How to Hone Your Sense of Taste at Home

Have you ever wondered how to enhance your sense of taste? The Sensory Evaluation group at McCormick & Company Inc. has some fantastic suggestions for DIY taste tests that you can try from the comfort of your own home.

Testing Aroma: A Gateway to Flavor

Did you know that aroma contributes to 80% or more of a person’s sense of flavor? To test your ability to identify aromas, gather 10 household items and see if you can recognize them with your eyes closed. Marianne Gillette, an expert in sensory evaluation, recommends using items like anise or fennel, almond extract, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, lemon extract, onion powder, turpentine, vanilla, vinegar, scotch or bourbon. Remember to keep each item covered before smelling to preserve the volatile aromas. Take three short sniffs of each item to truly experience the scent.

Developing Olfactory Memory

Smelling different spices and focusing on their primary characteristics is an excellent way to boost your olfactory memory. McCormick’s “spice language” defines the primary characteristics of various spices. For example, nutmeg can be described as piney, citrusy, and numbing, while thyme has an earthy, musty, minty, and green aroma. By familiarizing yourself with these primary characteristics, you can train your sense of smell to recognize different spices effortlessly.

The Surprising Power of Color

Prepare lemon gelatin and dye separate batches with red, green, orange, and purple food coloring. It’s fascinating to discover that tasters often associate the red gelatin with strawberry flavor, the green with lime, the orange with orange, and the purple with anything from grape to root beer or licorice. The power of visual cues can play tricks on your taste buds!

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The Eyes Shut Challenge

Challenge yourself by blindfolding yourself and taking a sip of 7-Up followed by a sip of Coke. You might be surprised by how difficult it is to identify them without relying on sight! You can even try your own version of the famous “Pepsi Challenge” or compare Classic Coke with New Coke through a triangle test. A triangle test involves three samples, two of which are the same and one that is different. Can you discern the odd one out?

Putting Taste to the Test

If your kids are adamant about only eating a specific brand of peanut butter, put them to the test! Conduct a blind taste test with two or three competing brands and see if they can genuinely taste the difference. And why stop at humans? You can even indulge in a taste test with your furry friends!

Exploring Reduced-Fat and Reduced-Salt Options

Are you trying to adjust to foods lower in fat or salt? Set up a triangle taste test to determine if you can discern differences in reduced-fat milks, mayonnaises, and cheeses. You can also put your taste buds to the test by identifying the subtle distinctions between NutraSweet and sugar.

The Duo-Trio Challenge

For a more challenging test, try the “duo-trio” method. This test involves giving a person a sample, removing it, and then offering two other samples. One of the second batch samples should be identical to the first, while the other should be different. Can you successfully identify which of the second samples matches the first? No retasting allowed!

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The Order of Taste

Here’s a fascinating insight: when tasting two similar products, people tend to prefer what they tasted first. This preference occurs before any feelings of satiation or oral fatigue set in. As a result, a weaker quality sample, such as weak coffee or a generic cola, can score better if tasted first. On the other hand, strong coffee or the Real Thing might taste weaker if tasted second.

Finally, if you have dreams of going pro, you can participate in McCormick’s new consumer taste panels. These exciting opportunities begin in January at the company’s technical headquarters in Hunt Valley. For more information, you can reach out to Nancy Lynch at 5 WS.

Give these taste tests a try and unleash the full potential of your taste buds from the comfort of your own home. Enjoy the journey of discovery and refine your sense of taste like never before!

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