Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Myth: The recipe I prepared doesn’t taste like it used to – something must be wrong with an ingredient.

Answer: BUSTED!

Illustration of 4 senses - vision, hearing, smell and taste
Yes, something could be wrong with an ingredient, but if you are of a certain age then your taste may be the reason. Smell actually accounts for most of how we perceive taste and it decreases during our 50’s and continues to do so as we get older. Why? Some reasons include loss of nerve cells that detect food smells and less mucus in the nose (which helps to keep the smell of food in the nose longer). Our taste buds also decrease in our 50’s (a little later for men). Of course, taste may also be affected by sinus conditions, colds, medications, smoking, radiation and chemotherapy.

Is there anything that can be done to increase taste and enjoyment of foods? Here are some tips to help:
  • Store ingredients properly so quality doesn’t decrease. 
  • Take care when cooking – don’t overcook or this may destroy some flavor.
  • Try new bold flavors and ingredients like garlic, flavored vinegars, chili peppers or sharp aged cheese.
  • Herbs and spices can also add bold flavors. Some examples are basil, chives, cilantro, rosemary, sage, cinnamon, cloves and anise. Crumble dried herbs to release aroma. Toast whole spices such as cloves, coriander and cumin seeds to bring out more of their aroma and then grind before using.
  • Reduced soy sauce has less sodium per teaspoon than salt and adds aroma and umami, which adds a depth to dishes with its savory taste.
  • How you cook may also help your taste. Broiling, grilling or searing of fish, poultry and meat deepens their flavor.
  • Visual appeal will help you enjoy your meals. Use bright colors, different shapes and textures.
  • Slow down and enjoy! Chewing food longer releases more flavor from your food.

Check out Nothing tastes good anymore for more information.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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