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Old 02-08-2007, 05:57 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boufa06
While it's true that bases will cause breakdown and therefore softening of food, it may prove somewhat dangerous to do. Strong bases such as sodum hydroxide would be dangerous if used beyond a certain amount. The amount the human body can tolerate is very small. Weaker bases such as calcium hydroxide (lime water) may be marginally safer but still dangerous. In addition, calcium hydroxide will give an unpleasant taste to the food. It is better to experiment with very weak bases which pose a much lower health risk. But is saving some old beans worth all this trouble? Finally, please bear in mind that breaking food down through the action of a base is the process that is foreign to the human body which breaks down food by the action of acid (hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach).
Actually, the acid in hte stomach merely starts a part of the digestion process. Foods are actually broken down in the small intestine by bile salts, which are strong bases (alkalyes). The bile release is triggered by the acidic food entering the douodenum, if I recall correctly. The sugars, starches, and fats are then broken down into digestible materials that can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Think of Dawn dishwashing liquid and what it does to grease. It is a very effective base. And also notice that most drain cleaners, and oven cleaners are positive PH as well. They break down the foods and make them easier to get off of surfaces.

But still, strong bases are very caustic and will quickly destroy body tissues if gotten into the wrong areas of the body. But YT is correct in that there are food products that have been treated with such things as lye to make them pallatable. The first example I can think of is hominy. Hominy is a tough corn that is inedible until treated with lye to soten the hulls. I believe that pretzels are also treated with a base. Baking soda, though not as strong as many alkalies, is still a base and reactes fairly violently with acids.

Foods that are treated with alkalies are then rinsed to remove them from the food.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 02-08-2007, 06:48 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North
...
But still, strong bases are very caustic and will quickly destroy body tissues if gotten into the wrong areas of the body. But YT is correct in that there are food products that have been treated with such things as lye to make them pallatable. The first example I can think of is hominy. Hominy is a tough corn that is inedible until treated with lye to soten the hulls. I believe that pretzels are also treated with a base. Baking soda, though not as strong as many alkalies, is still a base and reactes fairly violently with acids.
...
Well Goodweed, the tough corn that hominy is made from is not necessarily different than the corn from which your polenta or corn meal is milled, hulls and all. Furthermore, although I can't say for certain why folks started treating maize with alkali 3 or 4 thousand years ago, ordinary ashes were originally used, I bet they kept it up, in part at least, because the ones that didn't died young. That was an unfortunate fate shared by no small number of Europeans and Africans who tried to live off the maize the conquistadors sent back with the plunder. Had the primary motivation been to make their staple grain more palatable, why did the folks from the old world resist?

Of course, I'm no expert and would appreciate corrections of any misunderstandings.
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Old 02-09-2007, 08:21 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by skilletlicker
Well Goodweed, the tough corn that hominy is made from is not necessarily different than the corn from which your polenta or corn meal is milled, hulls and all. Furthermore, although I can't say for certain why folks started treating maize with alkali 3 or 4 thousand years ago, ordinary ashes were originally used, I bet they kept it up, in part at least, because the ones that didn't died young. That was an unfortunate fate shared by no small number of Europeans and Africans who tried to live off the maize the conquistadors sent back with the plunder. Had the primary motivation been to make their staple grain more palatable, why did the folks from the old world resist?

Of course, I'm no expert and would appreciate corrections of any misunderstandings.
I don't know the history of using alkalyes to help process foods. I know much more about the body and its processes. I just know that the substances were used to process corn (maize). So, I can't really engage in any meaningful discussion on the topic. I did, however, want to set the record straight when I read Boufa's post about stomach acids digesting food. That's all my freinds.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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