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Types of cooking also depend on the skill levels and training of the cooks. Cooking is done both by people in their own dwellings and by professional cooks and chefs in restaurants and other food establishments.
Preparing food with heat or fire is an activity unique to humans. Archeological evidence of cooking fires from at least 300,000 years ago exists, but some estimate that humans started cooking up to 2 million years ago.
The expansion of agriculture, commerce, trade, and transportation between civilizations in different regions offered cooks many new ingredients. New inventions and technologies, such as the invention of pottery for holding and boiling of water, expanded cooking techniques. Some modern cooks apply advanced scientific techniques to food preparation to further enhance the flavor of the dish served.
Phylogenetic analysis suggests that early hominids may have adopted cooking 1.8 million to 2.3 million years ago. Re-analysis of burnt bone fragments and plant ashes from the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa has provided evidence supporting control of fire by early humans by 1 million years ago. In his seminal work Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Richard Wrangham suggested that evolution of bipedalism and a large cranial capacity meant that early Homo erectus regularly cooked food. However, unequivocal evidence in the archaeological record for the controlled use of fire begins at 400,000 BCE, long after Homo erectus.[clarification needed] Archaeological evidence from 300,000 years ago, in the form of ancient hearths, earth ovens, burnt animal bones, and flint, are found across Europe and the Middle East. The oldest likely evidence (via heated fish teeth from a deep cave) of controlled use of fire to cook food by archaic humans was dated to ~780,000 years ago. Anthropologists think that widespread cooking fires began about 250,000 years ago when hearths first appeared.
Communication between the Old World and the New World in the Columbian Exchange influenced the history of cooking. The movement of foods across the Atlantic from the New World, such as potatoes, tomatoes, maize, beans, bell pepper, chili pepper, vanilla, pumpkin, cassava, avocado, peanut, pecan, cashew, pineapple, blueberry, sunflower, chocolate, gourds, and squash, had a profound effect on Old World cooking. The movement of foods across the Atlantic from the Old World, such as cattle, sheep, pigs, wheat, oats, barley, rice, apples, pears, peas, chickpeas, green beans, mustard, and carrots, similarly changed New World cooking.
Most ingredients in cooking are derived from living organisms. Vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts as well as herbs and spices come from plants, while meat, eggs, and dairy products come from animals. Mushrooms and the yeast used in baking are kinds of fungi. Cooks also use water and minerals such as salt. Cooks can also use wine or spirits.
An emulsion of starch with fat or water can, when gently heated, provide thickening to the dish being cooked. In European cooking, a mixture of butter and flour called a roux is used to thicken liquids to make stews or sauces. In Asian cooking, a similar effect is obtained from a mixture of rice or corn starch and water. These techniques rely on the properties of starches to create simpler mucilaginous saccharides during cooking, which causes the familiar thickening of sauces. This thickening will break down, however, under additional heat.
Types of fat include vegetable oils, animal products such as butter and lard, as well as fats from grains, including maize and flax oils. Fats are used in a number of ways in cooking and baking. To prepare stir fries, grilled cheese or pancakes, the pan or griddle is often coated with fat or oil. Fats are also used as an ingredient in baked goods such as cookies, cakes and pies. Fats can reach temperatures higher than the boiling point of water, and are often used to conduct high heat to other ingredients, such as in frying, deep frying or sautéing. Fats are used to add flavor to food (e.g., butter or bacon fat), prevent food from sticking to pans and create a desirable texture.
Vitamins and minerals are required for normal metabolism; and what the body cannot manufacture itself must come from external sources. Vitamins come from several sources including fresh fruit and vegetables (Vitamin C), carrots, liver (Vitamin A), cereal bran, bread, liver (B vitamins), fish liver oil (Vitamin D) and fresh green vegetables (Vitamin K). Many minerals are also essential in small quantities including iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium chloride and sulfur; and in very small quantities copper, zinc and selenium. The micronutrients, minerals, and vitamins in fruit and vegetables may be destroyed or eluted by cooking. Vitamin C is especially prone to oxidation during cooking and may be completely destroyed by protracted cooking.[failed verification] The bioavailability of some vitamins such as thiamin, vitamin B6, niacin, folate, and carotenoids are increased with cooking by being freed from the food microstructure. Blanching or steaming vegetables is a way of minimizing vitamin and mineral loss in cooking.
There are many methods of cooking, most of which have been known since antiquity. These include baking, roasting, frying, grilling, barbecuing, smoking, boiling, steaming and braising. A more recent innovation is microwaving. Various methods use differing levels of heat and moisture and vary in cooking time. The method chosen greatly affects the result because some foods are more appropriate to some methods than others. Some major hot cooking techniques include:
As of 2021, over 2.6 billion people cook using open fires or inefficient stoves using kerosene, biomass, and coal as fuel. These cooking practices use fuels and technologies that produce high levels of household air pollution, causing 3.8 million premature deaths annually. Of these deaths, 27% are from pneumonia, 27% from ischaemic heart disease, 20% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 18% from stroke, and 8% from lung cancer. Women and young children are disproportionately affected, since they spend the most time near the hearth.
The sterilizing effect of cooking depends on temperature, cooking time, and technique used. Some food spoilage bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum or Bacillus cereus can form spores that survive boiling, which then germinate and regrow after the food has cooled. This makes it unsafe to reheat cooked food more than once.
Cooking increases the digestibility of many foods which are inedible or poisonous when raw. For example, raw cereal grains are hard to digest, while kidney beans are toxic when raw or improperly cooked due to the presence of phytohaemagglutinin, which is inactivated by cooking for at least ten minutes at 100 °C (212 °F).
Proponents of raw foodism argue that cooking food increases the risk of some of the detrimental effects on food or health. They point out that during cooking of vegetables and fruit containing vitamin C, the vitamin elutes into the cooking water and becomes degraded through oxidation. Peeling vegetables can also substantially reduce the vitamin C content, especially in the case of potatoes where most vitamin C is in the skin. However, research has shown that in the specific case of carotenoids a greater proportion is absorbed from cooked vegetables than from raw vegetables.
In a human epidemiological analysis by Richard Doll and Richard Peto in 1981, diet was estimated to cause a large percentage of cancers. Studies suggest that around 32% of cancer deaths may be avoidable by changes to the diet. Some of these cancers may be caused by carcinogens in food generated during the cooking process, although it is often difficult to identify the specific components in diet that serve to increase cancer risk. Many foods, such as beefsteak and broccoli, contain low concentrations of both carcinogens and anticarcinogens.
Several studies published since 1990 indicate that cooking meat at high temperature creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are thought to increase cancer risk in humans. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that human subjects who ate beef rare or medium-rare had less than one third the risk of stomach cancer than those who ate beef medium-well or well-done. While avoiding meat or eating meat raw may be the only ways to avoid HCAs in meat fully, the National Cancer Institute states that cooking meat below 212 °F (100 °C) creates "negligible amounts" of HCAs. Also, microwaving meat before cooking may reduce HCAs by 90% by reducing the time needed for the meat to be cooked at high heat. Nitrosamines are found in some food, and may be produced by some cooking processes from proteins or from nitrites used as food preservatives; cured meat such as bacon has been found to be carcinogenic, with links to colon cancer. Ascorbate, which is added to cured meat, however, reduces nitrosamine formation.
Important contributions have been made by scientists, chefs and authors such as Hervé This (chemist), Nicholas Kurti (physicist), Peter Barham (physicist), Harold McGee (author), Shirley Corriher (biochemist, author), Robert Wolke (chemist, author.) It is different for the application of scientific knowledge to cooking, that is "molecular cooking"( (for the technique) or "molecular cuisine" (for a culinary style), for which chefs such as Raymond Blanc, Philippe and Christian Conticini, Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Pierre Gagnaire (chef).
Chemical processes central to cooking include hydrolysis (in particular beta elimination of pectins, during the thermal treatment of plant tissues), pyrolysis, and glycation reactions wrongly named Maillard reactions.
Home cooking has traditionally been a process carried out informally in a home or around a communal fire, and can be enjoyed by all members of the family, although in many cultures women bear primary responsibility. Cooking is also often carried out outside of personal quarters, for example at restaurants, or schools. Bakeries were one of the earliest forms of cooking outside the home, and bakeries in the past often offered the cooking of pots of food provided by their customers as an additional service. In the present day, factory food preparation has become common, with many "ready-to-eat" as well as "ready-to-cook" foods being prepared and cooked in factories and home cooks using a mixture of scratch made, and factory made foods together to make a meal. The nutritional value of including more commercially prepared foods has been found to be inferior to home-made foods. Home-cooked meals tend to be healthier with fewer calories, and less saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium on a per calorie basis while providing more fiber, calcium, and iron. The ingredients are also directly sourced, so there is control over authenticity, taste, and nutritional value. The superior nutritional quality of home-cooking could therefore play a role in preventing chronic disease. Cohort studies following the elderly over 10 years show that adults who cook their own meals have significantly lower mortality, even when controlling for confounding variables. 781b155fdc