Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Question of the week: Can you cook soup forever?
A quick google-search did not reveal the answer, thus i posit the question here:
A question came up while making chilli with my crockpot. Generally, the longer you leave it on, the better the soup tastes. Can i leave it on forever (assuming adding some water every once in a while to maintain the soup)? When will it "go bad?" if ever?
It can only really go back by two mechanisms:
1. bacterial/mold - what usually degrades old food. But in this case the simmering temperature would keep any organism from growing, unless you live near oceanic volcano vents which has high-temperature bacteria. So let's assume you'll never have degradation from bacteria.
2. chemical change due to temperature/agitation. Eventually, one would expect all the beans and chunks to break apart and dissolve into the soup. Possibly, with the continual heat entry there may be chemical changes to the nutrients, possibly creating toxins? Or maybe the meat would get old and tough? But if you can simmer for 6 hours with no significant change, what the chance what you'll get significant change over 24 hours? or days or weeks?
Science in action: to solve these questions, i propose an experiment! I will cook chili continuously for a month in my crockpot, then have taste-testers try out the soup. Because i would be biased if i tried it myself, i have to invite some friends over to try it out, telling them that it's a fresh-batch of Chili to see if they detect any fault in the soup. I would repeat once a week to see if any change occurs over 4 weeks and the initial taste.