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Friday, March 18, 2011

My Science Fair Project: Part 2

...in which is revealed the Experimental Design (at last, SLIS L509 proves useful!)

To re-cap (Get it?  Cap, like mushroom caps?  Hello?  Hello???), there are several suggested methods of cleaning mushrooms: dry brushing, peeling, wiping with a damp cloth, rinsing + patting dry, rinsing + spinning dry, quick soak + patting dry, quick soak + spinning dry.  For the sake of thoroughness, I will include longer soaking even though it is uniformly not recommended.  The disasters that supposedly await improperly cleaned mushrooms include failure to remove all dirt (cleanliness), sogginess (textural issues) and loss of flavor.  And as there are already a few well-documented demonstrations debunking mushroom-washing myths for immediate cooking (which all recommend quick rinse + pat dry), I will concentrate exclusively on the effects of cleaning method on prep-ahead cooking. 

For each cleaning method, two whole button mushrooms will be cleaned, sliced, stored for 24 hours, cooked and taste-tested and quantitatively evaluated by a small but discerning panel (me and my husband).  The taste-testing will be conducted so that the tasters (at least my husband) will not know which cleaning method was used on which experimental group.  For this experiment, I define "rinsing" as being placed under cold running water and "soaking" as being placed in a bowl containing water.  A "quick rinse" will last 2 seconds, and a "quick soak" will last 2 seconds.  A "regular soak" will last 2 minutes.
  1. Two whole mushrooms will undergo a single cleaning method (no cleaning for control, brushing with a silicone brush, peeling with a paring knife, wiping with a damp paper towel, 2 second rinse + pat dry with a paper towel, 2 second rinse + spin dry in a salad spinner, 2 second soak + pat dry with a paper towel, 2 second soak + spin dry in a salad spinner, 2 minute soak + pat dry with a paper towel, 2 minute soak + spin dry in a salad spinner).   
  2. The mushrooms will be sliced after drying (if part of the cleaning method) using a mushroom slicer to insure even thickness of slices. 
  3. The mushrooms will be stored in open zip-top bags numbered 1-10 with a paper towel to strike a balance between possible condensation and possible drying out.  The mushrooms will be refrigerated to insure food safety.  A list will be made linking the experiment group numbers to the cleaning method, but will not be viewed until data analysis begins.
  4. The mushrooms will be sauteed over medium heat ('5' on my stove) for 5 minutes in olive oil. 
  5. The mushrooms will be tasted and evaluated after a 5 minute cooling period. 
  6. The results will be quantified using a 5-point Likert scale.  Each judge will award a score to each numbered sample for cleanliness of the mushroom, texture and flavor. 
  7. The result metrics will be added to give an overall score to each cleaning method.  Averages will be computed for each result category as well as for the overall performance score to determine the best cleaning method. 
  8. Qualitative preparation notes will be kept and discussed, but will not figure in the analysis of the data and determination of the preferred cleaning method.

Control Group/Variables/Constants
  • The control group will consist of two uncleaned mushrooms subjected to the above procedure. 
  • The independent variable is the cleaning method.  There will be 9 experimental groups in addition to the control group. 
  • The dependent variable is how the mushrooms look and taste after cooking. 
  • The constants are:
    • Type of mushroom (white button)
    • Method of preparation (slicing with mushroom slicer)
    • Method of storage (open zip-top bag with a paper towel in the refrigerator)
    • Method of cooking (sauteing in olive oil)
    • Serving time (5 minutes after cooking)
Data collection form to be used:

Group #CleanlinessTextureFlavorOverall
Strongly DislikeSomewhat Dislike NeutralSomewhat likeStrongly like

Oy...this is just as tedious as I remembered.  Next installment will have...duh-duhduh-daahh!...Results and Analysis, and maybe even Discussion and a Conclusion (whenever I get the chance to actually do this LOL) Pin It

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