Small Bites

MSG Allergies Recent studies have shown that MSG is not dangerous to people unless they are sensitive to it. People who have food allergies, or are sensitive to certain ingredients, should avoid eating foods that contain those ingredients.

Monosodium Glutamate

Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is a type of salt that comes from seaweed. It intensifies the natural flavor of most of the foods to which it is added. It also provides a savory flavor to food. For example, MSG is often added to vegetables, poultry, and fish to bring out more flavor. However, MSG has no effect on the flavor of milk products or fruits. Some people are sensitive or allergic to MSG. Be sure to label its use in your recipes and on your menu to keep customers safe and healthy.

Onion Family The foods shown here belong to the onion family. How are they used to flavor different foods?

When to Season

As a general rule, you can season food at any time during the cooking process. However, certain forms of food lend, or adapt, themselves to adding seasoning at certain times. For example, when you cook a dish such as soup, in which the seasoning can mingle easily with the food, you can add seasonings during the entire cooking process. However, you should wait until the end of the cooking process before you add salt.

On the other hand, when you cook large pieces of food, such as a roast, you should add your seasonings at the beginning of the cooking process. If you add the seasonings early enough in the cooking process, it allows enough time for the seasonings to be absorbed effectively throughout the food. A roast has a long cooking time, so it will have plenty of time to absorb the seasonings.

You may choose to add your seasonings throughout the cooking process. However, you must be sure to taste the food and evaluate its flavor. Overseasoning can overpower and ruin the natural flavor of food. Dried seasonings should be added earlier in the cooking process than fresh seasonings.

Adding Flavor

Flavorings also can be added to food during the cooking process. However, the effects of flavorings on prepared food will depend on the length of the cooking time. You need to know how long the food must cook before you can decide when to add any flavorings.

Flavorings need heat to release their flavors. They also need time to blend with the natural flavors of the food to which they are added. For example, whole spices, such as ginger or whole peppercorns, take longer to be absorbed into food than ground spices. You will need to think about this timing when you add flavorings to foods during cooking. Flavorings should not be overcooked, however. Overcooked flavorings quickly lose their effect.

Some flavorings are considered blends. A blend is a combination of herbs, spices, and seeds. Chili powder, curry powder, and garlic salt are examples of blends. These are ready-made dried products that can be purchased from a supplier or created in a commercial kitchen. Blends can be created ahead of time, or on the spot. Some foodservice businesses have their own signature blends. Customers may sometimes purchase containers of these blends to take home for use in their own kitchens. When herbs are used together with spices in the form of a blend, they complement each other by enhancing the flavor of the food and of each other.

Enhancing food is a learned skill. It will take a great deal of practice to learn how to season and flavor food without overpowering the food. Practice combining flavors to see what effects you can achieve. Constantly taste food to determine the right level of seasoning for each dish.

is the difference between a seasoning and a flavoring?

Continue reading here: Academic Vocabulary

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