Steamy Standing Time: How Food Size Impacts Carryover Cooking *
|Time Required||Average (6-10 days)|
|Material Availability||Readily available|
|Cost||Low ($20 - $50)|
|Safety||Adult supervision is required when using the oven.|
Abstract"What? My food needs some standing time? How can food stand? I don't see any legs on those baked potatoes!" Whether you're using a traditional oven or a microwave, standing time is an important concept in cooking or baking. When you remove a food from an oven or a microwave, the food retains heat and continues to cook for several minutes after it has been removed from the heat source. This process of the food continuing to cook, using the retained heat in the food itself, is called carryover cooking. It is the reason why many recipes call for standing time. The carryover cooking that occurs during standing time causes the internal temperature of the food to rise several degrees and allows for the temperature to become more equalized throughout the food. How much carryover cooking is possible depends upon the size of the food, its density, its heat capacity (ability to retain heat), and how hot its internal temperature is when you remove it from the oven. Foods that are high in water have a high heat capacity, and therefore, are excellent at carryover cooking. Thus, failure to allow for standing time results in food that is overdone.
In this cooking and food science project, you will explore how much the size of the food relates to its final internal temperature. You will roast different sizes of the same type of meat to the same internal temperature, remove them from the oven, and measure and record their internal temperature every few seconds over several minutes, using an electric probe or instant-read oven thermometer placed in the center of the roast, avoiding any bone. How much does the volume of the roast impact the amount of carryover cooking that can be achieved? What about the surface-area-to-volume ratio (or "compactness" of the roast)? Does that impact how much carryover cooking is possible, as well? As another variation, you could see how different types of foods with different densities, but the same volume are affected by carryover cooking.
Figure 1. This cartoon shows a roast experiencing carryover cooking outside the oven with an instant read thermometer in its center. (USDA, 2006.)
Cite This PageGeneral citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.
Last edit date: 2017-07-28
This source offers a discussion of standing time in microwave ovens:
- USDA. (2006, July 26). Microwave Ovens and Food Safety. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/appliances-and-thermometers/microwave-ovens-and-food-safety/ct_index
This source shows how to place a thermometer in meat, avoiding the bone:
- USDA. (2006, December 15). Proper Thermometer Placement. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/teach-others/fsis-educational-campaigns/thermy/proper-thermometer-placement/ct_index
News Feed on This Topic
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Materials Scientist and EngineerWhat makes it possible to create high-technology objects like computers and sports gear? It's the materials inside those products. Materials scientists and engineers develop materials, like metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites, that other engineers need for their designs. Materials scientists and engineers think atomically (meaning they understand things at the nanoscale level), but they design microscopically (at the level of a microscope), and their materials are used macroscopically (at the level the eye can see). From heat shields in space, prosthetic limbs, semiconductors, and sunscreens to snowboards, race cars, hard drives, and baking dishes, materials scientists and engineers make the materials that make life better. Read more
Food Scientist or TechnologistThere is a fraction of the world's population that doesn't have enough to eat or doesn't have access to food that is nutritionally rich. Food scientists or technologists work to find new sources of food that have the right nutrition levels and that are safe for human consumption. In fact, our nation's food supply depends on food scientists and technologists that test and develop foods that meet and exceed government food safety standards. If you are interested in combining biology, chemistry, and the knowledge that you are helping people, then a career as a food scientist or technologist could be a great choice for you! Read more
Food Science TechnicianGood taste, texture, quality, and safety are all very important in the food industry. Food science technicians test and catalog the physical and chemical properties of food to help ensure these aspects. Read more
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity
Explore Our Science Videos
4 Easy Robot Science Projects for Kids
10 Robotics Projects Kids Can Really Make!
Toy Sailboat with Keel