The Science of Cooking: Citrus Rocks
by Carrie Fehr
By Carrie Fehr
“If we look deeply into a flower, what do we see? Sunshine, a cloud, earth, minerals, the gardener, the complete cosmos.”-Thich Nhat Hanh
Citrus Rocks: Citrus rocks the Science of Cooking Class where fourth grade Chef Scientists explore the link between minerals that originate in the soil, to the unique role it plays on the human diet through plants, such as fruits and vegetables, along with a little history about citrus, some fun anecdotes, and a healthy recipe.
Citrus Love: With its sheer variety and profusion of colors, citrus fruit esteemed in many cultures as a symbol of happiness, is not hard to love. Even though many citrus fruits are common, there are a few lesser known examples in our harvest basket that stand out, like the wild-looking, yet extremely fragrant Buddha’s hand, or the tiny oval kumquat often classified in its own genus, though with its sweet rind and intense tart pulp–make our lips pucker, to the beloved pomelo, which is heavy like a bowling bowl, and grows on a tree that spans across the landscape up to an impressive 50 feet high. The citrus harvest basket is brimming with diverse learning opportunities that weave together its folklore, health, and environment, and imparts a sense of wonder and appreciation that inspire students to retell the citrus anecdotes from memory, throughout the year. Retelling a story is a valuable sequencing skill that supports reading comprehension and writing skills in the classroom, and is notable, since cooking classes only meet one hour a month, and in some cases, less than that. Good to the Bone: As we turn our spotlight over to the science lab, fourth graders discover that minerals come from the earth, and that humans absorb these minerals through the plants they eat. As scientists, they explore the nutrients in citrus fruit, and learn that aside from the immune boosting benefits of Vitamin C, it is chock-full of minerals that help our bones, teeth, and muscles, to name a few. And last but not least, folate, a nutrient that improves mood by raising the serotonin levels in our body, can help explain why we feel so good after eating citrus fruit.
Getting Pithy: One of the many virtues of citrus is the entire fruit is usable– the pulp, the juice, and aromatic peel, complete as nature intended, and as it turns out, is the perfect ingredient for the recipe– Fruit Roll Ups. Click here for the link to the recipe. Student chefs put their cooking skills into action using four colorful varieties of citrus fruit– the Cara Cara, Moro Blood, and Navel Oranges, along with the Satsuma Mandarin. As they section, slice, zest, peel, and juice, their way through the recipe, our chefs discover after eating the soft pulp leftover from juicing, that the hollowed out navel orange morphs into a drinking cup! Finally, we mix and match citrus vocabulary words, like pithy, zesty, and juicy in a citrus acrostic poem, where students create phrases using the concepts they learned from the Science of Cooking Class. Mindful eating, along with citrus poetry is a great ending to our class.