Thursday, September 03, 2009

Taste Affecting Factors

Taste Affecting Factors
People vary in their sensitivity to different tastes. Sensitivity depends on the length of time allowed to taste a substance.

Sweet and salt tastes are detected quickly (in less than a second), because they are detected by taste buds in the tip of the tongue, in addition, they are usually very soluble compounds.

Bitter compounds, on the other hand may take a full second to be detected because they are detected at the back of the tongue.

The taste may linger, producing a bitter aftertaste. Sensitivity to a particular taste also depends on the concentration of the substance responsible for the taste.

The threshold concentration is defined as the concentration required for identification of a particular substance.

The threshold concentration may vary from person to a person: some people are more sensitive to a particular taste than others and therefore are able to detect it at a lower concentration.

Below a threshold concentration, a substance would not be identified but may affect the perception of another taste.

For example subthreshold salt levels increase perceived sweetness and decrease perceived acidity, whereas subthreshold sugar concentrations make a food taste less salty than it actually is.

Although it is not clear why, flavor enhancers such as MSG also affect taste sensitivity by intensifying a particular taste in a food.

Temperature of food also affects its flavor. Warm foods generally taste stronger and sweeter than cold foods. For example, melted ice cream tastes much sweeter than frozen ice cream.

There are two reasons for the effects of temperature on flavor. The volatility of substance is increased at higher temperatures, and so they smell stronger.

Taste bud receptivity also is an important factor. Taste buds are most receptive in the region between 68 and 86 degree F and so taste will be more intense in this temperature range.

Psychological factor also affect taste sensitivity and perception. Judgments about flavor are often influenced by preconceived ideas based on the appearance of the food or on previous experience with a similar food.

For example, strawberry flavored foods would be expected to be red. However, if colored green, because of the association of green foods with flavors such as lime, it would be difficult to identify the flavor as strawberry unless it was very strong.

Color intensity also affects flavor perception. A stronger color may also cause perception of a stronger flavor in a product, even of the stronger color is simply due to the addition of more food coloring.

Texture also can be misleading. A thicker product may be perceived as tasting richer or stronger simply because it is thicker and not because the thickening agent affects the flavor of the food.

Other psychological factors that may come into play when making judgments about the flavor of foods include time of day (for example, certain tastes are preferred at breakfast time), general sense of well being, health and previous reactions to a particular food or taste.
Taste Affecting Factors
 
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