The Art of Culinary Maths


As long as I can remember I have been that geek that loves Mathematics!  All the accolades go to my dad who literally cultivated this fetishism for arithmetic. He extended himself and gave me this part of me that adds to my persona. I love problem solving and number crunching, it is an absolute muse. I have quite a vivid memory of him making counters with bedside reeds in my first grade. We did it so meticulously and the best part is that it was such a memorable and enjoyable experience. Dad took it further to painting and decorating our counters, I had no choice but to fall in love with maths. He made it fun and so easy; I had the prettiest counters in my class, handmade cardboard clock, shapes and blocks. I had a fire in me, to make my dad proud and this is how I excelled in the subject.

So, this brings us to cooking and math, as they are two relative variables in every kitchen!

  • Temperature and Time

Telling time and adjusting temperature are important math skills that factor into the kitchen. Recipes require different periods of time, so cooks need to set a timer and monitor food accordingly. Furthermore, temperature adjustment is also very important. Cooking a variety of dishes requires different temperature intensity between reducing and increasing to the appropriate heat.

  • Fractions, Proportions, Ratio and Geometry

An understanding of fractions is crucial to cooking. Aside from measuring ingredients, the use of fractions also impacts serving size. For example, if a recipe claims to serve eight people, but you are only serving four, the cook must be able to divide the entire recipe in half. It is a basic culinary requisite to divide whole numbers as well as fractions. Geometry is used in the presentation of food and baking. For example, if a cook is creating a fancy layer cake, the use of rectangles, squares and circles may be necessary. There is an art in arranging food onto a plate and using diverse shapes to make food aesthetically pleasing.

The quantities of ingredients are measured in specific proportions and ratios. Using math to figure out proportions and ratios is important in cooking to avoid kitchen mishaps, cooking disasters and ultimately creating beautiful magic. I remember one time I interchangeably used sugar and flour to make cupcakes and totally messed up the consistency. My cupcakes where bubbling like caramel in the oven. Oops!

  • Nutritional Data

The hallmark of good cooking is incorporating healthy food and balanced meals. So, it is important to be aware of the nutritional value of the meals that you prepare, such as the knowledge of calories, fat, sugar and sodium for the everyday food consumption. Use the nutritional information on fresh and packaged foods as a guideline to make balanced meals. In addition, calorie, sodium and fat vary depending on dissimilar individuals. Knowing the dietary requirements of those you are cooking for allows you to create an appropriate menu using nutritional calculations.

Do not lose heart in your kitchen expeditions as the math that comes with cooking is pretty simple and also fun. I believe that experiment is the best teacher and sometimes as long as the food is edible, that is good enough. There are helpful tools, such as measuring cups, spoons and scales, to aid in food preparation and correct measurements.  The mantra is we cook and learn and that is how we master the chef.






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6 thoughts on “The Art of Culinary Maths”

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Moira Mawuru

A Business Finance professional and an impeccable self-taught chef.

I am a mom of two who enjoys cooking and learning about food ,aspires to be the next best chef, and would like to share simple recipes and meal ideas.

Moira Mawuru

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