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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 17:21 GMT
Gravy boffin uses his loaf
ciabatta bread
Ciabatta bread came top of the gravy test
A Bristol-based scientist has carried out extensive research to work out the ideal bread to mop up gravy.

Dr Len Fisher, a research fellow at the University of Bristol, has determined that the Italian crusty bread Ciabatta soaks up the most sauce.

He tested a variety of breads, including white and wholemeal cut both normally and length-wise, on how much gravy they could mop up from a 20ml sample.

Dr Fisher had previously worked out the amount of gravy in a roast dinner would be left behind on a plate and how much would be absorbed.

Dr Len Fisher
Len Fisher worked out perfect biscuit dunking
In his experiments, Dr Fisher took slices of bread weighing 33g and placed them flat down in gravy, recording weights after two, five and 10 seconds.

Pre-sliced white bread had a mop up rate of 64%.

Pre-sliced wholemeal could take up 69% of the gravy

But the ciabatta could take in 120% of the gravy, with a whole white loaf sliced length-ways coming in second but still lagging at 107%.

Dr Fisher said: "The point of testing a whole loaf cut length-wise is that many commercial loaves present a uniform surface.

"A length-wise cut reveals that some small holes are in fact cross-sections of larger channels and are able to hold more gravy."

Wasted gravy

Despite being a clear winner, Dr Fisher himself said that he was not fan of ciabatta, preferring his own length-wise sliced white bread with gravy applied at the last minute to prevent sogginess.

Previously, a study by Dr Fisher found that more than 700,000 litres (150,000 gallons) of gravy is wasted every week when it is poured over the Sunday roast in the UK.

He led a team that believed the reason for the waste is the lack of sauce absorbed by the food.

They worked out a formula where gravy uptake was measured against the weight of the uncooked food and the cooked weight.

Biscuit dunking

They found that Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes were the main absorbers of gravy and absorption times could be accelerated by 20% if the gravy used was hot.

Dr Fisher also hit the headlines when he announced he had cracked the physics of dunking biscuits.

He wrote an equation to show what happens when the starch globules in a biscuit absorb liquid, producing a gunge that breaks off and falls to the bottom of the cup.

From this, he was able to advise everyone on the technique that would result in the perfect dunk.

Click here to go to Bristol
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