John Ueland
John Ueland

11 (Mostly) Inedible Ingredients Photographers Use to Get Food Ready for Its Close-Up

John Ueland
John Ueland

Looking at the cover of your favorite cookbook or food magazine, it's hard for your mouth not to water. Unless, of course, you know what sort of decidedly non-tasty "ingredients" go into making your favorite foods camera-ready. Here are 11 of them.

1. GLUE

Milk makes cereal soggy, but those corn flakes will stay crunchy when bathed in white glue. Yogurt or shampoo will also do the trick.

2. COTTON BALLS

A piping hot dish looks tasty when steam is billowing, but it’s hard to maintain. As a fix, photographers will soak a cotton ball or tampon in water, microwave it, and then hide it in the frame to create that smoky effect.

3. SHOE POLISH

A tin of shoe polish
iStock

Most meat products aren’t cooked because they shrivel. Instead, steaks and burgers are seared with a blowtorch. Grill marks are added with a branding iron, and shoe polish or varnish creates a succulent sheen.

4. AND 5. CARDBOARD AND TOOTHPICKS

Prop burgers are supported with layers of cardboard, while toothpicks or pins keep the garnishes in place.

6. GLYCERIN

If a product looks cold or icy, it’s likely covered in glycerin. A sugar alcohol, glycerin subs in for condensation on shoots, making the sweat on beer bottles and the moisture on salads.

7. DISH SOAP

A sink full of dish soap and bubbles
iStock

Soda needs lots of bubbles. A little antacid tablet typically gets the stuff churning, while dish soap creates larger surface bubbles.

8. HAIRSPRAY

That delicious bunch of grapes has a matte look because it’s coated in hairspray.

9. MOTOR OIL

Pancakes absorb syrup like a sponge. To prevent this, food stylists will coat a stack of flapjacks with aerosol fabric protector. And since maple syrup isn’t as appetizing under bright lights, some photographers prefer motor oil.

10. PAPER TOWELS

Several rolls of paper towels
iStock

Ice cream syrup tends to droop, so photographers cut out pieces of paper towel, lay them onto the ice cream, and then cover the patches with syrup, which stays in place.

11. MASHED POTATOES

Speaking of ice cream, which melts under hot lights: mashed potatoes are dyed different colors and then shaped into scoops to look like they came from a creamery. Taters are also injected to plump up roasts and baked into pies to prevent slices from falling apart.

A version of this story appeared in Mental Floss magazine.

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Kenmore
Kenmore's New Stand Mixer Might Whip the KitchenAid Classic
Kenmore
Kenmore

A KitchenAid stand mixer has long been a home baker's best friend. It out-mixes, -kneads, and -beats most of its competitors, all while looking gorgeous on a kitchen countertop. But in the Kenmore Ovation, the iconic stand mixer may have finally met its match. According to Reviewed, the Kenmore product rivals the KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart mixer in terms of performance and design.

The elements of the two stand mixers are basically the same: Both come with three standard attachments—a flat beater, a dough hook, and a wire whisk. The Ovation is heavier than a KitchenAid, which means it doesn't scoot across your counter when it's working dense bread dough. It also takes just as much time to prepare heavy and chunky doughs in an Ovation as it does in a KitchenAid.

Hand pouring milk into a stand mixer.
Kenmore

Kenmore's product also offers some special features that the KitchenAid doesn't have. Instead of struggling to pour ingredients down the side of the bowl while it sits beneath the mixer, you can add them through the Ovation's patented pour-in hole on top of the machine. And the Ovation's glass bowl comes with a 360-degree splash guard that keeps your kitchen and your clothes flour- and batter-free as you mix.

The Ovation does have a few drawbacks: The six-pound glass bowl is hard to move around, as is the 30-pound mixer itself if you ever want to relocate it. But if you're looking for a sturdier stand mixer option, you can purchase the Kenmore Ovation for $350 to $400. Or you can stick with the classics and finally take home that KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart mixer you've been dreaming of: It's currently on sale at Amazon for $240.

[h/t Reviewed]

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TASCHEN
Everything You Need to Know About Food in One Book
TASCHEN
TASCHEN

If you find yourself mixing up nigiri and sashimi at sushi restaurants or don’t know which fruits are in season, then this is the book for you. Food & Drink Infographics, published by TASCHEN, is a colorful and comprehensive guide to all things food and drink.

The book combines tips and tricks with historical context about the ways in which different civilizations illustrated and documented the foods they ate, as well as how humans went from hunter-gatherers to modern-day epicureans. As for the infographics, there’s a helpful graphic explaining the number of servings provided by different cake sizes, a heat index of various chilies, a chart of cheeses, and a guide to Italian cold cuts, among other delectable charts.

The 480-page coffee table book, which can be purchased on Amazon for $56, is written in three languages: English, French, and German. The infographics themselves come from various sources, and the text is provided by Simone Klabin, a New York City-based writer and lecturer on film, art, culture, and children’s media.

Keep scrolling to see a few of the infographics featured in the book.

An infographic about cheese
TASCHEN

An infographic about cakes
Courtesy of TASCHEN

An infographic about fruits in season
Courtesy of TASCHEN

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