As summer comes to an end, I have continued with my experiments trying to gauge the truth – if any – in the tales of pyramid “power.” My first experiments gave interesting but mixed results. This time I tested the effects of both a metal and a wood pyramid on roses and on watermelon slices.
Roses – Success
I purchased a dozen long-stemmed roses and cut off the flowers from three of them to use as the subject of this experiment. The goal was to see whether being placed in a pyramid would cause a flower to dry up or otherwise be preserved in comparison to a control rose outside of the pyramid. While the set-up I used was the same as in my other experiments (container placed on a pedestal consisting of an overturned wastepaper basket topped with a brick), the container was different. While still glass, the top of the container was also glass, rather than a snap-on plastic lid. While this meant that the container was not as air-tight as the previous one, the different shape of the container (more head-room) decreased the effect of glass pressed hard against plant material as a significant factor in the flowers rotting (or not).
The results are made clear in the photos below, which I took at Day 1, Day 4, Day 8 and Day 10. Being placed in a pyramid causes roses to go bad at a much slower rate than controls not placed in a pyramid. It also appears that the preserving effects of a wood pyramid are greater than that of a metal pyramid.
Caveats: As mentioned above, I originally bought a bouquet of a dozen roses. The roses that I didn’t use in my experiment were placed in a vase with water on my dining room table. They opened about half-way, then went bad. The slightly disturbing thing was that these roses did not smell like roses unless I stuck my nose right into a blossom – and even then the smell was faint. So these were probably “franken-roses,” filled with chemicals and preservatives for the mass market. I should probably conduct this experiment again with flowers from a local garden to see whether that changes the results.
Day 4 – Notice the rotting leaves on the control bloom. The two that were under the pyramids only suffer from curling petals.
Day 8 Top View – The control bloom has taken a definite turn for the worse.
Day 8 Side View – In this photo you can see that only the rose under the wood pyramid remained fresh, with the control bloom heavily rotting.
Day 10 Top View – All blooms show sign of deterioration, with the control rose nearly unrecognizable.
Day 10 Side View – While all roses show sign of rotting and mold, the bloom from under the wood pyramid is clearly in the best shape. By this time I was using tongs to handle the control rose.
Watermelon Slices – Mixed Success
For this experiment I put watermelon slices of the same size and thickness in different two-cup glass containers sealed with plastic lids . Each container was then placed on the same platforms (overturned wasted paper baskets, each topped with a brick) used in previous experiments. Then I waited.
I devised this experiment expecting to find out something about the mummification properties of pyramids. The literature, after all, is replete with stories about how food stored in pyramids dries out rather than rotting. I chose to use watermelon because of the fruit’s extremely high water content – I felt that the high water content would both be a challenge to and give clear results regarding any pyramid affects on fresh food. I fully expected that at the end of the experiment I would observe some degree of desiccation, however slight.
That didn’t happen. Due to a busy schedule I didn’t even check on the watermelon samples until the end of the experiment (9 days), and when I first saw the containers I felt disappointed – I could see mold on the watermelon slices even through the glass. (Note: the mold was not unpleasant to look at – it resembled a soft gray down.) Then I opened them up and noticed something curious – the control watermelon had considerably less mold than the sample from either the metal or the wood pyramids. The sample from the wood pyramid hosted the most robust colony of mold, being nearly covered with it, with the quantity of mold on the watermelon from the metal pyramid falling somewhere between the two.
What?!! This was not what I expected. It looked like the watermelon samples in the pyramids were rotting more rapidly than that of the control. But then I stopped for a moment and thought about it. Was the vigorous growth of a mold colony actually an indication that the food was rotting? I will be the first to admit that my life and my kitchen are not bacteria-free. Neither had I taken steps to sterilize the glass containers, the knife, or the watermelon, so bacteria was assuredly present on the watermelon slices when I place them in the containers. Maybe the growth rate of the mold in the pyramids was actually similar to the faster germination and increased growth rate of the popcorn seeds I had found earlier. I needed a different yardstick by which to measure whether these samples were rotting.
So I used my nose.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the unscientific but generally reliable “refrigerator sniff test,” most commonly used when you find something in the back of your refrigerator and wonder whether it’s still safe to eat. I stuck my nose in each container and took a good whiff. The results were as follows:
Control Watermelon: I flinched as soon as I sniffed – not because of a stench, but due to a strong smell of vinegar.
Metal Pyramid Watermelon: This sample smelled faintly of vinegar, still no stench.
Wood Pyramid Watermelon: When I sniffed this container it smelled ….sweet. In fact, had I taken this container from the back of my refrigerator and relied on smell alone without looking at it, I would have pronounced the watermelon good to eat.
Being stored in a pyramid acts as a stimulus to the growth of bacteria present on watermelon slices, as well as a deterrent to the specific bacteria that causes fruit juice to develop into vinegar.
Caveats: It would have been interesting to have had the resources to have had the mold analyzed. Was it rot or was it penicillin? I plan to conduct an experiment in the future using apple slices rather than watermelon, to see if there is a different result because of the differing water content of the fruits.
Note: Before anyone suggests it – yes, I will do an experiment sometime in the future using a mouth-puckering bottle of wine 😉