Friday, December 6, 2013

Small Batch Artisanal High Fructose Corn Syrup

Combining a couple trains of thought (links below) we come to this from Bon Appétit:

Make Your Own High-Fructose Corn Syrup with Artist Maya Weinstein
Mix 10 cups of Yellow Dent #2 corn extract with one drop sulfuric acid, one teaspoon Alpha-Amylase, one teaspoon Glucose-Amylase, and one teaspoon Xylose, strain through a cheesecloth, and heat. Then, once the slurry has reached 140 degrees, add Glucose Isomerase, bring to a boil, let cool, and enjoy!

Sound appetizing? That’s the recipe for small-batch, artisanal High-Fructose Corn Syrup that artist and designer Maya Weinstein, 32, came up with after months of research, recipe testing, and ingredient sourcing for her DIY HFCS kit, her thesis project for her M.F.A. in Design and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup is the bogeyman hiding under the bed of the modern diet. It’s not all that different from table sugar, but thanks to tax laws and the economics of giant ag companies, it’s cheaper than almost any other sweetener. Fairly or not, it’s gotten pegged as a major offender in America’s wave of obesity. And even though you can find it in almost every product on the market, from soda pop to whole wheat bread, you can’t just buy HFCS by itself. Anywhere.
Everything you need to make your own HFCS.
Which is why Weinstein decided to make it herself. She visited the BA Test Kitchen yesterday to show us the end result, a one-of-a-kind (for the time being) DIY HFCS Kit, the first of what Weinstein hopes will be a series of “citizen food science” kits that let people make industrial ingredients in their home kitchens. But even just figuring out a recipe for HFCS is harder than it sounds, especially considering some of the more obscure biochemical catalysts involved.

“I emailed corn refinery associations, I cold-called some people, and got no information,” she said, but had a breakthrough after watching the 2007 documentary King Corn and reaching out to its creators, who mixed up their own batch of HFCS in the movie. Once she had a basic recipe, though, the next step was getting her hands on the ingredients.
A $50 bottle of Glucose Isomerase.
The key to turning normal corn syrup (made up mostly of glucose) into HFCS (made up mostly of, you guessed it, fructose) is the last ingredient to go into the mix, Glucose Isomerase. Not at all coincidentally, that was also the hardest to find. The tiny bottle than Weinstein brought with her to the test kitchen cost $50 by itself, and had to be ordered from Hampton Research, a professional research lab supply company. And these catalysts are the reason that Weinstein can’t add “organic” to the “small-batch artisanal” tag on her project: even if you used organic corn, most of the catalysts are genetically modified in a lab (the glucose isomerase, for instance, was made from the Streptomyces rubignosus bacterium)....MORE
Here's Maya's website.

The excesses of the artisanal movement supply one part of the amalgam:

Sometime after the dotcom bubble burst one of my senior partners came back from Seattle and announced
"I have seen the future".

Since this is the type of information I, and pretty much all of humanity, would be willing to pay for, he had my complete and laser-focused attention.

Until he continued "We will all be selling each other overpriced cups of coffee".
His meta-analysis was correct although a few years later he was forced to add the non-artisinal "Swapping overpriced real estate back-and-forth for big gains" into the mix.

Today's "Testing Small-batch Artisanal Portfolio Construction With Cliff Asness and Grantham, Mayo's James Montier" was preceded by last summer's ""Ye Olde Artisanal Stock Pickery & Son" (or "Equity investing as a luxury good") which is definitely worth a read.

And both the artisanal finance posts were inspired by the now deceased partner's observation and some of the stuff that has dropped out of the feedreaders over the years:

"The Economics of Artisanal Chocolate" (Here at Zero-bound Chocolates, We Believe...)
I'm in the Wrong Business Part 625: "$20 for a bottle of water? Your water sommelier will bring the menu right away"
Is the Future of Food Artisanal?
The Future Will be Artisanal Everything (HAIN; AHFP)
Artisanal Pencil Sharpener Considers Career Change
Questions America Wants Answered: “Should I dilute the laudanum before rubbing it on the gums of my caterwauling baby?”
Speak of the Artisinal Devil: "Hain Delivers Strong 4Q – Analyst Blog" (HAIN)
The World is Going Artisanal-- Caffeine: The Magazine

While the other and far less amusing bit-o-the-tapestry was:
"Are Alzheimer's and diabetes the same disease?" (and high fructose corn syrup does a cameo)

Not exactly Bayeaux is it?
Plus I mixed my train/thread/amalgam metaphors. Sorry.