Dundee's next Café Science 'may contain nuts'
Often maligned for the allergic reactions they can cause, the humble peanut will be the subject of Dundee’s next Café Science event.
The journey they go on from farm to fork will be discussed by Dr Jon Wilkin – Senior Food Technologist at Abertay University and Dundee’s resident peanut expert – who will also debunk a few myths surrounding the so-called monkey nut.
Beginning his career serving ice cream down in Cornwall, Jon went on to study Food Science and Technology before becoming Deputy Technical Manager at Sunscoop Products Ltd, which provided all the peanuts used to make iconic peanut butter brands such as Sunpat and Whole Earth.
Having munched his way through many hundreds of nuts – ranging from peanuts and pistachios to cashews and almonds – in order to ensure quality control, he knows a thing or two about them and will be able to explain exactly how size, shape, flavour and texture are all-important when it comes to creating the perfect packet of peanuts.
Everyone is welcome to attend the talk, but it does come with a few words of caution: Jon is unequivocally pro the peanut and will not be discussing allergies – indeed, were this event an item of food it would come with a clear warning label that says ‘this product may contain traces of nuts’
“In the UK, we consume £379 million of peanuts and nut snack products every year – and that’s not even including the nuts used in baking and in the form of peanut butter – so they’re hugely popular in spite of their reputation for causing allergies. It’s the same in the United States: 50 per cent of people eat peanut butter for breakfast there every day.
“In spite of this, there are a lot of myths surrounding peanuts. For example, although they’re often referred to as monkey nuts, they aren’t eaten by monkeys. And even though they grow in the ground and are therefore sometimes referred to as groundnuts, that’s another misnomer because peanuts aren’t actually nuts at all – they’re legumes, and belong to the same family as beans, peas and lentils.
“In order to make it into the shops for us to buy, there are quite strict standards that they have to live up to – they have to be the right shape and size, and they have to be roasted to perfection to ensure they get the right colour and flavour – tests are carried out for nasty toxins, such as Aflatoxins, which are linked with an increased likelihood of cancer.
“A lot of people don’t like peanut butter because of the texture and the way it sticks to your tongue, so in the talk I’ll also explain why this happens, how nuts get broken down in your mouth and how techniques are being developed to create new textures and new sensations when food is chewed to bring some exciting new products to the shops.”
Jon’s talk will take place at 7pm in Avery & Co, 34 South Tay Street, on Monday 29 June. The event is free and everyone is welcome. There is no need to book, but an early arrival is advised to avoid disappointment.
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