• Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

Activated Charcoal Use In Culinary: Paint It Black!

We can accept black as a noble and beautiful color. But the area and the way of use is the most important factor as always. With popular culture, marketing strategies, and of course its benefits, society has witnessed the distribution of black to different environments. Not just being a color, also the activated charcoal tone of black in almost every area of life. We already know that activated charcoal use in cosmetics through advertisements. Starting with black toothpastes and black face masks, it didn’t take long for it to settle in our kitchen. Activated charcoal use in culinary became one of the latest trends that being shared on social media every day.

What is “activated charcoal” and why is it so in demand?

We can explain it as a type of coal, but unlike the ones we know, activated charcoal is carbon with added oxygen that increases its porosity. And it is obtained from coconut shell and other plant-based materials. This type of coal, which has an absorbent feature, was already using as cleaning material because it provides more hygiene. And its use in medicine also known by majority. It is an effective substance especially in bee and insect stings as it absorbs venom. Since it has “zero calories”, it has started to take its place in culinary cultures for visual purposes, just like food coloring. It has no other function rather than giving color to the food because it does not have any taste.

Where does this black/darkness come from?

Besides the black foods obtained from bamboo charcoal, cuttlefish, almond charcoal, there is also organic black foods. For this reason, we need to divide black foods and beverages into 2 categories. The first group is natural substances such as black garlic which is a fermented version of regular garlic and black rice as a genetically unmodified food. The second group is foods such as black hamburgers, lemonades, and black croissants made from materials such as bamboo charcoal. Even if they differ from each other in terms of substances, it does not change the demand for these visually striking foods. And we can say that the “black” builds curiosity and appetite appeal if we consider the effect of colors on human psychology.

If we give examples about best-known products of this trend, Squid Ink Pasta and other foods containing squid ink are the first ones. Because squid ink contains high antioxidants and it slows the growth of cancer cells. Those black foods for similar reasons and with their color,are seem very fascinating for consumers. A 30 cm long black hot dog is one of the most popular fast food in Tokyo nowadays and it emphasizes the situation. Besides these, we can see other attractive food and drinks such as  Gelato that gets its color from black sesame, ice-cream colored with coconut shell, charcoal sourdough bread, margarita with added black sanding sugar, and black lemonade made from activated charcoal. These dishes ceased to be just a new trend in the gastronomy and gradually settled in our own kitchen.

Activated Charcoal for Health

Although it’s use became more and more widespread, research on whether it is beneficial or harmful is still a claim. And has not yet come across a proven or published conclusive result. It is known that activated carbon is good for filtering toxins, poisoning, diarrhea caused by bacteria, kidney disorders and oral health. But these kinds of information are of course not enough for us to call it “healthy” alone. There is no scientific evidence in the literature yet, also there is no information that it is harmful. It continues to be used as a visual enhancer and maintains its bright place in the field of gastronomy. But anyways it is important to consume it in moderation.

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