Wednesday, April 6, 2011

General Science: What to feed your pet yeast

Before we do away with all of our חמץ, it seems appropriate to learn something about our tiny unicellular fungal friend, the yeast. After all, we have a lot in common: Like us, yeast eat, reproduce, and respire. That's fancy-talk for releasing carbon dioxide as a result of transforming the energy from food into energy our cells can use. This comes in handy when baking bread. It's the carbon dioxide gas that causes the bread to rise.

This week's question was: What's a yeast's favorite food: salt, sugar, or flour? To know which food was eaten most heartily by our yeast, we prepared bottles of yeast, warm water, and one of the three foods being tested. We covered each bottle with a balloon and then sat back and watched the show. The samples of yeast fed sugar were the happiest, i.e. the balloons inflated the fastest because of the greater production of carbon dioxide. Flour came in second and salt came in last. We discussed how flour, a complex sugar, gets broken down into simpler sugars. A little more work, but when you're hungry, you do what you have to. Yet one more thing we all have in common...LAZINESS and an appreciation for fast food.

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