Fat = Flavor?

I’ve been hearing this phrase a LOT these days. And although I appreciate the amazing alliteration, the hair on the back of my neck bristles whenever I hear it.

Let’s break it down into a mathematical formula.

In the equation 3 X 5 = 15, at no point does 5 = 15. 5 is but a component of the equation.

It’s the same way with fat, although, the equation is a little more complex.

Flavor is a combination of fat and water soluble flavor compounds, mixed with the 5 scientifically approved tongue sensations: sour, salt, bitter, sweet, and savory (I personally believe there are quite a few additional tongue sensations, such as spicy, and acerbic, but that’s a topic for another time).

First, let’s talk about fat and water soluble flavor compounds, we’ll use the tomato as an example.

A vine ripened/home grown tomato is one of the things in this world that money can’t buy. The delicious richness that can only be achieved by picking it at its peak is unparalleled.

Tomato’s are also FULL of the antioxidant lycopene, a fat soluble compound that does contribute flavor. In addition, they are full of ascorbic acid, a water soluble compound. Since tomatoes already have quite a bit of water, it’s easy to taste ascorbic acid’s contribution. However, have you ever noticed that by drizzling a little oil over tomatoes, they taste completely different? The fat soluble flavor compounds now have an easier way to find their way to your nose, which makes the flavor more intense.

So while it’s true that fat increases the amount of available fat soluble compounds, thereby increasing the overall flavor, it doesn’t equal flavor. It is but a component in the equation.

1 comment to Fat = Flavor?

  • Luke

    Do you know of any resource you can point me to that would list ingredients/flavors in categories of fat-solubility vs water-solubility, or that would recommend techniques for double-extracting various ingredients as you have done here with the tomato?

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