Archive for May 2017

by Morgen Jahnke

One of the central paradoxes of scientific research and technological development is that while every new discovery brings previously unknown possibilities to light, these discoveries can also have negative effects that may not be readily apparent. For example, certain medicines may provide exciting new treatment options, but it’s only later that their side effects come to light. One of the most glaring examples of this was the thalidomide scandal in the late 1950s, when thousands of women took this drug to combat morning sickness during pregnancy, and it was later found to cause birth defects. Similarly, in the 19th century, opium was thought of as a cure-all before its highly addictive nature was fully understood.

Along the same lines, Marie Sklodowska Curie’s discovery of the element radium in 1898 at first seemed to lead the way to a variety of novel medical treatments, but as the properties of radioactive materials became better known, radium’s health benefits came to seem more limited. Once added to everything from toothpaste to face cream, radium’s reputation went from cutting edge to dangerous within a few short decades.

The Element of Surprise
Marie Curie’s eventual discovery of radium was first set into motion by the research of French physicist Henri Becquerel, who noticed that materials containing uranium produced rays that fogged photographic plates. Looking into this phenomenon further, Marie Curie found that not only uranium, but also the element thorium, caused these effects regardless of their physical state (for example, dry or wet, crushed or solid), and from this deduced that the rays were part of the elements’ atomic makeup. She coined the word “radioactivity” to describe this property of these two elements, and along with other scientists of the time, opened the way to a new understanding that the atom was not the smallest unit of matter, but that even smaller particles (notably electrons) existed within it.

Building on this information, and on her observation that two uranium-containing compounds, pitchblende and chalcolite, produced much more radiation than uranium alone, Marie Curie speculated that there were other, as yet unknown, elements in these compounds. After extensive experimentation, aided by her husband Pierre Curie, Marie Curie was able to identify two new elements in pitchblende, which she called polonium (after her native Poland), and radium (after the Latin word for “ray”). Although the process of isolating radium involved processing a ton of pitchblende in order to obtain just a fraction of a gram of radium, even with similar levels of effort, the Curies found that it was impossible to isolate polonium. Later on, when the principle of radioactive decay was developed, scientists realized that the short half-life of polonium—138 days—was the reason for this problem.

Radium Reign
With the help of industrial partners who could produce radium much more quickly in their processing facilities than it was possible to do in the lab, the Curies began to develop new uses for this marvelous material. However, the Curies never became rich because of their discovery, but as a service to the scientific community and the rest of the world, freely shared their method of obtaining radium. One of the first uses of radium was as an anti-cancer treatment, owing to its observed ability to damage tissue. The resulting treatment, known as Curietherapy in France, and radiumtherapy elsewhere, is still used in some instances to treat cancer today.

However, as with any health fad, there are those who take it too far, usually for financial gain. Because radium was seen as providing health benefits in one area, its use was expanded to other areas for which there was no proven benefit. This was especially the case in the 1920s, when advertising campaigns for face creams with names such as Tho-Radia and Radior claimed that “the amazing Energy of Radium has proved a boon to the human skin.” What purchasers of these products didn’t realize was that the “glow” they were seeking was not necessarily the kind they would actually receive.

Losing Its Glow
In fact, the luminescent property of radium was precisely what made it attractive to manufacturers of clocks, watches, and other technical instruments, for whom its glow-in-the-dark ability was commercially advantageous. However, the use of radium-based paints for such applications was eventually found to be extremely dangerous, after many workers exposed to the paint died from the effects of radiation.

The growing awareness of radium’s toxicity made it seem less and less suited to general use, and when Marie Curie died in 1934, it was speculated that her exposure to radiation played a part in her death. Scientists now know that radium damages bone marrow particularly, because the body treats it as calcium, depositing it in the bones and providing it easy access to the marrow.

Although the benefits of radium fall far short of what it was once believed it could do, with careful handling radium still proves useful in medical treatment and scientific research. In addition, the story of its discovery is inspiring and laid the groundwork for many other important advances in science. But the next time you hear something being praised as a miracle cure-all, remember that the truth may be more complicated than it seems.—Morgen Jahnke

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More Information about The Discovery of Radium…

To learn more about the life and work of Marie and Pierre Curie, visit the Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity Web site or timelinescience.

If you’re ever in Paris, I highly recommend a visit to the Musée Curie, where you can see the actual office and lab used by Marie Curie in her later experiments.

For more information about radium, go to the Los Alamos National Lab Web site, the Jefferson Lab Web site, or ChemiCool.

It’s possible to see advertisements for Radior and Tho-Radia online.

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Part 4 The Pregnancy ….

This is a continuation from Part 1Part 2 & Part 3 of my journal / journey through the IVF process & the thoughts that go with it.

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The Pregnancy thing

A normal pregnancy is difficult enough but with a twin one, everything gets twice as big twice as fast, and that’s not just the mum! 2 cots / 2 car seats / twice as many vests / nappies to buy in bulk to stock up. House extensions bedroom / nursery move round.

The IVF thing

Something they don’t tell you but I’ve now found is really common is the disconnect for the man in an IVF pregnancy.  I really struggled to come to terms with the fact I didn’t feel part of this at all, I was all over the 1st one, went to all the scans, had every scan picture blu-tacked to my PC screen at work, felt every kick.

With the IVF pregnancy, I didn’t feel the urge for any of that, was it just because it wasn’t the first-born? Is everyone like this on the second pregnancy or was something deeper happening? I struggled with this for several months. Combined with being in the middle of a massive project at work meant the first scan I attended was almost at the end of the 2nd trimester.

It was only after talking to a men’s IVF group I found it was almost “normal” some found that after the first scan they connected or for some it was even at the birth when it finally clicked into place.

It essentially comes down to the notion that you had nothing to do with the creation of this child / children, the mother still carries for 9 months as normal and has that symbiotic bonding time, where as a father, you almost had zero part to play in it all. The entire decision-making process taken away from you. You have done no more that sign a piece of paper and nip to the loo for a couple of minutes.

So here we go just days left and the world changes again!

PoBz

(Father of 1 & Expectant Father of another 2 with very little hair / sanity left)

The restaurants of America—especially those of the fast-food variety—have come under attack for, among other things, making portion sizes much too large. This, nutritionists say, is one of the main causes of obesity. But I think the biggest problem with large portions is that they make it that much harder for patrons to leave room for dessert. I believe deeply in dessert, and few things cause me as much grief as arriving at the end of a meal only to discover I’m so full that I couldn’t possibly consider even one wafer-thin mint. A sad state of affairs indeed.

Being the sort of snob I am when it comes to French food, I have a special fondness for dishes—especially desserts—that are decadent, inventive, and spelled with an excessive number of accent marks. I can’t think of any dessert that fits that description better than crème brûlée. All things being equal, I usually prefer desserts that have a high chocolate content, but I do make occasional exceptions. What crème brûlée lacks in chocolate it makes up for in fat, calories, and general impressiveness.

Don’t Cry Over Burnt Cream
Crème brûlée (literally “burnt cream”) begins its short life as a custard—a sweetened mixture of cream and egg yolks that’s heated until it thickens. It’s then usually poured into shallow, single-serving ceramic dishes called ramekins and chilled until it becomes firm. But unlike similar custard dishes such as flan and crème caramel, crème brûlée undergoes an extra finishing step. The top surface is sprinkled with sugar and then subjected to intense heat for a few seconds to caramelize it, thus forming a thin, crispy crust.

Although it is possible to use a broiler as the source of heat, the results tend to be uneven, and the inside of the crème brûlée often warms up, which is not the desired effect. So professional chefs typically use a blowtorch to melt the sugar, creating a nicely browned surface. Another approach requires a tool called a salamander that consists of a heavy metal disk attached to a long handle. After heating the disk over a burner, you place it on (or just above) the sugar to caramelize it.

What makes a crème brûlée’s crust special, though, is not just its appearance but its sound. When I hear the distinctive “snap” of a spoon breaking through the crust of a well-made crème brûlée to reveal the creamy goodness underneath, I always smile and sigh as though I’ve witnessed something magical. If Bernard Pivot (or James Lipton) asked me what sound or noise I love, that would be the first thing I’d think of. It’s just one of those things.

Pass the Torch
If you happen to have a conventional propane torch lying around your workshop, that will do just fine for crème brûlée, as long as you’re careful to use properly heat- and flame-resistant dishes. But most crème brûlée enthusiasts prefer a more compact (and less scary-looking) butane kitchen torch, which can be found at respectable cooking stores for about US$40. That may seem like a costly tool for just a single recipe, but it can be used to add a finishing touch to many kinds of desserts, not to mention searing tuna steaks and defrosting your freezer. And it’s a small price to pay to impress your friends.

As for my chocolate obsession, there’s nothing to say I can’t have my crème and eat it too: people can and do sometimes make chocolate crème brûlée. I’ve also had some excellent lavender crème brûlée, and I’ve seen recipes for many other flavors—including pumpkin and ginger. But although I don’t consider myself a purist, I must admit that the simple and elegant combination of eggs, cream, sugar, and vanilla works best for me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go burn my dessert. —Joe Kissell

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More Information about Crème Brûlée…

[[http://rcm-images.amazon.com/images/P/1580630081.01.TZZZZZZZ][http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=itotd-20&path=tg/detail/-/1580630081][Elegantly Easy Crème Brûlée by Debbie Puente is the bible of Crème Brûlée. Debbie also runs the Web site (you guessed it) CremeBrulee.com.]]

Here are some “classic” crème brûlée recipes…

…and some unconventional flavors:

cover art

Amazon.com carries a wide range of kitchen torches, ramekins, and crème brûlée sets containing everything but the ingredients.

Other sources for torches and/or ramekins:

You can buy a salamander from Sur La Table or Kitchen Conservatory.

Mark Glass’s Creme Brulee Quest has convinced him that the world’s finest crème brûlée can be found at San Francisco’s Hayes Street Grill. I’ve also received a hearty recommendation for the Crème Brûlée at Jimmy Z Grill in Irvine, California.

Bernard Pivot (and later, James Lipton) asked his guests 10 questions that he felt revealed a great deal about them.

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In the early 1990s, magazine articles and television shows in Great Britain and the United States ran a series of stories about an incredible new invention: a type of plastic that could withstand virtually any amount of heat. The material’s properties confounded scientists, but even more amazing was that its creator, Maurice Ward, had no academic credentials—he was, in fact, a former hairdresser from North Yorkshire, England. Ward saw a news story about how most of the deaths in an airplane accident had been caused by the toxic fumes from burning plastics. Having spent time working on new formulations for shampoo and conditioner in his home laboratory, he decided to try his hand at concocting a more flame-retardant plastic, and after a series of experiments that ran from 1986 to 1989, he came up with a formula that seemed to be impervious to any sort of heat. His granddaughter suggested that he call the stuff “Starlite.”

That’s Hot
Ward’s initial attempts to interest chemical companies in his new product were entirely unsuccessful; no one took the outrageous claims of this amateur inventor seriously. Then a respectable defense journal published the results of several tests by government agencies. The tests showed, among other things, that a thin piece of Starlite wouldn’t burn even when subjected to temperatures as high as 10,000°C—that’s hotter than the surface of the sun. The material withstood even simulated nuclear blasts and high-powered lasers. That journal article, and others that followed it, began to generate a great deal of interest in Starlite, especially in the defense industry.

One particularly striking quality of Starlite was that it didn’t merely fail to combust; it also insulated astonishingly well. In a demonstration on a BBC television show called “Tomorrow’s World” in 1993, the presenter held a welder’s blowtorch to an egg that had been coated with an invisibly thin layer of Starlite. After several minutes the flame was removed, and the egg was broken to reveal that it was still raw on the inside. In another demonstration, this time on NBC’s “Dateline” in the United States, a piece of Starlite was shown to be cool enough to touch just seconds after exposure to a blowtorch.

Burning Questions
At the time of all this publicity, the only questions seemed to be which company or government agency would get the rights to manufacture Starlite and how many billions of dollars Ward would receive in return. It would only be a matter of time before Starlite was commercialized in some form…spacecraft would have inexpensive, lightweight, and super-durable heat shields; devastating building fires could be made a thing of the past; everything from home appliances and furniture to missiles would be revolutionized by this miraculous heatproof material.

But then something weird happened: nothing. After a few years of relative silence, some vague reports circulated that Ward was actively working with several different manufacturers on the commercial development of Starlite, and also that Ward’s primary interest had recently turned to harness racing, of all things. And since then, there have been no reliable news reports about Starlite or Ward. A 2004 article about Starlite in The Guardian noted that nothing new had been heard since 1997 and ended with the unanswered question: “But whatever happened to Starlite?”

As a matter of fact, it’s not entirely true that nothing has happened since 1997. Maurice Ward is the registrant of starlitetechnologies.com, a site that from roughly 2004 to 2007 did contain useful information about Starlite, such as links to media reports and lists of potential applications. In 2006, a page on the site said: “Delayed for more than 15 years by red tape and incubation in private industry, Starlite has found a second chance to come to market through an alliance with Chris Bennett, an entrepreneur in Austin, Texas.” So far, there’s no sign that this alliance has gone anywhere. The current version of the site has a single page with virtually no information. But at least Ward, who would now be in his early seventies, is doing something with Starlite—even if that’s just fiddling with a Web site!

Curiously, though, it isn’t just Ward’s Web site that has been purged of information about Starlite. Several other sites I consulted also appeared to have gone offline or at least had articles removed in the last year or so. Thanks to resources such as the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, I was able to retrieve a number of these articles as they’d appeared in the past, but the sudden disappearance of all this content does get one thinking.

Flame On
Naturally, conspiracy theories abound. Some people suspect that the U.S. or British government has decided that Starlite should be classified, and has taken steps to suppress all public information about it—or that some huge corporation or foreign power has bought out Ward and is trying to keep things quiet to prevent espionage and competition. Others are convinced that the only possible reason Starlite was never commercialized is that it was an elaborate hoax all along.

My own research suggests that the real explanation is much more prosaic. Given the large number of well-documented tests by agencies of various governments and first-hand reports from numerous scientists and engineers, I have no doubt at all that Starlite’s claimed properties are genuine, notwithstanding the inventor’s background. Back in 1993, reports were that Ward refused to consider any deal for commercial production of Starlite that didn’t involve his maintaining at least 51% ownership—and clearly, he has always believed that his invention was worth billions. At the same time, Ward was hyperprotective of his intellectual property. He declined all requests to provide samples for testing that might enable a company to analyze the substance and potentially discover its composition. He never patented it, either, because doing so would require him to reveal his formula. As of the early 1990s, at least, Ward refused even to allow the formula to be written down; only he and a couple of family members knew it, and it was kept only in their heads. That’s hard-core: not even the recipes for Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken are that secret!

In fairness to Ward, his invention is undoubtedly worth a fortune, and he has every right to protect his own interests. However, some have argued that if Starlite is everything it’s cracked up to be, its potential to save lives is so great that it would be ethically wrong to prevent its manufacture just for the sake of a bit more profit. Interestingly, a page on the starlitetechnologies.com Web site in 2006 said: “As a humanitarian, Ward wants to see his invention used for the public good.” That could very well be true; my take on the matter is that financial greed probably isn’t the issue so much as a relentless desire to maintain control. Sooner or later, if it really is all about the public good—and if no technical or manufacturing issues make large-scale production of Starlite infeasible—Starlite is bound to see the light of day. Of course, its success also depends on having a manufacturer and distributor with some wisdom and savvy, qualities that are sometimes difficult for the best of us to judge.

Hot Property
But “sooner or later” isn’t good enough for everyone. More than one person has tried to steal Ward’s formula, and numerous large organizations are rumored to have spent vast sums of money trying to replicate it themselves. Ward himself provided a few clues to Starlite’s composition, which may have given competitors a good place to start. According to the article in International Defense Review that started all the publicity, “It consists of a variety of (organic) polymers and co-polymers with both organic and inorganic additives, including borates and small quantities of ceramics and other special barrier ingredients—up to 21 in all. Perhaps uniquely for a thermal and blast-proof material, it is not wholly inorganic but up to 90 per cent organic.” Ward also mentioned that it could be mixed in an ordinary blender. Following what sounds like a similar recipe, Canadian inventor Troy Hurtubise has created his own heat-resistant product, which he calls firepaste. It appears to have many of the same characteristics as Starlite—it’s resistant not only to fire but to commercialization, and is shrouded in similar secrecy.

I truly hope Starlite turns into a real, commercial product, that it lives up to its hype, that it serves the public good, and that it makes Maurice Ward a wealthy man. And I hope it happens while he still has a few years left to enjoy that wealth. If not, well, best of luck to Troy and to all those evil government conspirators out there. —Joe Kissell

UPDATE #1 (January 23, 2008): I received an interesting email from Don Schnell, who related the following (reprinted with permission):

In the [late] 1990s, I and a partner from Calgary formed a company named Starlite Safety Solutions to market Maurice’s product. We brought Maurice to Calgary and introduced him to a group of investors and pitched several proposals for marketing his product including one involving the University of Calgary and the establishment of a research and development centre. That little effort cost us $80,000 CDN. My partner knew Maurice personally, and if anyone had a chance to do a deal with Maurice it was us. Like some of the thoroughbreds I have owned over the years (mostly hayburners) Maurice proved to be very unpredictable. The more we offered, the more he seemed to want. We went way beyond what reasonable investors would do, but I have a personal philosophy to help my fellow man and Starlite would help so much. But alas no deal would satisfy his continuously increasing agenda. In short, he was a moving target. It does not surprise me that it is not yet on the market. There was some question as to whether or not he could replicate the formula, and also, the British Government indicated to us that they may declare it a secret product. I have since closed my file on it, but have never lost interest in it.

He later added:

I have videos of tests that were conducted and it is truly an amazing product. I was told that he had participated in some discussions with NASA for obvious reasons. We were working with fire retardant products at that time.

UPDATE #2 (April 1, 2008): I had a long phone conversation with Maurice Ward himself. He assured me that, despite various setbacks and delays in the past, efforts are currently underway to commercialize Starlite. That was certainly good to hear.

UPDATE #3 (February 3, 2009): Yet another interesting email, this time from Pamela Pohling-Brown (reprinted with permission):

Quite by chance I came across your article of Jan 2008 on Starlite which makes mention of mine in International Defense Review (part of the Jane’s group) in the early 1990s (‘93 or ‘94). I can assure you that the article was not a hoax, despite the date of publication of that issue—it was a monthly magazine and we published on the same day each month. It was perhaps unfortunate that such a startling article should have been published in that issue but it had been on the stocks for several weeks, and in any case IDR prided itself on original and exclusive material and high-level contacts, and that would have been by no means the only interesting piece in that issue—it was just the one that aroused the most attention in the general public.

However, we did consider that we had a scoop on Starlite and that nothing much had emerged in the public domain before that. The person who drew my attention to it was Professor Sir Ronald Mason, an impeccable source as well as a good friend and contact of many years’ standing. The sources who supplied the test results were also unimpeachable. I was unable to witness a test, for obvious reasons, but did talk to Maurice Ward at some length and formed the opinion that his claims were to be taken seriously, but that he was a true English eccentric. He subsequently formed relationships with various defence companies, including Hunting, but was afraid that he would be fobbed off with a relatively meagre lump sum while any company he dealt with would profit much much more and take the credit. And so some at least seemed to want to do. So afraid of this was he that it was said that his daughter accompanied him to tests and meetings with a hoover (vacuum cleaner) in case small pieces should become detached. I cannot testify to the truth of this, but you indicated something of the same in your own piece.

Sir Ronald Mason is still active and a still a respected scientist and both I and my then editor, Rupert Pengelley, still have our wits about us. I always hoped to see the material in use as, to the best of my knowledge, it would revolutionise safety in many many walks of life. I fear, however, that it may have now somehow been classified and indeed possibly suppressed if it renders some current project/research area null; this was another of Maurice’s fears and I have little doubt that he only agreed to our publishing anything at the time because he thought that some measure of public attention would make suppression by whatever body less easy. At the time we joked about “The Man in the White Suit” —a British film of the 1950s.

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More Information about Starlite…

Thanks to readers Michael Tighe and Tom for suggesting today’s topic, and to Don Schnell for his additional insights!

The current incarnation of www.starlitetechnologies.com has just a malformed and nearly content-free home page with contact info and a picture of a race horse. (Even using the page’s own search field produces no results other than that one page.) However, when I sent an email to the AOL address shown on the page asking to join the mailing list, I received what appeared to be a human reply signed “mw.” Meanwhile, if you want to see how the site looked in the past, when it had much more (and more interesting) content, check out this link at The Wayback Machine.

Articles on the Web about Starlite include the following:

  • The article that started all the publicity was Taking the heat astonishing results with new material by Pamela Pohling-Brown in the International Defense Review (April 1, 1993—I can only presume that date isn’t significant!) [as posted at www. starlitetechnologies.com in December 2004, via the Wayback Machine]
  • Wonder Plastic Baffles World by John McGhie in The Observer (April 11, 1993) [quoted in a post to Google Groups]
  • Plastic That Can Withstand a Nuclear Blast? by Fred Guterl in Business Week (August 16, 1993) [as posted at www. starlitetechnologies.com in January 2005, via the Wayback Machine]
  • A transcript of the Starlite Plastic Report by Jane Pauley on “Dateline” (August 24, 1993) [as posted at www. starlitetechnologies.com in February 2005, via the Wayback Machine]
  • The Starlite Mystery Page was last updated in 2002, but appears to have no information about developments more recent than 1997.
  • Vanishing Starlite by Mark Pilkington in The Guardian (April 8, 2004)
  • Too hot to handle at Alternative Science [from July 2007, via the Wayback Machine]
  • Starlite in the Wikipedia
  • Material erregaitz harrigarria by Jon Otaolaurretxi at Zientzia.net (January 1, 1994)—note that this article is written in the Basque language Euskara, about which I’ve written previously on Interesting Thing of the Day

The article Inventor spurns burns with red-hot invention at BayToday.ca (October 4, 2003) describes Troy Hurtubise’s firepaste.

By the way, since I know someone is going to call me on this, various sources estimate the temperature of the sun’s surface to be anywhere from 5,500 to 6,000°C. The interior of the sun, however, is much hotter.

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Cherry pie has always been one of my favorite desserts, and this preference was only reinforced by my repeated viewings of the TV series Twin Peaks. A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Pat Cokewell, erstwhile owner of the Mar T Cafe (now called Twede’s) in North Bend, Washington. The Mar T achieved fame as the “RR Diner” on Twin Peaks, and it was Pat’s cherry pies that inspired director David Lynch to make the diner (and the pies) a central feature of the show. The cherry pies Pat bakes are indeed unimpeachable (and I’m sure even her peach pies are excellent). After sampling them I decided to teach myself how to bake cherry pies, and while I can’t yet claim to match Pat’s expertise, I’ve done OK.

The Crust of the Matter
The crust, of course, is the trickiest part of the pie to master, and I’ve messed up more than a few. In the course of my pie experiments, I’ve accumulated a pretty thorough collection of pie paraphernalia—a variety of pie pans, weights that are used to hold down a crust when baking it “blind” (without a filling), the special metal guards you put over the edges to keep them from burning, and so on. I considered myself quite well versed in the apparatus of pie-making until my wife came back from a trip to a large kitchen store with a shocking discovery: there was a Pie Thing I didn’t yet have, and indeed had never even heard of. It’s called a pie funnel.

My first thought upon hearing the term “pie funnel” was confusion at why someone would want to pour a pie into a bottle. Then I discovered that pie funnels are in fact devices designed to improve the top crust of a pie as it bakes. When you put a crust on top of your pie filling, you’re creating a sealed vessel containing a lot of moisture. As the pie bakes, some of that moisture turns to steam—and if the crust is completely sealed, the steam pressure can blow a hole through it, covering the inside of your oven. This is why lattice piecrusts were invented: not only do they look impressive, they leave plenty of holes for the steam to escape. But there’s more than one way to skin a pie.

Four and Twenty Ceramic Birds Baked in a Pie
A pie funnel is a hollow ceramic doohickey (to use a highly technical pie term) that stands a few inches high, with one or more openings near the bottom and a vent at the top—thus approximating the design of an upside-down funnel. In fact, the exact shape of a pie funnel is irrelevant; they are often made in the shape of birds (and called “pie birds”), but you can also find gnomes, chess pieces, and a variety of other designs that serve the same purpose. To use a pie funnel, you cover the bottom of the pie pan with dough as usual, place the funnel in the middle, and pour the filling around it. Then you lay on the top crust, with the pie funnel poking through and its top vent exposed; for best results, pinch the crust around the outside of the pie funnel to seal it.

As the pie bakes, the pie funnel vents steam from inside the pie, which helps to keep the crust from splitting, prevents the filling from boiling over, and serves to reduce and concentrate the juices. It also supports the top pie crust, keeping it from sagging into the filling and getting soggy. Depending on the shape of the pie funnel, you may or may not be able to remove it before slicing the pie. Either way, your pie will be a little goofy-looking, but that’s a small price to pay for an otherwise perfect crust. —Joe Kissell

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More Information about Pie Funnels…

Not exactly related to pie funnels, but you may also be interested in Pie in a Bottle, which I blogged about here.

Read more about pie funnels in Robin Young’s article I’ve got funnel vision in The Times.

Other sources for pie funnels online:

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