The Science of Good Cooking

Before returning to the farm, John worked as an agricultural engineer. From structural engineering to heat transfer and fluid dynamics, he took courses at Iowa State University that taught him about designing all parts of a building.

These skills have come in handy as we tackle building projects and handle repairs to keep things running on the farm. But they also have given John insight into cooking great food.

The scientific concepts that go into designing a heating system can also be applied to cooking an awesome hamburger.

In a series of posts, John will teach you the scientific concepts that will help you cook amazing food, without having to do the math and take the tests that went into getting his engineering degree.

Here are a few of the concepts that will be covered:

Heat Transfer

Cooking largely comes down to transferring heat from a heat source to the food. John will walk you through the three methods of heat transfer (conduction, convection, and radiant) and how you can use them to your advantage when cooking.

We’ll also go over the concepts of specific heat and volume to surface area ratios and their importance in getting things cooked well.

Diffusion, Adsorption, Emulsion

Cooking also involves combining ingredients and getting them to meld together as desired.

We’ll go through the science behind imparting flavor, getting the breading to stick on your fried chicken, and making your sauce nice and smooth.


Once some of the basic physics of cooking are understood, knowledge of how food reacts to heat and other ingredients becomes important. This is where biochemistry steps in.

While there is a lifetime’s worth of knowledge that can be learned about the intricacies of food, we’ll go over some of the basics to help you consistently cook delicious meals.

Let’s get cooking … with science

Stay tuned for more articles on the science of good cooking coming soon.

John and Sarah Gilbert farm with their family in North Central Iowa. They care for pigs, cows, and the land to bring you beef and pork you can love. They have a passion for cooking and helping others develop the skills they need to put healthy and delicious home-cooked meals on the table. They can be contacted by email and through Facebook and Instagram.