Taste is often listed as the top reason we choose the foods and beverages we consume most often. When we love how something tastes—or more precisely, when we love the flavor—we will seek it out frequently for meals and snacks. If you’re like, always seeking ways to get your family to eat and enjoy more fruits and veggies, these insights and tips should be super helpful.
The Flavor Factor
Taste and flavor are not synonymous. Taste refers to our sense of taste, which has five elements: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. Flavor is much more complex; it involves all our senses.
Think about a ripe nectarine. When you look at it you may appreciate the beautiful orange hue with perhaps a red blush. Your fingers may notice the smooth skin compared to the faint fuzz of its cousin, the peach. As you bring it up to your mouth, your nose will notice alluring aromas. As you bite into it, you’ll feel the release of sweet nectarine juice on your palate. As you chew it, you’ll appreciate the smooth silky texture of the flesh.
While we may not always have such an all-encompassing and mindful moment with a peach, doing so occasionally can help you appreciate all the facets of flavor.
All our senses are important elements of creating flavor, but the most important is our sense of smell. Sensory scientists estimate that 80% of our impressions of flavor are driven by our sense of smell, which makes aroma an essential element for falling in love with the flavor of fruits and veggies.
Create Alluring Aromas
There are many ways to create alluring aromas in fruits and vegetables. The first shows the power of Mother Nature when it comes to fruit. Ripe fruits contain more aromatic flavor compounds, designed to tempt us. If you bring home fruit like slightly green bananas or stone fruits like apricots, peaches, plums, or nectarines that may need a bit more ripening to develop greater aroma, you can use the time-honored trick of placing them in a bowl or bag with an apple. Apples produce ethylene gas, a natural substance that promotes ripening in other fruit. Just don’t leave them in the bag too long or they may get overripe, which has a negative effect on texture; a day or so should do the trick.
Another way to enhance aroma is to use heat to release the compounds that create alluring aromas. A baked apple will release more aromas than a raw apple. Likewise, a cooked carrot will tempt you with comforting carrot aromas more than a fresh one.
Speaking of carrots, roasting vegetables is another great way to boost aroma and overall flavor. Roasting takes advantage of an amazing process called the Maillard or browning reaction. When amino acids and sugars in vegetables and other foods transform during roasting, they create fantastic flavors.
One final way to enhance aromas is to use spices when making fruits and veggies. You can add spice blends like tajin (a blend of ground chiles and dried lime zest) to fresh fruit like melons and apples to enhance their aromas.
Fresh spices can have a powerful flavor impact. If you buy whole spices and grind them at home right before using them, you’ll get the most flavor from spices like cumin, coriander, even black pepper. You can use a coffee grinder to grind your spices. You can clean the grinder by grinding a few tablespoons of white rice in it so it doesn’t have a negative impact on the flavor of your coffee.
And if you’re like me and you don’t have time for grinding spices, consider buying them in smaller amounts so you can use them before they lose their luscious flavors!
At the end of the day, we want everyone to eat and ENJOY more fruits and vegetables – the plants that people aren’t eating enough of. And if spicing them up with fresh spices, cooking techniques or even a few ripening hacks get us closer, that is what we’re all about! #haveaplant