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Electricity makes dried spices taste like fresh

Dried spices have much less taste and smell compared to fresh spices, but soon that will change. Researchers at the Faculty of Engineering and the Department of Biology at Lund University have together discovered a way to preserve flavour and aroma when spices are dried.
Allan Rasmusson holding a flower.
Photo: Chatarina Mattsson.

A group of researchers lead by Associate Professor Federico Gomez at the Department of Food Technology together with Allan Rasmusson, Professor at the Department of Biology, have discovered that the time it takes to dry basil is considerably shorter if the fresh leaves are exposed to electricity.

Open up the pores

The discovery is based on the fact that the pores of the leaves emit water vapour, but when a plant senses it has a shortage of water it closes it’s pores. For example, the pores are closed when plants are being dried, something that leads to the decomposition of flavouring substances.

- We realized we could force the pores of the leaves to open up using electrical pulses. In this way, the basil dries much quicker without the flavouring substances decomposing, says Allan Rasmusson.

Develop the technique

He emphasizes that the electrical pulses the leaves are exposed to only are only a fraction of the electrical voltage in a fence surrounding pasture land where cattle graze in the countryside. The electrical voltage used by the researchers does very little harm. The only result is that the pores of the basil leaves open up.

The next step for the researchers is to develop the technique. It will also be tested on dill.

Allan Rasmusson at the lab.
Photo: Chatarina Mattsson

Text by Jan Olsson 

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