Friday, 6 March 2015

A Growth of A Thousand Uses



You walk into the kitchen to make yourself a sandwich. As you take out the slices of bread from the packaging, you notice something greenish-grey and fuzzy on the bread. What is that?

Tempeh is a food item that is made from whole soy beans. It is compacted into square pieces and is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves, but nowadays it is wrapped in plastic. The white velvety layer that you see on uncooked tempeh is a kind of fungus which belongs to the same family of fungus that you noticed on the slices of bread mentioned above. Funguses are organisms in a kingdom of its own just like plants, animals and bacteria are in theirs.

The fungus that grows on bread is more commonly known as black bread mold but it can also appear in other colours. Please do not eat them. However, the fungus used to make tempeh gives the soy beans a higher nutritional value, a soft texture and an earthy flavour.

Another type of fungus which is very common and familiar is mushrooms. Shiitake, Portobello, button, oyster and enoki are types of edible mushrooms that are commonly found in supermarkets. These mushrooms are rich in protein and are a good meat substitute for vegetarians.

Do you know that the antibiotic penicillin is produced by a type of fungus?

Funguses grow easily and they can also grow on dead plants and animals. That is why they play such an important role in the ecosystem by breaking down organic matter into tinier form for other organisms to use.

Anyone for a bowl of creamy mushroom soup with toasted garlic baguettes?


Experiment: Grow your own fungus
Materials: 
bread, dropper, sealable sandwich or Ziploc bags, sugar, water, marker pen.

Steps:
1. Dilute some sugar in a glass of water.
2. Add a few drops of that sugar water on one slice of bread. Leave another slice dry.
3. Place these slices of bread into separate bags and seal them.
4. Observe after three days, six days, and nine days.


Fact: 
When most foods get moldy, it means they are not good to eat anymore. But some cheeses are eaten only after they get moldy! Blue cheeses like Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Blue Stilton get its flavor from the veins of blue-green mold growing in it.

Glossary: 
Antibiotic [an-ti-bahy-ot-ik] chemical substances that inhibit or destroy bacteria and other microorganisms. 
Ecosystem [ek-oh-sis-tuhm] interaction of a community of organisms with their environments.






Shared by Surain A. Victor
Guest blogger




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