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Food Chemistry Basics

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Food is full of chemistry. In this course you will learn the basic (food) chemistry fundamentals you need to apply chemistry to food.

Why learn more about Food Chemistry?

A lot of fascinating phenomenon in food are chemical in nature. In order to explain the colors of tomatoes, why a bread turns brown in the oven, and why acid ‘cooks’ fish in a ceviche, you’ll use chemistry to explain what’s going on. Once you have a basic understanding of the core chemistry principles in food, a whole new world will open up to help you trouble shoot problems in your process. Once you know why things happen, it will be so much easier to tackle them.

This is why we set up this Food Chemistry Basics course. This course provides you with the fundamentals of chemistry you need to find your way around in the world of food chemistry.

Why take this course?

Finding a good place to learn more about food chemistry can be challenging. It is mostly taught in universities or colleges and can take up a lot of your time and resources.

We developed this course to be a very accessible version of an introduction to food chemistry. You can follow it at your own pace, and it only takes a couple of hours. Of course, it’s not a replacement for a full-blown university class, but, it does provide you with an excellent starting point to really dig into the field.

This course is the right fit for you if…

  1. You’ve always been curious about how your food works;
  2. Your high school chemistry classes feel like a very long time ago (or you never had them in the first place);
  3. You have a broad interest in food, you’re not just interested in one specific phenomenon/product;
  4. You want to see how all that you’re learning in school is going to be useful in the real world.

If you have had extensive chemistry training already, this course is probably not the best for you. We will really focus on the basics, so you’ll likely know everything already. You might be more interested in our advanced and applied courses on ice cream and cake for instance.

What will you learn?


We start with atoms …

Atoms are the building blocks of everything around us, so are a good place to start. We’ll give you a refresher on what again atoms are and which ones are most important in food. This is what starts to set us apart from your basic chemistry classes, we won’t discuss atoms that aren’t that relevant in our food (and drinks), so no need to memorize the whole periodic system by heart!

anthocyanin structure, source Wikipedia

… then build our molecules

By combining atoms together we can start building molecules. We will look at how that works and the language chemists use to describe these molecules.

Again, we look at those molecules most important in food and we’ll give some special attention to carbohydrates, fat and proteins. Don’t worry, we won’t dig into diets and nutritional advice (that’s not our expertise), instead, we’ll just tell you what they actually are!

collapsed cake

… which react!

Chemistry really starts to become fun and interesting when all those molecules and building blocks start reacting. This is what transforms your food while cooking or producing it! We’ll have a sneak peak at chemical reactions.

Structure of the Course

This course consists of several text-based modules. You will not find videos, you will find images and photos to help support your learning. In between sessions there are several quizzes. These quizzes help you test whether you actually understood what you just read about, helping you to become an active participant in the course.

Yes, even tomatoes are full of chemistry 🙂


For who is this course?

This course is for beginners with limited background (e.g. only a few classes in school) in chemistry and who want to learn how chemistry applies to food!

I am a chemist by training, will this training teach me something new?

In all honesty, probably not! This course focuses on the basics. However, if your chemistry expertise is focused on the field of inorganic chemistry there’s a chance the later sections focusing on food application may be of interest.

Can I find all this information on your blog?

A lot (not all) of this content is also published on our main website. However, it is spread over several individual articles. You will have to piece them together in the right order. The advantage of taking this course is that we bring it all together for a more holistic overview. Also, we have quizzes to help you test your knowledge!

Do I have to pass the quizzes?

You will not receive an official certificate of this course. As such, you are free to take the quizzes or not. We believe those quizzes really help to understand the material and prevent you from skimming through.

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We love Food + Science! You may find us experimenting and learning why oranges are orange, why bread rises, or why there's a hole in coffee packaging. We want to know 'why' and love sharing knowledge! We write about food science on Here, on FoodCrumbles - Courses we offer comprehensive courses to help you in your food science journey.