Lactic Fermentation

Added on by Ben Reade.

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) fermentation (F) plays a major part in traditional food processing technology all over the world. LAB produce lactic acid, a gentle tasting acid which can lower the pH of a food making it uninhabitable to other types of microorganisms. LAB F contributes to preservation, flavour and texture of foods. LAB is used to describe species from many genera, most commonly LactobacillusLactococcusLeuconostoc and Streptococcus thermophillus (de Vos, 2005).  Certain taxa of LAB are also responsible for the production of bacteriocins, chemicals that inhibit the growth of other bacteria, the example of this par excellence being nisin. Nisin and other LAB produced bacteriocins have been shown to be effective in the prevention of many pathogenic species (Ross 2002)​.

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Vinegar: From the Orleans Method to Food Lab Experiments

Added on by Ben Reade.

The most famous slow method of vinegar production is the old French technique, known as the Orleans method. In the Orleans method barrels are filled with wine and vinegar and fermentation is carried out slowly by the AAB, which will generally metabolise all the alcohol in a 9 % ethanol wine in 1 to 3 months. When fully acidified, the vinegar is racked off leaving around 12 L inside a 225 L barrel, which can then be filled up to around half full with fresh alcoholic ‘wine’. To make sure the AAB has enough oxygen available, holes are drilled through the ends of the barrel (then covered with muslin) and the barrel is only filled until half full, allowing the maximum surface area to be exposed to air.

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Acetic Fermentation - Vinegar

Added on by Ben Reade.

The principle result of acetous fermentation is vinegar. Vinegar, frequently considered a poor cousin in the realm of fermented foods can, when made with the right knowledge and aims, produce a high quality and expensive product (sometimes reaching prices of US$1/ml). Flavours of vinegars available on the market are generally quite limited and for this reason a need was felt at NFL to develop delicious vinegars with novel flavour combinations. For this reason, and the ease and high success rate of this type of fermentation, vinegars have become a favorite area of investigation for NFL. Historically vinegar has been used principally as food preservative, medicine and flavouring agent as well as a cleaning product, mordant or for odor removal. (Diggs, 1989) 

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An Ode to Alcohol

Added on by Ben Reade.

Around 800 species of yeast have been described by science (Boekout and Samson), this is thought to be a tiny fraction of the total number of living species. In FF, yeasts   are used primarily in alcoholic F. These include beer, wine, mead, sake, mirin as well as distilled alcoholic beverages such as vodka or schnapps. Leavened bread is also made using yeast. Yeast feed on sugars, principally glucose, when feeding in the presence of oxygen (aerobic conditions) producing energy (which they use) and carbon dioxide and water (which are discarded).  

Glucose + O2  (arrow)  CO2 + H2O + Energy

When without oxygen (anaerobic conditions) they can still (although less efficiently), produce chemical energy (ATP) but this time they produce CO2 and alcohol as products. In alcoholic fermentation of beverages, the liquids are denied oxygen using airlock systems to ensure alcoholic fermentation. In bread, the yeasts first use up available oxygen then begins its anaerobic respiration where it produces CO2 and ethanol, the CO2 accounts for the bubbles in the bread and the ethanol evaporates during cooking.

Glucose  (arrow)  CO2 + Ethanol + Energy

A certain amount of this happens in nature without intervention. Most of the skins from sugary fruits, grapes, apples, plums etc, are covered in a thin layer of wild yeasts (and other microorganisms). This means that as the fruit ripens, these yeasts will be using the available sugar. If we want to make a naturally fermented alcohol we can just leave the juices of sugar rich fruits in contact with their skins for a little while, and this small amount of contact should be enough to initiate alcoholic fermentation. The only thing to ensure if you want to use this natural fermentation method,  that once the must starts to bubble, i.e. the yeasts take hold and begin transforming the sugars, that you attach an airlock system, so that the CO2 can escape without allowing oxygen to enter the container.

Airlocking systems which can easily be used are: (A) a classic shop bought airlock, not good for very vigourous fermentation (B) a tube leaving the top of the bottle enters into a container of water, good for vigorous fermentation (C) A balloon attached to the top of the bottle, bad for vigousous fermentation, but useful for slow fermentations, especially as the quantity of gas produced can be seen visually in the size of the balloon.

To look at this from a global perspective it is fascinating to remember that animals not only drink and enjoy alcohol, but some may even have something of a ‘culture’ of making it.

“There are many monkeys in Haung Shan. In the spring and summer they collect miscellaneous flowers and fruits and store them in a rocky crevice. In time they would ferment into a wine. The fragrant aroma would be detectable hundreds of steps away. A woodcutter venturing deep into the woods may come upon it. But he should not drink too much lest the monkeys discover the reduction of the amount of fluid left. If so, they would lie in wait for the thief and playfully torture him to death” (Huang, 2000, 245)

 It is evident from fossils that fruit has played a major role in primate diet for at least the last 45 million years (Dudley and Stephens, 2004). As ripe fruits commonly contain yeasts it is expected that alcohol concentrations can be high enough to make plumes of alcohol in the air, which, when detected by aroma, can lead a primate to the fruit food source. It is argued that this is a possible basis for a genetic predisposition by humans toward alcohol as a hunger stimulant and indicator of nutritional value (Dudley, 2004). Indeed around 1/3 of the enzymes found in the human liver are involved in creating energy from alcohol (McGovern, 2010). Indeed it has been shown, especially in societies with lower hygiene, that drinking alcohol provides many functions, including the killing of pathogenic microorganisms in the gut. In all alcohol consuming societies, alcohol has been known to increase relaxation and social cohesion as well as uninhibiting libido, thus causing proliferation of alcohol consuming communities.

It is a popular opinion (although certainly not a definitive one) of archaeology and other humanities that populations gave up their nomadic lifestyles to take advantage of newly emerging innovative food production systems that evolved during the Neolithic revolution. Intentional and encouraged FF may have been one of them. Taking the earlier accounts of brewing monkeys and alcohol searching frugiverous primates as a starting point, it is easy to imagine humans developing alcoholic fermentation very early on in their cultural evolution.

Fermented foods are faster to cook, saving both time and fuel, have more accessible nutrients, provide interesting tastes to otherwise monotonous grain staples and can be more microbiologically safe. In the 1950’s a debate flared amongst archaeologists over which came first in human society, bread or beer. It was even argued that man might have lived on beer alone (Braidwood, 1953). The truth of the matter is much more likely to be that the two evolved together with prototypes being much more a slurry than the clarified beer or well-kneaded bread that we know so well today. It should be noted that a primitive beer could be much more nutritious than early man’s bread (McGovern, 2010).

It is thought that wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum) and other grains were first domesticated around 10,000 BP on the ‘Hilly Flanks’[1] between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.. This was the birth of western agriculture and also a time when a series of new food preparation techniques such as soaking, heating and spicing first appeared. During times of plenty, grains from wild or cultivated grasses, or juices from fruits that had been collected would have, in a matter of a couple of days, started to ferment on their own. This process, which would have been unpredictable at best, was slowly developed as early peoples began to work out the complex relationships between the ingredients of a mixture and the time and conditions in which it was left.

The Neolithic revolution was possibly the single most important period in the history of humanity; Neolithic peoples in the Fertile Crescent (11,000 BP); the Yangtze and Yello River Basins (9000 BP); the New Guinea Highlands (9000-6000 BP); Sub-Saharan Africa (5000-4000 BP) and Eastern USA (4000-3000 BP) and possibly other places (Diamond and Bellwood, 2003) are credited with the invention of agriculture and of many foods, which continue to be consumed as staple foods to the present  day, such as bread and beer. To start with, wet, and especially germinated grain would have started to ferment on its own, boiled grains and the juice of overripe fruits starting to bubble away  – it would not have taken long for people to realize that those which turned alcoholic could give them an exciting and desirable psychological journey as well as social and medical benefits. Successful fermentation techniques spread between neighboring communities, and were developed in terms of available resources.

In the Nordic tradition perhaps the most interesting of ancient alcoholic beverages were derived from mixes of ingredients – an archaeological approach allows us the analysis of a Bronze Age burial in Egtved, Denmark. In this grave, which dates approximately from 1400 BC, was found a coffin containing a 20-year-old girl clutching a burnt child and, interesting for our purposes, a birch-bark (Betula sp.) container. Upon close inspection analyst Bille Gram ascertained the vessel originally contained cowberries (Vaccinium vitus-idaea), wheat grains, filaments of bog myrtle (Myrica gale) and pollen from lime tree (Tilia sp), meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and white clover (Trifolium repens), indicating the presence of honey. All of these ingredients have a history of being used in alcoholic beverages: the conclusion that can be drawn is that this pot once contained a mixed alcoholic beverage, of cowberry fruit wine, wheat beer and honey mead. This practice of mixing many fermentable ingredients is typical of prototypical beverages that archaeologists have unearthed from ancient burials from around the world (McGovern, 2010). They have frequently found remnants of alcoholic beverages, which more often than not, have been made form a mixture of different ingredients. (McGovern, 2010, 144).

Mead is perhaps known as the Nordic brew of choice. Famously in the English poem Beowulf, the Danish warriors drank mead in great quantities. The drink appears numerous times in Nordic mythology (Sturluson, 1220). Mead has been developed over the years with countless variants available and text being readily available for the interested reader (for example Schramm, 2003).

One curiosity of the area is the Ancient Sami[2] culture of fermenting sap from the birch tree (Betula L.) to make a weak alcoholic beverage (approx 0.5-1% vol). The sap of the tree gives a marvelous bittersweet and floral flavour (similar but different to maple syrup) and is used in the brewing of Noma’s house beer.

Beer is well established in Nordic culture, Copenhagen being the birthplace of Carlsberg and other major breweries. A number of small, Danish artisan breweries, such as Fanoe Bryghus and Mikkeller are gaining market strength. Far from the purist influence of the German ‘Reinheitsgebot’ all sorts of extra spices and aromatics are being used, not only to increase the wealth and diversity of rich and aromatic finished beverages, but also to give expression of tradition and territory to the products (Fanoe brewery visit, 19/10/2011). In reality it can easily be argued that this is in fact a return to the origins of beer, originally a highly diverse culture of home brewing where many plants were added to the homemade brews, in the Nordic Countries; for example bog myrtle (Myrica gale) and labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum) (Behre, 1999). [3]

As many people have dedicated their lives to experimenting with alcohol, most of our experiments have used alcohols, tinctures and distillates prepared by others. Which have come in diverse flavours such as tinctures made with the lichen, Iceland moss (Cetraria islandica). A typical Danish bitters, Gammel Dansk now appears on the Noma desert menu, it contains a mixture of 29 herbs and spices, and is comparable to the Italian Fernet Branca or German Jagermiester.

Bibliography

Behre, K.E. (1999) The history of beer additives in Europe – a review, Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 8: 35.

Boekout, T. and Samson, R. (2005) Fungal diversity and food, in Nout, M.J.R., De Vos, W.M., Zwietering, M.H. (eds) Food Fermentation pp. 29-44, Wageningen Academic Publishers, The Netherlands.

Braidwood, R.J. (1953) Symposium: did man once live by beer alone?, AmericanAnthropologist New Series 55  : 515.

Diamond, J. and Bellwood, P. (2003) Farmers and their languages: the first expansions,  Science 300 :  597.

Dudley, R. (2004) Ethanol, fruit ripening, and the historical origins of human alcoholism in primate frugivory, Integrative & Comparative Biology 44: 315.

Dudley, R. and Stephens, D. (2004) The drunken monkey hypothesis, NaturalHistory 113 : 40.

Huang, H.T. (2000) Biology and biotechnology, in Needham, J. (ed) Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 6, Biology and Biological Technology, Part 5, Fermentations and Food Science, p. 245, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Sturlson, S. (1220) Edda ,Translated by Faulkes, A (1995) Everyman, London

Watson, P.J. (2005) Robert John Braidwood, Proceedings of The AmericanPhilosophical Society 149: 233.

About the author

My Name is Ben Reade, I’m a chef from Edinburgh, Scotland, and for the past 3.5 years I have been studying at The University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. For my final thesis, I came to Nordic Food Lab to research many subjects where my varied interests inerlaced with those of the Lab. The research arose out of time spent at the Nordic Food Lab between 29 September and 22 December 2011. The aim is to describe NFL’s current research to both chefs and non-specialized readers, explaining and coding the creative and scientific methodologies employed during the research at NFL, exploring their application in food experimentation and innovation. Over the next month or so I will be breaking down this thesis into manageable blog-style chunks, this is chunk 6ish of around 25 I hope you find it interesting. If you want to ask me any questions directly, I’m contactable on Twitter @benreade.

[1] The Hilly Flanks were first described by Robert Braidwood in 1948 as the area in the fertile crescent where agriculture was born. (Watson, 2005)

[2] Sami are an indigenous reindeer herding population of Northern Scandinavia

[3] For more information on practical aspects of beer brewing, readers are referred to Palmer (2006).

Fermentation : Traditional Biotechnology

Added on by Ben Reade.

The world of microorganisms is vast and, relative to other areas of biology, poorly understood at a scientific level. Through millennia of experimenting humans have developed methods for using this invisible, but expansive world of microorganisms. The microbial world is defined by size, the multitude of species that this bracket covers is of varying taxonomic groups, and the variety within each is astounding. Taking the example of fungi, there are approximately 74,000 described of an estimated 1,500,000. Biologists have described around 3000 bacteria, which is an estimated 0.5% of the total bacterial species on planet earth (Boekout and Samson, 2005). Especially when compared to plants, where approximately 220,000 species have been described out of an estimated 270,000, these numbers give one an idea of just how hugely unexplored this invisible living world of taste biodiversity really is. 

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Practical Guide to Yeast Extraction

Added on by Ben Reade.

Love for the umami tasting compounds that yeast extract can give led NFL to investigate the process of making yeast extracts; the secrets of which are closely guarded by the flavour industry. Our aim was to produce a delicious yeast extract that could be useful in food production. Yeast is a an underutilized waste product of the brewing industry (Ferreira, 2010), however, if waste yeast is taken from the bioethanol industry it may not need to be debittered as it contains no bitter chemicals (especially humulene) from the hops used to make beer. Other uses for waste yeast include the manufacture of Single Cell Proteins (SCP), a term coined in the 1960s to define microbial biomass from fermentations. SCP have been shown to be promising in filling a global protein deficit although currently most waste yeast is used as animal feed (Ugalde and Castrillo 1992). During the Second World War  most protein consumed in Germany was from yeast, and the English yeast extract, ‘Marmite’ was invented during the same challenging times to assist public health in Britain (Ugalde and Castrillo 1992).

Yeast extract production is normally carried out through the process of autolysis triggered by salt. Autolysis is the process by which a cell will consume itself using enzymes contained within the same cell. Origane et al (1993) found that addition of the fat binding chitosan (extractd from prawn shells) improved autolysis. We found that this helped not only autolysis but also caused a reduction in bitterness – presumable because many bitter compounds are capable of a type of chemical binding compatible with chitosan. Autolysis involves a freeing of enzymes within the yeasts in order to break down the yeast proteins. The protein should be hydrolysed as far as possible into individual amino acids to increase content of umami tasting compounds however, amino acids are also sweet and bitter, or a mixture, so the type of yeast used can have a large effect on the final product. To help with lysis the extract can be performed using extrogenous hydrolyzing enzymes (Sombutyanuchit et al 2001). Hyoky (1997) also found the breakdown of yeasts using extrogenous enzymes to be fruitful- we have used this technique in the creation of in the recipe supplied in this post, where we use koji as a source of hydrolyzing enzymes. However, if you don’t want to make koji, autolysis with endogenous enzymes is normally adequate for processing (Cahyanto et al, 2011).

Boonyeun (2011) found that amino acid content can be enhanced by a two stage autolysis. The first stage encourages breakdown through high enzyme protein concentration, the second, by dilution with water causes a higher concentration gradient leading to higher extraction from yeast cells. Yeast extracts may also contain 5’-GMP, a compound often found in mushrooms, which is synergistic with glutamate, increasing umami taste.

Ideal temperatures for autolysis depend on exact strains and desired results. Tangluer and Erten (2008) found that 50°C for 24 hours was ideal for autolysis. We found that a period at 50°C and a period at the raised temperature of 56°C to encourage optimize enzymatic action raised the acceptability of the extract – however, each type of yeast should be investigated individually.

To sterilize and encourage flavour enhancing Maillard reactions, the extract can be treated in a pressure cooker at 115°C for 20 mins before being reduced in volume through evaporation (Ke-de, 2006). Polymeric absorbents (especially Amberlite XAD-16 and Amberlite XAD-765) have been used to remove bitterness and yeast flavour from yeast extracts while keeping desirable components including yeast peptides, amino acids and neucleotides (Hyoky, 1997; Kerler and Winkel, 2002).

Cahyanto et al (2011) found that optimum pH of autolysis was at pH5. In commercial processing pH is adjusted with NaOH and HCl. Both of these chemicals leave traces in the final product, which, due to a desire of NFL to use natural products, was not considered optimal. Raising pH to strongly alkali is also used industrially in the debittering process. Instead of adjusting pH using Alkali NaOH, we used birch ash, rich in K2CO3 (a salt which forms a strongly alkali solution) The ash is also considered by many as having health promoting qualities. For acidifying the mixture afterwards, a strong vinegar was used and results were very delicious.

So, how does one actually make it, the recipe below tells you how to make it with a centrifuge (no, not a juicer, but one of the things used in hospitals for separating blood by spinning it super fast), however, we started this investigation before we had a centrifuge, and carried out most of the separation with coffee filters, a lengthy, but successful method. The recipe below also calls for the use of a koji extract. This was used in creating particularly delicious yeast extracts, but, as mentioned above, the enzymes within the yeast cells, should be enough for a fairly thorough breakdown if you want to make it without the koji extract then you should add water in the place of the extract.

 Bibliography

Boonyeun, P. et al (2011) Enhancement of amino acid production by two step autolysis of spent brewer’s yeast, Chemical Engineering Communications 198 : 1594.

Cahyanto, M.N. et al. (2011) Production of yeast extract from ethanol fermentation waste, The 12th ASEAN Food Conference, 16 -18 June, 2011 Bangkok

Ferreira, I. M. P. L. V. O. et al (2010) Brewer’s Saccharomyces yeast biomass: characteristics and potential applications, Trends in Food Science & Technology 21 : 77.

Hyoky et al (1997) Non-bitter yeast extract, Trends in Food Science & Technology 8 : 383.

Kerler, J. and Winkel, C. (2002) The basic chemistry and process conditions underpinning reaction flavour production’, in Taylor, A.J (ed), Food FlavourTechnology,  pp. 27-52, CRC Press, Sheffield, UK.

Origane, A. and Sato, T. (1993) Process for producing yeast extract, USA, Patent No 5188852.

Sombutyanuchit, P. et al (2001) Preperation of 5’-GMP-rich yeast extracts from spent brewer’s yeast, World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 17 : 163.

Tanguler, H. and Erten, H. (2008) Utilization of spent brewer’s yeast for yeast extract production by autolysis: The effect of temperature, Food and BioproductsProcessing 86 : 317.

Ugalde, U.P. and Castrillo J.I. (2002) Single cell protiens from Fungi and Yeasts, Applied Mycology and Biotechnology, 2 : 123.

About the author

My Name is Ben Reade, I’m a chef from Edinburgh, Scotland, and for the past 3.5 years I have been studying at The University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. For my final thesis, I came to Nordic Food Lab to research many subjects where my varied interests inerlaced with those of the Lab. The research arose out of time spent at the Nordic Food Lab between 29 September and 22 December 2011. The aim is to describe NFL’s current research to both chefs and non-specialized readers, explaining and coding the creative and scientific methodologies employed during the research at NFL, exploring their application in food experimentation and innovation. Over the next month or so I will be breaking down this thesis into manageable blog-style chunks, this is chunk 6ish of around 25 I hope you find it interesting. If you want to ask me any questions directly, I’m contactable on Twitter @benreade.

Yellow Pea Chiang Yu

Added on by Ben Reade.

Chiang is the Chinese prototype of the Japanese miso, and chiang yu is, directly translated, the 'oil of miso' otherwise known as soy sauce. Variations of which are a staple condiment for much of Asia, has an ancient history, the first written reports of precursors occurring during the 2nd Century (Huang, 2000). The first prototypes for the modern soy fermentations were carried out using meat and fish as fermentation substrates. The sauces would have been very dark with small particles of enzyme-digested meat in salt solution, and a high level of umami taste. These chiang yu prototypes would have been very varied and it is said that Confucious would not eat a food without its proper fermented sauce (Huang, 2000). The history of soy sauce most probably starts with solid soy bean fermentations which were subsequently diluted with vinegar (Huang, 2000). Now the common practice is to ferment the sauce with brine, to extract amino acids from proteinous soybeans. At NFL investigation was carried out into the possibility of the creation and use of Nordic adaptations of both soy sauce and its close relative, miso.

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Umami Arising from Salt Rich Fermentations

Added on by Ben Reade.

Salt rich fermentations can be used to create high level of umami taste. Often the salt shuts off most possibility for microbial activity, so enzymes perform most of the protein breakdown required for umami taste. These enzymes may be naturally in the fermentation substrate (endogenous), or may be added (exogenous). To add, many salt rich fermentations, especially those which will later become sauces, regardless of how delicious they might be are brown in colour are not very photogenic - so photos today are really a bit random. Salt rich fermentations are often used in creating food products that are both rich in acid (especially lactic acid, as many species of lactic acid bacteria manage to live in salt rich solutions) and in umami, due to the enzymatic activity on proteins (especially in legumes, meat and fish). Some yeast species are salt tolerant (eg. Zygosaccharomyces rouxii) meaning that some salt rich ferments are also quite rich in alcohols. In the following couple of posts there follows a brief look two of NFL’s more successful forays into salt rich fermentation, today, fish sauce and, definately worth returning for tomorrow (new post tomorrow morning), a Nordic variation on soy sauce. Happy umami hunting!

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Umami and Dashi

Added on by Ben Reade.

In 1825, Brillat-Savarin wrote in the ‘Physiology of taste’ about ‘osmazome’ which he described as “the purely sapid portion of flesh soluble in cold water… …the most meritorious ingredient in all good soups”. He was, we assume, writing of what is now known as the umami taste. The word umami was suggested in 1908 by the Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda. Umami is a composite word constructed from the Japanese words ‘umai’ – delicious and ‘mi’ – essence or taste (Mouritsen et al 2011). High levels of umami are found in a number of products familiar to (although certainly not all originating in) the Nordic region. Notable examples include mature hard cheese, cured anchovies, fish sauce, yeast extracts, tomatoes, soy sauce, meat stocks, cured meats, bottarga and fish liver. The umami taste is principally due to monosodium glutamate (glutamate, MSG or, when used as an additive in Europe, E621) and certain 5’riboneuceotides, which are synergistic with glutamate, increasing umami taste.

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Hello Sweetness!

Added on by Ben Reade.

Sweetness, one of the basic tastes, is of vital importance to cuisine. Although table sugar (sucrose) is generally seen as the basic ingredient and reference point for sweetness, NNC tends to steer away from overly sweet dishes, preferring to use little of no table sugar and taking sweetness from other ingredients, which are relevant to the region. Examples are given below of sources of sweetness which are or are becoming relevant to New Nordic Cuisine.

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Bitterness, Fire and Alkali

Added on by Ben Reade.

Bitterness is a very intriguing taste. Humans are born with an aversion to bitter tastes (Morini, 2007) and through life we learn to appreciate bitterness, many adults actively searching the taste in their food. Bitter tasting molecules are hugely diverse, with little or no chemical characteristics grouping them together as a unit. Bitterness is thought to be a survival mechanism for recognizing toxins in our environment, most poisons are very bitter. As we grow older however humans develop knowledge of what can and cannot be eaten. This knowledge removes some of the need to have an aversion response to the taste and the tendency is that humans start to appreciate bitter taste when it is not too strong. This is useful, as many bitter compounds act as anti-oxidants, which slow the body’s aging. In NNC, there is a big focus on vegetables, especially green and bitter varieties, often from the botanical family brassicaceae and the multitude of wild herbs all tend to have a certain bitter taste. Bitterness can also be added or removed from dishes though processing technique. Examples of techniques that add a bitter note are the Maillard reactions between amino acids and sugars (especially in the presence of heat). Maillard reactions can be increased in alkali environment, for example, adding a pinch of sodium bicarbonate to browning onions will increase the speed with which they develop the distinctive ‘toasted’ and ‘dark’ flavours.

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Capturing Aroma

Added on by Ben Reade.

Aroma can be captured in a number of different ways. As explained in the previous post this should be taken seriously in the modern kitchen as it allows great scope for innovation. In our quest to get the most of aroma, we wanted to be able to capture the aroma which fills the room when heating ingredients. For this reason apparatus was developed as a system of aroma capturing, based on a crude distillation still. While we have breifly mentioned the aparatus in a previous post, now I'll tell you exactly how to use it. BUT, pressure cookers and heat and vapours can be dangerous, and if you are careless, the whole contraption could blow up in your face, while I see this a pretty safe, others may not concider it as such - so dont come crying to me if it all goes wrong! The equipment is made using (mostly) standard kitchen apparatus (except some plastic tubing, small grommets and cotton wool). I hope that the ease with which this apparatus can be assembled and used will inspire artisan cooks in the house and restaurant kitchen, as well as those interested in more industrial style technique, to recognize the potential of the apparatus.

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Aromatic Plants

Added on by Ben Reade.

The story goes that Nero’s palace was filled with doves that flew with perfumed wings: the collection and application of aromas continues to be a very important feature of the modern kitchen, though at NFL there has been attempt to match Nero’s style and more modern techniques like fans, or perfumed cushions under plates are cleaner and more efficient (if less charismatic). Mention has been made that flavour molecules are volatile, or aromatic molecules. In relation to food this is relevant  as they can become airborne at the temperature of the mouth (above 33°C) to then pass via the throat in 'retro-nasal' sensing to then be perceived by the brain as a part of flavour. At NFL, to help with and the creative processes, a list has been compiled of plants that have been embraced by New Nordic Cuisine, especially for their distinctive aroma. 

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Taste and Flavour

Added on by Ben Reade.

In this section we explore flavour, focusing on using the available scientific knowledge to help chefs and other food industry professionals to develop new concepts, techniques and recipes. As chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of the famous Basque restaurant Mugaritz  writes (in collaboration with Arboleya et al (2008), “cooking and science are well placed to work in harmony for both the development and realization of innovative and [healthy] dishes.”  While studying how, at NFL, scientific knowledge can help chefs utilize the full potential of ingredients, novelty should not be pursued for it’s own sake. While new techniques can and should be used when relevant, these are tools to achieve an end, the end being more important than the means (Adria et al 2006). 

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