Episode Guides

Jimmy Doherty, Kate Quilton and Matt Tebbut present the food and science series that travels the world to lift the lid on what's really in the food we eat

About the Show

Jimmy Doherty, Kate Quilton and Matt Tebbut present the food and science series that travels the world to lift the lid on what's really in the food we eat

  • Series 4 Episode 6

    Jimmy wants to know what gives stout its smooth texture. In Dublin he learns that the key ingredient is nitrogen. But how does a gas make something creamy?

    Kate's on the trail of the ultimate superfood. We all want to make healthy choices but when it comes to fruit and veg, do we really know what's pick of the bunch? One of these nutritional stars is watercress. But why don't we know much about it?

    And why is English mustard hot while the Dijon variety is relatively cool? Matt visits a leading factory to find out how they're made.

  • Series 4 Episode 5

    Matt wants to know how it's possible for British onions to be sold in supermarkets all year round. The answer lies not in our soil, but in a disused aircraft hangar.

    Is pricey aged steak worth the wait? Jimmy visits a top butcher to find out how aged beef is produced and whether it's possible to mature-age your own steaks at home.

    Kate is intrigued about what goes into a stuffed olive. In Greece, she discovers that the filling in pimento olives is not just red pepper, but also contains another, surprise ingredient: Food Unwrapped's old friend, seaweed.

  • Series 4 Episode 4

    Most people want to eat less salt, but how do you make something 'low-salt'? Jimmy finds out how some food producers are using seaweed to reduce their salt content.

    Nationwide sales of that traditional East London favourite, jellied eels, are booming. Kate learns about the extraordinary journey that eels make across the Atlantic Ocean to end up in our rivers before being jellied.

    Tonic water glows under ultraviolet light. Matt puts on his lab coat to find out more about what gives a G&T its bizarre luminescence.

  • Series 4 Episode 3

    One of Jimmy's old favourites is black pudding. He learns about the amazing properties of blood and discovers how it's becoming trendy in gastronomy. Could desserts like pavlova be made from no-egg blood meringues?

    Meanwhile, Kate investigates how it's possible to grow juicy watermelons in one of the driest parts of Europe. She visits an enormous city of greenhouses in the Andalusian dessert where millions of melons are grown. But they need lots of water; where does it all come from?

    And Matt wants to know how they get the letters in the middle of a stick of rock. He visits a confectioner in Bridlington where they've been making the seaside classic using a technique perfected for over a century.

  • Series 4 Episode 2

    Kate wants to know where liquorice comes from. She's not a fan, but will she be converted once she's seen the experts in Calabria, Italy, turn bitter-tasting liquorice roots into sweet treats?

    The mushrooms available in shops come in many shapes and varieties but Jimmy wants to know what makes them grow. He finds that some of our favourite fungi don't come from woodlands, or even outdoors.

    Expert mushroom producers show him the techniques needed to make it autumn all year round.

    Plus, Matt uncovers the nasty bacteria potentially lurking in raw beansprouts.

    He's astounded to discover that consuming his favourite East Asian vegetable raw could be as risky as eating some oysters, so he heads to a factory in Northern Ireland to find out how some beansprouts can be labelled 'ready-to-eat'.

  • Series 4 Episode 1

    Jimmy wants to know why so much of the bacon in supermarkets comes from Denmark. He crosses the North Sea to visit one of the largest pork abattoirs in Europe, which operates 24 hours a day.

    Kate meets mozzarella makers in Italy. What is the liquid that mozzarella balls are bobbing in? In the Campania region, she learns the ancient techniques used to produce the cheese.

    And snails are served as a delicacy in French restaurants, but Matt asks: can you snack on the snails in your garden? He finds out how our common garden snails can go from potentially poisonous pests to delicious delicacies.

  • Food Unwrapped Easter Special

    Is dark chocolate good for you? Could daffodils help treat Alzheimer's disease? Jimmy, Kate and Matt uncover remarkable secrets about the nation's favourite springtime produce.

    Chocoholic Kate heads on a pilgrimage to a cocoa farm in Ghana to find out if there's any scientific truth behind the widespread belief that chemicals in dark chocolate have health benefits.

    Jimmy investigates why rabbit is stocked in supermarkets on the continent, but not in the UK. Does our association with pet bunnies dampen demand from British shoppers? He gets rare access to a rabbit farm in Spain to learn more about the industry.

    Matt goes on a real-life egg hunt to find out more about double yolks. But with 1.5 million hens eggs laid every day at just one UK farm, he may need to use some special techniques to find the rare 'double-yolkers'.

    Jimmy also heads to Hampshire and discovers that the tender spring lamb served at Easter may be older than you think.

  • Food Unwrapped

    Jimmy Doherty, Matt Tebbutt and Kate Quilton take another look at some of their favourite food discoveries from Series 3 in this special episode.

  • Series 3 Episode 5

    Jimmy gives supermarket fish a sniff to discover how fresh the stock really is.

    Kate investigates how asparagus can be grown all year round in one of the driest places on earth - the Ica Valley in Peru.

    Matt travels to a secret location to track down UK-grown wasabi plants, managing to sting his nostrils in the process.

  • Series 3 Episode 4

    Jimmy investigates whether manuka honey has any medicinal properties.

    Kate discovers why some varieties of caviar are so much cheaper than others.

    And Matt visits a Scottish distillery to find out the surprising truth about what gives whisky its distinctive flavour.

  • Series 3 Episode 3

    Kate visits France to find out if a glass of red wine a day keeps the doctor away.

    Venison is traditionally the meat of kings. This lean, healthy meat has become hugely popular over the last decade. Jimmy investigates why we seem to be importing some of it from New Zealand and discovers how to keep UK venison on our supermarket shelves.

    And Matt lifts the lid on skimmed milk. How do dairy farmers get exactly the right amount of fat in every pint of milk?

  • Series 3 Episode 2

    Jimmy finds out whether we should be eating cod or not and asks if there's enough in the sea to go round. He visits Iceland to discover why they supply most of the cod in our supermarkets, instead of British cod. Is Iceland's cod better?

    Kate investigates why, unlike other popular fruits, most British supermarkets only stock one variety of banana. She heads to Malaysia to learn about a disease that could mean the end of one of our favourite fruits.

    Plus, Matt examines the methods used to make popcorn and discovers why eating bucketloads of popcorn might not satisfy your appetite, encouraging you to eat more than you should.

  • Series 3 Episode 1

    Jimmy discovers that there's more to traditionally-matured cheese than meets the eye, thanks to a microorganism that helps give the likes of pecorino their distinctive hard rinds.

    Matt meets a team of researchers to examine why re-heating rice can make you ill, and discovers what makes the pre-cooked rice stocked in supermarkets safe to eat.

    Meanwhile, Kate heads to Malaysia to find out how vanilla is grown and how vanilla extract is produced.

  • Food Unwrapped Diet Special

    A huge range of diet products and plans are available, from fasting to detoxing and cutting out certain foods. Jimmy, Kate and Matt want to know which ones actually work.

    Are 'lite' foods really light? Should we detox after Christmas? Are sweeteners a dieter's friend or foe? And is cheese always off-limits for those looking to shed a few pounds? The team also reveal some shocking home truths about juice.

  • Food Unwrapped's Christmas Dinner

    Jimmy, Kate and Matt present a Christmas special unearthing the secrets behind our festive food.

    Over 10 million turkeys head for the oven at Christmas. Jimmy investigates the safest way to cook a turkey: can they ever be cooked from frozen, and why do they need to be cooked so carefully?

    On Christmas Eve it's traditional for children to leave out a snack for Father Christmas and a carrot for his reindeer. But do reindeer actually eat carrots? Kate is off to Lapland to find out, meeting the reindeer being bred to end up on the shop shelves.

    Do the bubbles in Champagne go to your head and make you feel tipsy sooner than other tipples? Matt has offered to check it out and reveal the serious science behind the bubbly.

    Kate's also on a mission to find out what's in the suet in your Christmas pud. And Jimmy wants to know why kids hate Brussels sprouts, and if food scientists can come up with a solution.

  • Food Unwrapped

    Jimmy Doherty, Matt Tebbutt and Kate Quilton answer more viewers' questions. Jimmy heads to Brazil to put stock cubes in the spotlight. How can something so small taste so beefy?

    Matt uncovers the clever ingredient in ice cream. And Kate travels to Swaziland to explore tinned grapefruit production, discovering that acid is used in the process, and finding out how it can be safe.

  • Food Unwrapped

    In this special episode Jimmy Doherty, Matt Tebbutt and Kate Quilton test some of the food techniques they've discovered during the series, to answer viewers' questions.

    Jimmy discovers how caffeine is extracted from coffee beans and asks if we should be worried about caffeine in the first place, examining how much it takes to harm you.

    Kate investigates why cutting off prawns' eyes makes them breed, and asks how we can buy prawns that haven't had their eyes cut off.

    And Matt finds out how much water can be added to formed ham and what that does to the price.

  • Series 2 Episode 8

    Are fresh sardines better for us than tinned sardines? How much is known about the ducks we consume? And, when it comes to pasta, is fresh best?

    The search for sardines starts in Portugal and Kate Quilton is off to trawl for fish. She follows the fresh sardines from boat to dockside to a tinning factory.

    Sardines are heralded as a 'superfood' and jam-packed full of Omega 3 oils, but Kate wants to know if the tinning process diminishes their health benefits.

    Does the duck in supermarket packaging differ from the ducks we see in ponds? Jimmy Doherty goes duck-hunting to see how game meat differs from farm meat. But wild duck can only be hunted for five months of the year.

    Given the increased demand for ducks, what are we eating? Jimmy goes to a farm to see how birds are reared and meet the specially-bred ducks who grow big quickly. Is there water for these aquatic birds to live in when they're farm-reared?

    We spend over £800 million on pasta each year in Britain. Supermarket shelves stock a wide range of dried and fresh pasta. Fresh pasta can cost 10 times more than dried, but what are you actually paying for and does the price match the taste?

  • Series 2 Episode 7

    Does a happy chicken lay a tastier egg? How do the supermarkets get avocados 'ripe and ready'? And why does one type of balsamic vinegar cost 100 times more than another?

    Kate visits Spain on the hunt for avocados. There are nearly 4000 trees on a farm near Malaga, producing half a million avocados.

    They need to be picked to ripen, but then their journey to the UK includes a surprise pit-stop at specialist ripening rooms in the Netherlands.

    Jimmy keeps chickens on his farm, and believes that a better-kept chicken produces a tastier egg. But he's never put it to the test, until now.

    Jimmy visits one of the UK's largest chicken farms, which produces a range of eggs: caged, barn, free-range and organic. How do they live, and does that affect the taste?

    Jimmy believes the feed is crucial to the bird and therefore the taste of the egg. But in a blind taste test, can he tell a free-range egg from a battery egg?

    Meanwhile, Matt is investigating balsamic vinegar: what is it made from and why does it have such a wide price range? He goes to Modena in Italy, where balsamic vinegar was invented.

    He finds that top-end bottles take 12 years to make and cost £100. So what's in the bottle that costs £1 and is usually available in British supermarkets? Matt sees the mass-production techniques used to make a premium product at a cut-price.

  • Series 2 Episode 6

    Can hot chillies injure you? What's the difference between outdoor-bred and outdoor-reared pork? And what's bugging Jimmy about red food dye?

    Kate's in Mozambique, home to the peri peri chilli, one of the most popular peppers in the world.

    Chilli sauce is fiery, but what creates that burning sensation and can it harm you? To find out, Jimmy eats one of the hottest chilli burgers in the world.

    His brain says serious damage is being done, but Jimmy asks a doctor if there are any physical effects.

    What makes chorizo red, and what is food additive E120, which is on the label? Jimmy finds out that a bug is responsible and visits Lanzarote, where he meets a farmer with some very unusual livestock.

    And presumably pork is either free-range or not, but is it really that simple?

  • Series 2 Episode 5

    How is caffeine removed from coffee? What puts the chew into chewing gum? How are the calories counted in diet bread?

    Jimmy Doherty visits Brazil to find out more about coffee beans and to try to find a naturally grown caffeine-free coffee.

    Kate Quilton heads to Finland to find out what makes chewing gum so chewy and if it is safe to swallow.

    At a giant chemical plant she learns that many of the ingredients found in some of our gums can also be found in car tyres and other unlikely products.

    Next she visits a doctor who specialises in digestion to find out what happens when you swallow a piece.

    And Matt Tebbutt counts the calories in diet bread. It looks and tastes similar but how are the calories sliced off?

  • Series 2 Episode 4

    Jimmy, Kate and Matt ask how much cow is in a beef stock cube, how cornflakes are made, and what exactly processed cheese is.

    Jimmy tests stock - homemade versus a cube - and is surprised to learn that a cube isn't made the traditional way, from boiled bones. So what is the 'beef extract' referred to on the label?

    Jimmy heads to Brazil, to a company which produces a quarter of the beef that is consumed globally each year, to find out more about this mysterious ingredient.

    Iron is essential to the human body, carrying oxygen through the blood, but what does it look like? And why is it added to cornflakes?

    And processed cheese doesn't come in chunks or blocks but melts nicely all over a burger, so what's in it?

    Matt helps to make one and is shocked to learn that there could be as little as 10 per cent cheese in each slice and that it's even possible to make a yellow cheese-style slice with no cheese at all.

  • Series 2 Episode 3

    The team ask: Why are cashew nuts never on the supermarket shelf in their shells? What exactly is scampi? Does expensive salt taste different to cheap salt?

    Kate Quilton heads into the Mozambique countryside to find out why - unlike walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds - cashews aren't sold in their shells.

    She learns that cracking a cashew nut in its shell can do serious harm and getting a cashew safe to handle is a huge process.

    But the team also discover that an extract from the shell can have an extremely high value and could potentially be of great use to medical science and the war against superbugs.

    Jimmy Doherty's voyage of discovery to find out more about pub-favourite scampi and its processed cousin scampi bites gets off to a stormy start as he's sea sick on a Scottish trawler.

    He soon discovers that not all scampi is made equal. After carrying out DNA tests on a range of scampi products, Jimmy finds a surprising foreign body in this great British classic that takes him to some unexpected places.

    And why pay 20 times more for one type of salt than another? Matt Tebbutt learns how sea salt is harvested and finds out if the difference in taste is worth the price.

  • Series 2 Episode 2

    Jimmy Doherty asks: what exactly is in a doner kebab? After going to a kebab manufacturer and helping make a doner, Jimmy is pleasantly surprised by what constitutes a real one.

    But he soon discovers that a lot of kebab shops in the UK don't know which meat is in the doners they're selling. So, armed with a stack of random kebabs bought from around the country, Jimmy gets a specialist laboratory to carry out DNA tests. He has each sample tested for donkey, horse, lamb, beef, chicken and pork - and the results are varied.

    Meanwhile, Kate Quilton wants to find out the safest way of eating oysters. After seeing how they're caught she's shocked to discover that 75% of UK-caught oysters contain the sickness bug Norovirus. After seeing British oysters being cleaned for consumption, the team visit Health Protection England to find out the safest way to eat oysters without getting ill.

    And finally, Matt Tebbutt learns about the amazing ingredient that comes in every bottle of that classic English tipple gin.

  • Series 2 Episode 1

    The team ask: is mouldy bread safe to eat? Kate's on the trail of the chicken that goes into a Kiev. And Matt is puzzled. And how can supermarkets sell English summer apples in the middle of winter?

    Jimmy travels to specialist cheese cellars in the south of France where mould is specially grown - to be eaten - before heading to Edinburgh to meet Britain's leading mould expert.

    Using specialist microscopes, Jimmy gets a unique insight into mould taking hold of bread to find out the difference between mould that is safe to eat and mould that can contain one the most deadly toxins known to man. Which is on your bread?

    Next the team head to Kiev in Ukraine to find out what part of a chicken makes a chicken Kiev.

    In a factory that processes around half a million birds a day Kate learns that a surprising number of chickens could end up in a single Kiev, and discovers how left-over chicken carcasses are turned into an unlikely food product.

  • Series 1 Episode 8

    The food enthusiasts discover how much cream is in ice cream, and find out how to smoke cheese, sausages and crisps with liquid smoke.

    Matt Tebbutt visits Sweden to see smoke without fire. Many smoked fish specialists use traditional smoking chimneys to rack up fish like haddock, but how do food manufacturers smoke products like sausages, cheese, crisps and sauces?

    Sweden's Stensåkra Charkuteri & Deli - one of Europe's most respected independent producers of smoked foods - reveal how they use liquid smoke to flavour their sausages, which is cheaper and quicker, and enables the food industry to tailor flavours more effectively.

    Food scientist Rachel Edwards Stuart makes liquid smoke with Martin and James by pumping smoke into an iced glass to make it condense into a liquid.

    Meanwhile, contrary to what we may think, there doesn't have to be any cream in ice cream. The Food Standards Agency requires that ice cream need only contain 2.5% milk protein and 5% of any kind of fat, which is often vegetable fat.

    None of the big ice cream companies would let Food Unwrapped in, so Matt meets Dr Alistair Grandison of Reading University's School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, who has created an equivalent of a traditional old ice cream factory on campus as part of his research. He makes ice cream with vegetable fats for Matt to try.

    And Martin and James head to Brighton beach with an old-fashioned ice cream bicycle adorned with banners saying 'Ice Vegetable Oil'. What will the public make of their product?

  • Series 1 Episode 7

    Kate travels from Essex to Holland to try and find out how sandwich manufacturers stop our packet tomato sarnies from going soggy.

    And the team investigate how strawberry flavoured foods really get their strawberry flavour.

    Kate starts at one of the UK's most innovative sandwich factories, which supplies shops, hospitals, the House of Commons and even Buckingham Palace, who surely wouldn't stand for soggy sandwiches.

    The sandwiches are cut by a sonic laser to ensure the perfect slice, with clever spreading of margarine and layering of ingredients to stop moisture leakage.

    But the real revelation is that they use a tomato that has been specially bred to stop soggy sandwiches.

    The Intense Tomato, launched in 2007, is very firm, with few seeds, and makes hardly any juice when squeezed, but is incredibly tasty and a deep red colour.

    In Holland, Kate discovers that this hybrid tomato took 10 years to develop, using the latest cross-pollination and plant DNA technology.

    Strawberry is one of the most popular flavours in yoghurts, sweets, drinks and cakes.

    Matt and food scientist Rachel Edwards Stuart try to make strawberry yoghurt with the average amount of strawberries in supermarkets' own brands - 10% - but can't produce any flavour.

    Martin Dickie visits the huge Nestle factory that makes Fruit Pastilles to ask how they get the strawberry pastilles so strawberry-ish and discovers that a six-times-concentrated strawberry flavour and strawberry oils are the key.

    And they both contain some strawberries, which means the factory can put a picture of a strawberry on the packet.

  • Series 1 Episode 6

    Kate Quilton heads to Spain to find out how pure squeezed, not-from-concentrate orange juice is really made, and how 'fresh' it is.

    The team then travel around the UK to find out what is used to replace the fat in low-fat mayonnaise, and discover it's a bacteria that usually grows on rotting cabbages.

  • Series 1 Episode 5

    The team head to Thailand to find out what seafood goes into seafood sticks, and then discover how some British wine is really made... in Spain.

    In a seafood stick factory in Thailand Kate sees some incredible production techniques and giant frozen blocks of fish called surimi.

    Confusingly, there are two types of domestically produced wines: British and English. British wine is much cheaper, so what's the difference?

  • Series 1 Episode 4

    The fourth episode explores the difference between green and black olives, and why not everything that goes into beer processing is listed in the ingredients.

    Matt travels to South Africa to visit one of the country's largest olive orchards in the Western Cape, where he discovers that black olives are just riper green olives, but that both need a year's soaking in brine to make them edible.

    In Spain, Kate is shown how mass production factories make super black olives found in pizza and salads.

    And Matt heads to a small brewery near Belfast to discover if it really is just water, hops, barley and wheat in beer.

  • Series 1 Episode 3

    The third episode explores how prawns are intensively farmed and discovers why there are often so few wild mushrooms in our wild mushroom soups.

    Kate flies to Thailand - the world's biggest producer of farmed prawns - to get a sense of the scale of the industry, and Matt meets a professional wild mushroom forager in the woods of West Sussex.

  • Series 1 Episode 2

    Kate and Matt investigate the wax on our lemons in Spain and Thailand, and Matt gets the real story behind formed ham here in the UK.

  • Series 1 Episode 1

    Kate Quilton travels to Swaziland to find out how they get tinned grapefruit so perfect, and, in Finland, Matt Tebbutt discovers exactly what the bacteria are in Probiotics.

Food Unwrapped synopsis

Jimmy Doherty, Kate Quilton and Matt Tebbut present the food and science series that travels the world to lift the lid on what's really in the food we eat

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33 Episodes