The Role of Texture in Food and Drink
Eating is a sensory experience, and how food looks, smells, and feels in the mouth helps us decide whether we enjoy it. Texture can affect how people perceive taste, providing endless opportunities for innovation. While most people take texture for granted, big brands often spend hundreds of hours perfecting it before releasing a new snack bar, soup, or frozen dessert.
What is Food Texture, and Why is it Important?
Food texture is often called mouthfeel, which refers to the physical sensations you experience in your mouth while eating a specific food. We experience texture with our tongue, cheeks, teeth, and palate. Food can be crunchy, chewy, hard, soft, smooth, lumpy, or a combination of many textures, each adding to the overall taste experience.
Texture is important because it gives us more information about a food’s structure and how to eat it. Toddlers and children use texture to differentiate between foods they can and can’t manipulate in their mouths while their facial muscles are developing.
Everyone Experiences Food Texture Differently
Why do some people enjoy slimy foods while others can’t stand them? It mostly comes down to culture. In Western cultures, people tend to avoid chewy, irregular textures, which are commonplace in many Eastern cuisines. People also learn most of their textural preferences from their parents, so children who grew up eating crispy bacon will probably never enjoy it any other way.
However, we can extend our palates by traveling to new places and trying exotic foods. People often feel more adventurous on holiday, allowing them to discover different textures and incorporate them into their daily diets.
Studies also indicate that the time of day can influence how we experience texture. People prefer familiar textures at breakfast and are often wary of foods that may be difficult to swallow and digest. Conversely, dinner time is when most people explore new textures, followed by a soothing, creamy dessert that leaves a pleasant feeling in the mouth.
How Texture Influences Taste
While we mostly use our senses of taste and smell to experience flavors, texture plays a significant role too. Texture can attract or detract from a food’s other flavors, often causing us to perceive it as saltier or sweeter than it is. Chefs often use ingredients with different textures to create interesting dishes and unexpected culinary experiences. For example, pairing creamy desserts with crunchy fruits or velvety soups with chewy bread.
Subtle texture differences can enhance the taste of low-viscosity foods, and many food scientists believe it could help people reduce their fat intake. Adding ingredients that coat the mouth can make foods like sorbet seem creamier and more satisfying, even though they’re naturally low in fat.
Making Food More Flavorful Without Affecting the Texture
Texture can make or break a dish, so food manufacturers must consider it when flavoring food. Adding whole foods like fruits, nuts, and seeds to a dish affects its moisture content, which can alter the texture completely. These ingredients also spoil easily, reducing the food’s overall shelf-life. That’s why many brands prefer liquid or powdered extracts and distillates, which offer potent, water-soluble flavor and scent without significantly changing the food’s texture.
Find Delicious Flavorings to Complement Any Food Texture
Advanced Biotech is a trusted supplier of natural flavorings and aromatics for the food and beverage industry. Our range has something for almost any flavor profile, from sweet and fruity to spicy and smoky. Texture, flavor, and scent must be cohesive to create a robust taste experience. Please contact us for more information.