Giving brief electric shocks to fresh herbs before drying them could improve the taste of dried herbs, say food technologists and biologists at Sweden's Lund University. Jim Drury reports.
Fresh basil is a tasty herb loved by millions. But when it's dried and put in jars it can lose taste and aroma. These researchers say they've found a way to make dried herbs taste almost as good as fresh... ...by giving them short electric shocks. The shocks open up the leaf's pores. SOUNDBITE (English) FEDERICO GOMEZ, FOOD TECHNOLOGY RESEARCHER AT THE LUND UNIVERSITY FACULTY OF ENGINEERING, SAYING: "Leaves, like aromatic herbs like basil or dill, they are very sensitive to drying, so they lose colour very quickly and lose aromas during drying. So with the technology here what we do is to affect the leaf in the way these pores are damaged and then they're permanently opened and the dehydration is faster." The technique halves the drying time, cutting commercial costs. The team plan to test their technique on dill and oregano. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR IN PLANT PHYSIOLOGY AT LUND UNIVERSITY, ALLAN RASMUSSON, SAYING: "I think it's marvellous that you can affect biological processes it can actually produce an increased wellbeing to people by having much more taste in a handy product like dried herbs." The researchers applied for a patent for the technique and are working with a private company to scale it up and launch commercially.