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Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 6: Biology and Biological Technology, Part 5: Fermentations and Food Science

  • The first history of Chinese food technology in a western language
  • Author is a well-known scholar in the field who brings together his knowledge of Chinese dietary literature, a scientific background, and first-hand experience of the practice of Chinese food processing
  • Appeal to a broad readership of Chinese historians, scientists and biologists

Series: Science and Civilisation in China Volume: 6/5

By: HT Huang(Author), Joseph Needham(Editor)

769 pages, 61 tables

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Nov 2000 | #224776 | ISBN: 0521652707
Temporarily out of stock: order now to get this when available Details
NHBS Price: £211.00 $275/€236 approx

About this book

Today Chinese cuisine is enjoyed in many parts of the world, yet little is known in the West about the technologies involved in making its characteristic ingredients. H. T. Huang's book Biology and Biological Technology: Part 5, Fermentations and Food Science is the first history of Chinese food technology in a western language. It describes the conversion of agricultural commodities into food and drink, and explores the origins, development and scientific basis of traditional Chinese technology as applied to the processing of four food categories: the fermentation of alcoholic drinks from grains; the conversion of soybeans into soyfoods and condiments; the preservation of foods and the production of noodles, vegetable oils, malt sugar, starch, etc; and, lastly, the processing and utilisation of tea. Where possible the Chinese experience is compared with equivalent systems in the West and elsewhere.

Biology and Biological Technology: Part 5, Fermentations and Food Science ends with reflections on how nature, technology and human intervention have shaped the discovery and innovation of processed foods in traditional China.

"Huang has covered almost everything that one could possibly want to know about food and food processing in traditional China."
Journal of History of Medicine

"[...] illuminating, quirky and infectiously enthusiastic [...]"
Annals of Science

"H. T. Huang is a distinguished biochemist as well as being deeply learned in the Chinese tradition [...] Huang's technical explanations are often demanding, but the reader who perseveres will find the book rewarding."
British Journal for the History of Science

"This is the most convenient and reliable presentation of this information in a Western langauge [...] Huang's work is a thorough analysis of the archaeological, classical, historical, medical, literary, scientific and secondary literature on food processing in China and the reader will find here all he needs for his research. [...] this large volume is a most welcome contribution to the study of Chinese food science and culinary history and it can be seen as the definitive work in any language on Chinese food science."
– Ute Engelhardt, East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine


1. Introduction
2. Literature and sources
3. Fermentation and evolution of alcoholic drinks
4. Soybean processing and fermentation
5. Food processing and preservation
6. Tea processing and utilisation
7. Food and nutritional deficiency diseases
8. Reflections and epilogue

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