Ugly tomatoes taste better

Wet cardboard and a tomato should not taste the same, but few of us have been fortunate enough to experience the difference. A tomato, in addition to water and cellulose, has sugars, acids, and aromas that distinguish it from wet cardboard. I blamed supermarkets demanding firm, but not very ripe, fruit for the cardboard-like tomato offerings, but a recent article in Science explains that the problem is a malfunctioning gene.…

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The brix of sweet fruit

Buying local is good for the environment and for your taste buds. When in season, I enjoy apples and peaches from the nearby Virginia farms. Produce from Pennsylvania farms — only a few hours away — arrives rich and flavorful. But it is now winter, local trees and fields lay barren, and only a few energy-sucking greenhouses produce anything. I will trade carbon emissions from many other activities before I give up those fruits and vegetables flown in from far and warmer places.…

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The science of champagne

Bubbles add sparkle to wine. How they form, move, and affect our perception of the wine is the subject of the science of champagne. I stumbled on this topic in a review on the chemistry and physics of champagne published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The review comes from the keyboard of Gérard Liger-Belair, a physicist who is a professor at the Université de Reims, in Champagne-Ardenne, France (where else?…

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What gives Gouda cheese its flavor

Cheeses are satisfying: they have a richness of flavor and feel good when eaten. Thomas Hofmann and collaborators have recently published some of the compounds that give Gouda cheese that feel-good sensation. They called those molecules kokumi peptides after a term used by a Japanese company to promote umami flavors with good mouthfeel. If Gouda cheese is aged for only 4 weeks it lacks the complexity and body of a Gouda that has matured for 44 weeks.…

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High pressure pasteurization

In an age where online shopping and credit cards allow us to buy goods worldwide it is unexpected that one should have difficulty buying anything. But I have. There are many food products in the market that I have tried to buy, but failed. Want some pink guava puree: easy. Want some Blue Congo Potatoes or in-shell pasteurized eggs: that may require some travel. For some time I have wanted to write about using high pressure to pasteurize food without heat.…

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