Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Yes, there's accounting for tastes

…At the University of Arkansas, an assistant professor of food science named Jean-Francois Meullenet is finding ways to translate taste from tongue to factory.

…Consumer panels of 1,500 individuals provide personal and consumption info to the scientists and about 60 are chosen for each outing. The questionnaires are so detailed the researchers were able to find 60 people who like to drink muscadine juice.

…The university has also added a professional tasting panel, which can define gradations of taste according to a detailed profile of flavor and texture.

…To test yogurt, for instance, the profs pick people who like yogurt, which cuts down on the yucks.

…Brands are masked, of course. Actually, that is not easy. They wanted to keep the yogurt in its tub because the unit might affect taste, but had to make a shielding box to go around it.

…Leave this to the professionals, please. They don’t think yum or yuck, but quantify, say, chalky, on a numerical scale.

…”Feel it on your back teeth,” advised one.

…What about “mouth coat,” the amount that remains, spitting it out?

…Aftertaste…aroma…tenderness….chicken used to be cooked whole, which allowed muscle contractions after the killing to relax. If you chop it off the bone and cook it, those muscles may create toughness. The testers decided deboning 6 hrs after death made it tender enough.

…But on the processing line, some chicken got tenderer in 3 hours, some in 6. The researchers figured out a way to aim a puff of air at a filet and see how it fluffed out or rippled.

…HA is glad someone (else) out there is doing this work, but what do you think? Is this story a pretty decent diet plan?

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