

In addition to that, adding liquid nitrogen to blended milk, cream, and sugar mixture freezes instantly. This produces microscopic crystals resulting in creamier and smoother texture. However, if you do not have a canister of liquid Nitrogen, you should keep stirring the mixture to beat back the crystals.

Moist Cake

According to Sir Francis Galton, a British mathematical scientist, the popular way of cutting a wedge out of a round cake is faulty. The science behind it is that, when you cut out a wedge and store it, the left-over cake will lose moisture through the exposed sides, and the cake goes stale very fast.

You can use maths and physics to help preserve the freshness of the cake. Sir Galton advises that you cut the cake in half, then piece the remaining halves together, where all the exposed sides are not visible. The process of losing moisture will continue until the cake is finished.

Wedding caterers use a specific method of cutting cakes while reducing the surface area of the exposed inner parts.

Fluffy Rice

Boiling rice is not as easy as most people make it. However, getting the universal recipe of the ratio of water and rice right is not always the best way to cook the perfect pot of rice. Moreover, it does not automatically mean that you should increase the amount of water when you increase the price. Doing so will leave you with rice that is not uniformly cooked.

You can use the basics principles of physics to cook a perfect pot of rice, every time without fail. You will learn how to make the adjustments to the cooking set up, and then calculate the amount of water required to make the perfect fluffy rice.

The Perfect Potatoes

The concept of thermal diffusion in physics can be described using potatoes. Peter Barham, a physicist at the University of Bristol, points out that when a potato is placed in boiling water, it cooks through thermal diffusion.

The width of the cooked part of the potato increases subject to the square root of the cooking time. The rate depends on the difference between the internal temperature of the potato before and after cooking.

This application of physics goes unnoticed by many, but it is the surest way of knowing when the potatoes are well done. It could also be used for other hard tubers. With that said, Mr Tan ensures to help students know how they can apply the theory they learn in class in everyday scenarios.

Boiling a potato in a temperature-controlled bath will help bring out the concept of heat transfer. The main study is the melting or gelatinising at a defined temperature which is usually set at 60oC. You will notice the potato change from wet milky colour to a translucent gel-like texture.

The Perfect Steak

There are many ways of cooking steak, but modern physics point towards the sous vide method as the best way to cook the perfect steak. It is a method of cooking meat in a bag immersed in the water at a constant temperature.

The proteins molecules in meat change their shape when it gets to a certain temperature. This is a process known as denaturing. When cooking meat, you only need to denature one protein, not all of them in the meat. This is a similar process that occurs when an egg turns from goo to hard-boiled.

However, the sous vide cooking method takes hours to get the steak ready, but it is worth the wait since the temperature is constant throughout the steak. However, what makes it different from throwing it in the pan and searing it?

Pan-frying the steak creates bounce, this is how the meat springs back after poked. For the perfect texture, you need to make sure you have the right amount of bounce, which is dependent on your palate. However, the bounce is related to the molecular properties of the meat molecules and the proteins in the meat. To cook the perfect steak, you will not only need to consider the temperature, but also the elasticity.

The Best Physics Tuition Services in Singapore

There is an exponential increase in the number of tuition centres in Singapore. However, there are only a few competent tutors. Fortunately, we have the best physics tutor in Singapore. Mr. Tan has been teaching physics for ten years now.

Mr Tan has found a way to make the physics concepts relatable for his students. This includes giving them tests at home in the kitchen. With that said, here are more reasons why you should consider Kungfu Physics for physics tuition in Singapore.

Variety of Resources

Physics principles are a way of easing the way we do things. However, most students learn physics to pass exams, and they hardly retain any information after that. Mr Tan has over the years developed resources that will help his O-Levels, IP, and A-Level physics students to master the subject. This includes additional assignments that need to be tested in the homes laboratory that is the kitchen.

Experience and Skill

With ten years of physics teaching physics, Mr Tan has seen the teaching methods that work and those that do not. He has established a variety of techniques to investigate physics principles thanks to the experience and skills picked up along the way.

He has been an assistant HOD and lecturer at Raffles JC, and a HOD at Catholic High Secondary and several other MOE schools. He has experience teaching O-level, IP and A-levels physics. Mr Tan oversees physics tuition, and you can be confident that you will have an opportunity to improve your physics score.


Physics is a science that is part of everyday life, even when it comes to how we cook. Modern physics is making work easier in different areas of our lives. We hope that you have learnt a trick or two on how physics is used in cooking.

Before you start using physics in the kitchen, you need first to master the principles and concepts that makeup physics. Contact Kungfu Physics today and schedule for a physics tuition session.