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OK, Gastronuts, let's find out what our challenge is this week.
Can we make a plastic bag from mashed potato?
The Gastronuts doing weird stuff with food today are,
If I can use food in a new way, I'll use
pizza for a steering wheel in a car.
When I'm not putting salt and pepper on my food
I like putting it in my friend's drink as a prank.
Coming up on today's show,
I get up close to some really fast food.
That is so cool!
The Gastronuts and I have a small difference of opinion.
I do think it's the best food on the planet.
And we find out what's been stuck up my drainpipe.
That was the best one! Look, it went miles!
-What is food for?
-If you're naughty, I guess so.
-For eating. It gives us fuel, doesn't it?
It gives us the energy to last the day.
But what else can food make that isn't part of us?
-Cheese string glasses.
-In a world of fantasy, you could!
-You can turn spices into make-up or perfume.
-There's cream made out of coconut butter?
-Mustard for face paints?
That would hurt! Anything else that we can use food for?
You can stick together cow intestines and that to make a belt.
It's mad, but you could. The big question is,
can we make plastic bags out of mashed potato?
-I think so.
-Not sure. I think so.
-Let's give it a go.
-Let's give it a go. Come on, then, guys, follow me.
Let's start off by taking some potatoes.
OK, they need to go into the blender. Go on, get in there.
We just need a little bit of water to make it all nice and soppy.
Woo-hoo! And give it a good whizz.
OK, Ben, I think we're done there.
What we've got in here is all the starch from the potatoes
which will give us a really good solid substance,
but we need to take the water out of it.
-It looks like porridge now.
It's like porridge, sick, potato milkshake.
OK, now we need to get all of the water so we're
just left with all the starch.
Busting out a little bit,
I think we've started to make little holes in the muslin.
Woo-hoo! OK, let's have a look at what we've got here. Whoa!
-That looks like cheese.
-What does it smell like?
-It smells really strange. It smells almost like sort of
-petrol or something.
-It smells like raw potatoes.
-It's quite potent, isn't it?
It's almost like a biofuel already.
To turn our mash into plastic we're adding vinegar,
a sugary liquid called glycerin and some water.
We then let it all simmer together.
So why do you think we're bothering
to make a plastic bag out of potatoes?
Maybe because it's something different and it's
-a little bit more, what's the word? Environmental.
-It's good to experiment.
To make things out of oil you need to keep taking oil out of the ground
and oil is beginning to run out, so we need to start finding other
ways to make the things we need.
Do you know how long it takes a normal plastic bag to degrade,
-to turn into mush?
-About a year?
-Two to five months?
The truth is nobody really knows because none of the plastic
has degraded yet, so we don't know.
-I think that should be nearly ready. Isn't that weird?
-It's all goo.
The potato has definitely turned into something else, hasn't it?
It's become a very different substance.
There's some magic of science that's gone on there somewhere.
Let's grab that baking tray over there.
-Oh! Oh, that is cool.
-The mash mix is poured on
to a baking tray and popped in the oven for a couple of hours.
Bags made from starch are becoming available
in the shops. They look just like normal bags,
but what will ours look like?
-So, does that look like a carrier bag?
No. What does it feel like?
It feels kind of like a plastic bag.
It is sort of plasticky, isn't it? Here we go, then.
We're going to try and transform this pile of goo into a plastic bag.
We're going to staple our bag together
and see if that does the job.
I think we need a bit of branding on this, don't we?
Let's take those small potatoes.
Let's see how many we can get in there.
And another one. And another one!
Arub, I'd like you to carry my carrier bag.
Let's see how many potatoes we can get in before she goes.
I know it sounds quite disgusting, but if you added some string
and you went to the countryside,
it might look a tiny bit like a cow-skin bag.
Like a cow-skin bag! It could do.
I wouldn't really want to be caught with that in the supermarket.
Let's try one more thing.
OK, let's pop this down here.
Most carrier bags have a handle, don't they?
There we go.
I would say that is a plastic bag!
OK, our bag doesn't look great, but it does prove
that you can make plastic that doesn't need oil
and won't take years to break down.
Amazing! It's as though food has got secrets waiting to be teased out.
You can turn it into so many different things,
but I wonder how far we can go with taking food
and changing it into something different?
I was really surprised that a potato plastic bag
can carry more than five potatoes.
In recent years, people have learnt how food can be usefully turned
into new substances.
In the past, the kitchen was where the earliest science took place,
sometimes with explosive results.
So Gastronuts, who likes doing science at school?
-Yeah! Cooking is very much like chemistry.
Mixing ingredients together,
applying heat and changing it into something else.
So I just want to show you something that uses food
in a little chemical experiment.
Here we have some bicarbonate of soda, and here we have some vinegar.
What I'd like you to do, Connor,
is tip the bicarbonate of soda into the vinegar.
I wouldn't hold on to, actually, if I were you.
Give it a good old tip and see what happens.
-Oh, it's fizzing!
Now, what's happening there is that the acid in the vinegar
is reacting with the bicarbonate of soda,
creating carbon dioxide, making it fizz.
When you put bicarbonate of soda into cakes,
it helps things to rise, it puts air inside them,
it makes them light and fluffy.
I wondered if we could take this reaction
and build it up on a bigger scale and make something more exciting.
-Would you like to try that?
-OK, follow me.
Now then, I want you all to wait here for a second,
because I need to go and find a friend I'd like you to meet.
Hold on there.
Many people believe that experimenting
in the kitchen was where modern science began.
We're going to see how we can take something familiar,
like making a cake rise, and turn it into something really cool.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to my friend BBB.
This is Barry The Bicarbonate-Of-Soda Bazooka.
Now, what does a bazooka do?
You put a rocket in the end and it goes...ppwwrrr!
We've taken a length of pipe you'd use in your guttering
and attached it to a pivot with some wheels.
That's the bazooka, now to make our missiles.
We're going to use bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and try and use
all the gas that's given off by the reaction between those
to build up pressure, and when that pressure releases, hopefully,
we'll make something that will blow off.
We start with a bottle. Connor, grab one of those bottles.
Any bottle. Choose a bottle, any bottle.
OK, now we need to fill it with about two inches of vinegar.
Brilliant. Now for the other side of it.
This is a piece of pipe with a bung stopping it at the end
and we're going to put our bicarbonate of soda into there.
Imogen, you grab that.
OK, that will do perfectly.
Now, this is the tricky bit.
What we're doing is we're keeping the bicarbonate of soda
and the vinegar separate until the very last minute,
and when we put this stopper in to bung it up,
hopefully we'll be able to create lots of pressure,
and when that pressure eventually pushes the bung out of the bottom,
all of the pressure in the bottle will be released.
The bung keeps it nice and tight, so there's nothing in there.
And then, we need to pop it into Barry The Bazooka.
Mixing vinegar and baking powder in large amounts can be dangerous,
so do not try this at home, unless you're a member of the armed forces
or you're making a cake the size of a house!
What we're going to do is we're going to put the ammunition
into Barry and then we're going to lift him up,
so that the bicarbonate of soda mixes with the vinegar.
Our aim is to try and hit the bucket over there.
-So Connor, are we facing the right way?
-No, wait, I'll just do the aim.
Yeah, it's over here. A little bit to the...more...
OK, here's one for Ben.
The bottle with the bicarb and vinegar is placed inside.
A strap over the end stops the bottle falling out
when we tip up our bazooka.
All the way to the top.
Once we've tipped it up, the bicarb and vinegar fizz together.
We release the strap, take aim
and wait for our bottle to blow out of the pipe.
-How long does it take?
-Well, I don't really know.
In fact... Oh, there we go!
Well, it works. It didn't get quite far enough, though.
Maybe I need to shake it more.
Maybe we need more vinegar. Maybe I should push the bung in tighter.
OK, next one, then.
Give it a shake. Lovely. And back down.
Shall we give it a count to see how long it takes?
Five. Six. Seven.
That went miles!
Farther than yours, mate.
I wonder if we can stick it in
a bit tighter and get it even further?
Go on then, go for it. A good old shake.
I can't hear anything happening.
Well, maybe we should just all sit about and have a bit of a rest.
Let's do a dance.
-What are we going to dance?
# Gastronuts, eee, eee, eee, eee!
# Gastronuts, eee, eee, eee, eee! #
Can we not just show them G or something?
I do hope this works. They're starting to frighten me!
This isn't happening. Let's give it another shake.
OK, let's go.
-It's going to bang!
That was the best one! Look, it went miles!
-Happy with that?
Give her a shake.
And back up again.
-We sit and we wait.
Whoa! Oh, you hit the bucket as well!
Brilliant! Top man. Give me five.
-Guys, what do you think about this?
-That was just wicked.
-I liked that.
-That was the best bit, I think.
-What do you think of Barry?
-Can I keep him?
We've proved you can actually power a bazooka
using the same process we use to make a cake rise.
And that's the great thing about food, it doesn't just feed us,
it can lead us into thinking about the world in a completely new way.
We all spend huge amounts of our time eating,
thinking about our food and playing with our food,
but when you start getting scientists
experimenting with their food, strange things happen.
Some brainboxes at Warwick University have come up with a use
for old fruit and veg that is completely car-azy.
Steve, how are you doing?
So you play with your food on a professional basis?
We do experiments looking at how we can use different foods for
different things and we are looking at making things from carrots
and from soya beans and from chocolate.
Sounds fantastic. Anything useful you can show us?
I've got a project over here that looks like fast food.
-This is James, our racing driver.
-Hello, James. Nice to meet you.
It's a very cool racing car, but what's she got to do with food?
There are a number of technologies on this car
which are based on foodstuffs.
So for example, the steering wheel is actually made from
carrots and other root vegetables.
That's absolutely solid.
Does it make a particularly good steering wheel?
Absolutely. I mean, that particular material is used
in fishing rods and other things
and we've made it into a steering wheel and it's great.
It's lightweight, strong, perfect!
What else? Nothing here looks like it's made out of food.
OK, well the seat itself is made from a foam material.
That would normally be made from crude oil,
but that one is actually made from soya beans.
Does it keep your bum warm?
No, it's just meant to be squidgy and give you support on your hips
so you don't get shaken around on corners.
So what else here is made out of foods and plants and vegetables?
If we look at the bib underneath the car here,
that's made out of a flax material.
Flax is a plant that is grown in the field.
You usually make things like sheets out of that,
pillowcases and that sort of thing.
We've made wing mirrors out of potato starch.
If you take a potato and you're turning it into your crisps,
you slice your potato into lots of thin pieces
and you get left with a starchy residue on the blades,
and that starch you can then turn into packaging material
and that's what we've made our wing mirrors out of.
Do you drive around going, "I'm driving something made out food!"
It's amazing. Sometimes we wonder whether
they're going to hold together, but we've done our work properly,
and the foodstuff and natural fibres are all good quality
and strong enough for the car.
Time to see how a car made out of food sounds and goes.
So how fast would the car go?
Well, currently it goes about 135 miles an hour,
but with a bit more engineering, we think we can get up to about 140.
That's a car made of vegetables!
Yeah, but the best thing is what we actually run it on.
This car runs on biofuel made from the fat squeezed out from beef,
salmon and, best of all, chocolate.
-That is the most extraordinary thing, running a car on fish!
That is so cool! Does it smell of salmon?
-That one does a bit.
-It smells of fish oil, yeah.
Anything that produces a fatty substance, we can make fuel from.
We can make fuel for about 15p a litre,
compared to about £1 a litre at the petrol pump.
So not only is it using up a waste product,
but it's really cheap as well.
Yeah, it makes sense, it really does.
This car is cool.
Made from root veggies, soya beans and plant fibres,
it really is fast food!
What's extraordinary about this car
is that it's not just mucking about with food.
These are really high-tech, high-performance uses of food.
It's absolutely brilliant.
How do you make corn starch boogie without touching it?
What we need is corn starch and then we're going to add
a little water to it.
Something amazing happens, as it forms
a very, very strange mess.
When you try and stir it, it won't let you. It stiffens and it cracks.
What we're going to do now is we're going to add a little bit
of food colouring, just so that we can see it
a little better.
So our corn starch is ready
and I'm going to put it
into my special dancing-corn-starch speaker.
It looks like it's alive!
So what's going on here?
Is it a solid or is it a liquid?
Well, actually, it's a bit of both.
You have the liquid, water, which is surrounding
particles of the corn starch.
In our speaker, where the speaker is
bouncing up and down, very, very slowly, we can get those particles
to jump past each other and build those very strange arms and legs.
So corn starch and water are a little bit like sand and water,
a bit like when you go to the beach and you run on wet sand,
and it feels quite firm,
and then when you stop, it goes all soft and you sink into it.
We're trying to find out if we can do more with food than just eat it.
So far, we've turned a sack of spuds into a plastic bag.
I wouldn't want to be caught with that in the supermarket!
And seen some food on the go.
It's a car made of vegetables!
Next up, the Gastronuts sample the fat of the hand.
It looks like wee.
And find out what's the ultimate in flexible food.
That's steaming, isn't it?
-Wow! That one went miles!
OK, we've got a massive treat for you today.
I have to admit,
not everyone else feels the same about this as I do, but I think
it's the best food on the planet.
Have a little try of that one there.
-Don't you like it?
-It tastes like slime.
This is called lardo. It's pork fat. Who knows what that is?
-It looks like cheese.
It looks like cheese, but it's not. It's lard.
We use lard these days for baking or to fry with,
but in the past, it was used for all sorts of things,
some of which are very surprising.
So what else could we use it for?
-Well, let's take that crazy idea and let's see
if we can make something that we could wash ourselves with, yeah?
-First of all we need to turn the lard into liquid.
OK, now it's time to do the dangerous bit.
Glasses on, everybody.
We are going to make a solution of caustic soda.
It's very, very alkaline,
so it dissolves anything that's organic. Now, Arub,
be very careful. If you pour that bowl
of caustic soda into the water very gently,
so it doesn't splash. That's it, the whole lot.
Now give it a gentle stir.
-Imogen, I want you to touch the side of the bowl.
It's really hot. It feels like boiling water, almost.
That's a chemical reaction going on
between the water and the caustic soda and it makes it very hot.
-How is your fat doing over there?
-It's all melted.
All melted, brilliant. Now, what we need to do is
pour that hot fat into a bowl.
Oh, that's nice.
That is melted lard.
It looks like oil.
It looks like wee, doesn't it? Let's be honest, here, it looks like wee.
Well, the wee you do first thing in the morning!
These ones here are cool.
We're going to put them into the blender.
Arub, if you can pour in the caustic soda.
And give it a whizz.
It looks like milk, but in a really weird way.
OK, stop it there for a sec. OK, that's looking nice and thick now.
OK, now what we need to do is put a little bit of flavouring into it.
We've got some rosemary. Woo-hoo! That'll do. Turn it off again.
Brilliant! Now, if you can pour it into this, this is our mould.
Would you put that on your skin?
The mixture needs to cool overnight in the fridge,
but don't mistake it for hummus if you get the munchies!
The idea is that the runny pig fat
and dangerous chemicals should combine to make soap.
I might let the Gastronuts try it out first!
Chuck it out there.
So that was caustic soda in there. Now it's something very different.
Everyone got clean hands? Clean hands are no good.
Let's make them dirty.
OK, Ben, if you can pass me a piece of coal.
Pass us another piece of coal.
And another piece.
In the olden days, when people used to pass round coal for fun,
most soap was made from lard.
Let's see if out attempt works.
-OK, everyone nice and mucky?
OK. Lard and caustic soda, soap.
Can everyone get in there?
Does it feel like normal soap? Can anyone get some suds out?
Has anyone managed to make any lather? Any bubbles?
-OK, I want to see super-clean hands.
My hands are actually almost clean.
It's like super soap! It's even soapier than normal soap.
Let's have a show of hands.
Whoa-ho! Are we clean?
-We're clean! Brilliant. This shouldn't work, but it does.
Something that you can eat and cook with
can actually be transformed into soap,
and you can wash your little pinkies with some fat from a little piggy.
-It's a bit disgusting.
But at least it cleaned our hands.
It's pig fat, and you don't put pig fat on your hands.
It's disgusting and mucky, but we've become clean, haven't we?
Let's see if there's anything else we can transform our food into.
-Do you know what this is?
It's a plant, brilliant! But what sort of plant is it?
-It's bamboo, spot on, well done.
Well, bamboo is an extraordinary, extraordinary plant.
It's a fantastic food, but it can be used to make
a huge variety of different things,
and I want to show you some of them. Follow me.
-What do you think that everything here is made out of?
-Bamboo. It's all bamboo,
apart from a couple of bits of steel holding this up.
So we've got a bamboo bowl here, we've got a bamboo steamer,
a bamboo spit and bamboo plates.
We've got all sorts of bamboo things.
Now, the idea here is that we're going to put a fire underneath this
and try and steam some food in here.
-What do you think we should steam in our bamboo steamer?
Come over here and I'll show you some bamboo we can eat.
-Now, this is bamboo shoots.
-It's quite nice, actually.
Bamboo shoots are really important for Chinese food.
-Who likes eating Chinese takeaway?
Well, there'll be loads of bamboo shoots in there
and these are how they come.
They're really tender and they've got this sourness.
Really delicious food.
So we're going to take some of these
and then we're going to cook and eat them on plates made of...
-Bamboo. And chopsticks made of?
So we've got some so water in the bottom there,
we've got a bamboo steamer here,
all we really need to do is heat up the water enough
to cook those bamboo shoots.
Pop the lid on.
Time to light our fire made of wolves' tongues and swans' feet.
Oh, all right, it's also made out of bamboo.
Well, let's see if we're managing to cook our bamboo with bamboo.
That's steaming, isn't it?
How cool is that? We're adding our bamboo to a tasty stir-fry.
We know it can be turned into almost anything, but how does it taste?
-That's really nice.
-I wonder if we can take the idea of using
bamboo for different uses and make it into something really explosive.
-Explosive? Sound like my kind of thing!
"Oh"? That's not the reaction!
You're supposed to go, "YEAH!"
Bamboo has been used in all sorts of ways for centuries,
but it's also a modern environmentally-friendly material
that can be used to make fabric for clothes, bike frames
and even laptops,
but there's one traditional use that's still the coolest.
-Do you remember Barry The Bazooka?
This is Barry's cousin.
Meet Colin The Cannon!
Made out of bamboo.
If it was made by the Chinese, would it be used in the Imperial Army?
Exactly that kind of thing.
Bamboo cannons were invented by the Chinese and used
as flame-throwers or to fire missiles.
With the help of explosives expert Graham, we'll be seeing
if we can make some food go bam-boom!
-So what have we got here?
-Which one do you reckon will be best?
I'd say Brussels sprouts, because they're the smallest.
First up to the front line,
it's Imogen doing the best thing I've ever seen done
with Brussels sprouts - blowing them up!
Give them to me.
-Three, two, one,
That was pretty good!
Quite a good scattering here. Where's the furthest one?
OK, I think that's the furthest one there.
Next up, it's Connor, with some bagel bombs.
How far do you reckon these are going to go? Further?
-They might go further.
-Yeah, are you feeling confident?
-Three, two, one,
I think you managed to toast them at same time as fire them.
It's a toasted bagel!
OK, that did pretty well. That was further than the Brussels sprout.
Arub is seeing if she can pip Connor with her orange.
Three, two, one,
It's flopped out the end, didn't it?
I'd say that got about ten yards.
And finally, Ben's trying out the world's biggest spud gun.
Three, two, one,
Wow! That one went miles!
Where did it go, where did it go?
Here it is.
Look at that, that's brilliant!
It's been baked in transit.
So the next time you're holding off an invading Mongol army,
make sure you load up your bamboo cannon with some spuds!
Roasting the bamboo on the spit was probably
one of the best things in my life,
and I hope for more things to come up like that again.
The worst part was eating the pig fat, because it tasted slimy
and it slithered down my throat.
Now that I've been on Gastronuts, I don't just think about eating food,
I think about blasting them as well!
It's just kind of a bit unbelievable
that we made a plastic bag out of potato.
That was so cool, but also quite bizarre.
The idea that this is a bamboo cannon firing vegetables,
and yet it's made out of food that we eat.
When you think about it, there are so many things in our normal lives
that are made out of food and it just takes following up
these stories to find out all these things that blow your mind!
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