Seasonings and Flavorings

Imagine eating food without any flavor. Or, imagine that you ate several foods that all had the same flavor. This does not sound very appetizing, does it? Customers expect flavorful dishes when they visit a restaurant. Fortunately, foods have their own natural flavoring. Sometimes, however, these flavors need to be strengthened. Foodservice professionals use seasonings, flavorings, and flavor enhancers to help.

Enhancing the natural flavor of foods is part of the art of cooking. You need to understand how the flavor of food can be enhanced to work successfully in food production. Using seasonings and flavorings correctly is a skill that develops over time. Tasting foods throughout the cooking process will help you develop this skill.

Both seasonings and flavorings improve or strengthen the natural flavor of foods. A seasoning is an ingredient that intensifies or improves food without changing the food's natural flavor. If a seasoning is used correctly, the individual flavor of a seasoning cannot be tasted in the food product itself.

Some seasonings are called flavor enhancers. A flavor enhancer increases the way you perceive the food's flavor without changing the actual flavor of the prepared dish. They do not add flavor to a dish. Flavor enhancers do this by affecting your taste buds. Monosodium glutamate (,ma-n9-,so-de-9m 'glu-ts-ma t), or MSG, is an example of a flavor enhancer. It intensifies the flavor of savory foods.

A flavoring, on the other hand, is an ingredient that actually changes the natural flavor of the foods to which it is added. This enhances the experience of tasting the dish.

Season with Salt Salt comes in many varieties. What four kinds of salt are most often used in foodservice?

Flavorings have their own distinct, or separate and unique, flavors. An extract, or a concentrated flavor such as almond and vanilla, are flavorings.

A wide variety of ingredients can be used as seasonings, flavorings, and flavor enhancers. Salt and pepper are two of the most common seasonings that are used. A more detailed description of these ingredients follows.

Salt

Salt is the most commonly used food seasoning today. It can be added to most foods, even some sweet foods, to heighten flavor. Salt has a more distinctive taste on cool foods than on hot foods.

Table salt is the most common type of salt used in both food preparation and to season food at the table. There are other types of salt used in the foodservice industry as well. Rock salt usually is used as a bed during baking for foods such as clams, oysters, and potatoes. Sea salt is preferred by some chefs because it has a strong, distinctive flavor. Kosher salt is coarse and free of iodine or other additives. It has a milder flavor. Chefs also like to use kosher salt to season food during preparation.

The amount of salt that is added to food depends on the food that is being cooked. It also depends on the preference of the diner. Taste food before you add more salt to a dish. You can always add more salt, but you cannot remove it. Too much salt can ruin a dish.

Pepper

Pepper is the most widely used spice in the world. A spice is an aromatic vegetable product that blends with the natural flavor of foods. Pepper has been used since ancient times, in civilizations from Ancient Egypt to Ancient Rome to India. In the Middle Ages, pepper was widely traded and commonly used as a form of currency.

Pepper is usually used in its ground form rather than as whole peppercorns. Ground pepper brings out the flavor of many foods.

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