Boffins cook up ultimate bacon sarnie

Another triumph for UK university research

Posted in Science, 10th April 2007 09:40 GMT

The UK's universities are fast forging a reputation for the kind of ground-breaking research which can only leave lesser seats of learning looking on in awe.

Indeed, hot on the heels of the Aberdeen better darts project, triumphant scientists at Leeds have cracked that most imponderable of posers: how to create the ultimate bacon sarnie.

And the answer? Simple: take two or three back bacon rashers, cook under a preheated grill for seven minutes at around 240°C and nestle between two slices of farmhouse bread around 1-2cm thick. Then eat.

In case you think this recipe is something any self-respecting undergraduate could cook up, you should know that it took four Leeds University Department of Food Science experts 1,000 hours to work their way through 700 bacon sarnie variations.

According to the BBC, in the process they tried "different types and cuts of bacon, cooking techniques, types of oil, and a range of cooking times at different temperatures", then ran a shortlist through a computer to measure the texture of each sandwich. Finally, 50 volunteers "judged each sandwich according to its taste, texture, and flavour".

Lead boffin Dr Graham Clayton, explained: "We often think it's the taste and smell of bacon that consumers find most attractive. But our research proves that texture and the crunching sound is just - if not more - important. While there was much debate within our taste panels on the smoked or unsmoked decision, everyone agreed that tough or chewy bacon is a turn-off."

Anyone wishing to verify the team's findings can avail themselves of the following formula: N = C + {fb (cm) . fb (tc)} + fb (Ts) + fc . ta, where N=force in Newtons required to break the cooked bacon, fb=function of the bacon type, fc=function of the condiment/filling effect, Ts=serving temperature, tc=cooking time, ta=time or duration of application of condiment/filling, cm=cooking method, C=Newtons required to break uncooked bacon. ®