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Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Smell of a Beet (and other things)

They (beets) don't taste like dirt.

Just for fun and to prime you for a discussion on Sea Buckthorn aroma.  Beets get their earthy flavor from geosmin, an organic compound produced by microbes in the soil.  Geosmin gives off a smell like freshly plowed earth or a field after a rainstorm.  Human noses are very sensitive to geosmin. Other foods high in geosmin in include spinach, lettuce, and mushrooms.  That's a little primer for the chemical relationship to smell and food. 

The Aroma of Seaberries

The University of Turku in Finland completed an exhaustive scientific study of what aromas there were in different species of Sea Buckthorn Berries.  I read a ton of these type of papers on various topics and, believe me, unless you are a science wonk, they are difficult to digest.  Lucky for you, I am such a wonk and enjoy trying to summarize the good parts and make them interesting.  The last part of this post has to do with chickens.  Will I still be talking about odors? You'll just have to read on.  
Back to the aroma analysis of Sea Buckthorn.....  Taste has a lot to do with flavor as you well know so this is important stuff.  Of the four types of seaberries evaluated,  two were from Mongolia ("Avhustinka", and "Trofimovskaja"), one from Russia ("Raisa"), and one wild strain (subspecies ssp. sinensis).  Good to note here that the seeds and plants we offer here at Foxgreen Farm, LLC and on are of the wild strain (ssp. sinensis) variety.
How were they evaluated, what was the criteria?  Glad you asked.  
  • Total odor intensity
  • Green odor intensity
  • Fresh/Sweet odor intensity
  • Pungent odor intensity and
  • Fermented odor intesity
The cause of odors in general are, of course chemical compounds.  Are these good for you?  I'm sure there has been an analysis done on the subject but you have a nose and taste buds for a reason and I'll bet it has more to do with health than pleasure.
There were a total of 91 compounds detected as factors in Sea Buckthorn aroma.  The most were found in the wild sinenes strain. (smile)  The wild type differed most overall.  The intensity of fermented odor was stronger, it was least pungent and had a type of sweetness which was mellower.  
The study is much more detailed and explains the levels of many volatile compounds and their associated odors like sweet, strawberry, fruity, sour, even odors like mushroom, fertilizer, plastic, compost and coconut etc.  The discussion of odors separate from taste is unusual, but important in many foods.  Sea Buckthorn berries, leaves, bark and root products are in their infancy yet there has never been a more gifted plant with such potential.  So will the analysis of the odors from various types be helpful?  I think it already has since it appears the most wild and natural version of the plant seems to be the most diverse. 

Follow your nose.

Myself (Tom) and Craig, who is still in Afghanistan are about to launch a Indiegogo campaign.  We would like your help.  The Icelandic Chicken or "Viking Chicken" may be one of the most endangered and most useful chicken to temperate permaculture farms.  Please become a team member on the project and share the effort with the world.  If you would like to join our team on this project please fill out the form here.  Thanks !!!


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