Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Briefing

Some days ago I noted that 3 cookies left on my desk since 3 months ago are still "fresh", and by that I mean... not spongy like some cookies that get soft after some time outside.
However this particular brand of cookies do get spongy, I'm not sure why don't these do!

I also noted that there is a cockroaches/flies infestation in a home nearby, so these are getting in my house, but none of those insects dare to eat the cookies.

So, I decided to make an experiment inspired in the well known experiment of Watermelon vs McDonalds Burger where a watermelon decomposes extremely quick, and the burger does not. This article even mentions one that hasn't decomposed after two decades!
I understand that watermelon decomposes so fast mainly because of the sugar/water that it contains, but that is another story, let me tell you what I want to do.

Problem

In this experiment the only notable variables taken into account were: Visual appearance (picture), and time.

For my cookies I want to do a similar experiment, but I want to know which variables should I consider, so far I only have these in mind, but I want to know what else can be considered for food products:

  • Date of packaging
  • "Best before" date label
  • Visual appearance (daily pics)
  • Time gone by before going spongy
  • Humidity of room (3 daily measures across the day)
  • Temperature of room (3 daily measures across the day)

And the samples will be:

  • Being in a closed room (eg. my room)
  • Being in an open room (eg. dinning room)
  • Exposing to insects directly (eg. roaches, ants, flies)
  • Adding a drop of "morning saliva" (mainly for the bacteria)

Question is

In general, what do I need for food experiments? I think these are OK, but maybe I'm overdoing it on some, and maybe I need to consider some other parameters.
My experiment's objective is to see if it decomposes, why does it take X time to do so, or why doesn't it decompose at all, if it is safe to eat, or if it shenanigans like McBurgers.

share|improve this question

migrated from academia.stackexchange.com Aug 24 '13 at 3:36

This question came from our site for academics and those enrolled in higher education.

3  
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a specific experiment - possibly better suited to Biology.SE –  user3795 Aug 24 '13 at 0:47
    
Agreed. This question is off topic for Academia, which deals with the academic profession, not questions related to academic studies! –  aeismail Aug 24 '13 at 3:35
    
Thanks for the clarification. –  Goodwine Aug 24 '13 at 23:14
add comment

1 Answer 1

You could weigh the cookies in a time course to see how quickly the cookies are degraded. Also, you could take some samples and make cultures in Petri dishes to see if there are differences in the microbiota associated with each one. In this line, maybe you'd want to sterilize the samples by some means, just to ensure they have the same microbial conditions. You could also measure the porosity of the samples by pacing them in water and measure how much water it can absorb, or something like that. I assume you do not have an HPLC engine, but you could also make extracts and see how the spectra varies over time.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.