Why There are No French Fries in Space

By: | January 13th, 2014

Fried foods are a soggy mess in space. Photo © B. Boissonett/BSIP/Corbis

It’s impossible to prepare food in space due to zero gravity. The ingredients would float. There is no convection in hot fluids to redistribute the heat, so they experience highly localized heating unless you stir.

This is the reason astronauts have packed food that can be easily opened and eaten while on space missions. But these packed foods have a different taste and texture to have a longer shelf life.

Astronauts have long craved the type of food that is found back home on Earth. They have even expressed cravings for fries in space. With that in mind, the European Space Agency recently supported the deep-frying in space experiments conducted by researchers of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.

The science: Researchers used a giant centrifuge to cook chips under conditions of hyper-gravity. The team attached a deep-fryer filled with potato strips and oil to a centrifuge, which could generate the equivalent of a gravitational force of up to 9g – nine times that at the Earth’s surface.

As the potatoes cooked, they measured the temperature of the crust of the french fries. They found that at a force of 3g (three times the gravity of Earth) the potatoes formed a perfect crispy crust in around half the usual time.

Despite their early success, the researchers said that subsequent experiments have shown that fries cooked in zero g would be soggy with barely any crust. For now, it looks like fries in space are still off the menu.

 

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. You can also find Nidhi on Google+.

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