Cleansing the palate, or clearing the taste buds of one taste to prepare them for a new one, is commonly discussed in wine tastings. However, you might find cleansing your palate useful in any setting where you're eating foods with competing tastes, such as a chocolate, beer or cheese tasting, sushi dinner or a typical multicourse meal. Some people choose liquids, such as water or tea, to cleanse their palates, but you can use a variety of foods for this purpose.
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Lemon sorbet provides a tart, clean flavor that can help rid your palate of the taste of a previous food or drink course. Considered a traditional palate cleanser, sorbet -- including lemon sorbet -- generally consists of water, juice or pulp of a fruit and sugar, according to a September 2009 article in "The Boston Globe." Commercial brands might include preservatives and stabilizers. Sorbet to cleanse the palate can feature other flavors to effectively clear taste buds. The "Daily News Record" online offers a recipe for grapefruit graniti to cleanse the mouth of flavors, and "The Washington Post" featured winter citrus sorbet made with the juice of tangelos, oranges and blood oranges in a January 2007 article.
Pickled ginger traditionally is used as a palate cleanser between different types and flavors of sushi. The February 2008 issue of "The Virginia Informer" notes that pickled ginger should never be eaten on sushi. The article recommends eating a thin slice of this ginger to remove the taste of the sushi you have just eaten before moving on to your next piece. You can purchase pickled ginger at grocery stores in the Japanese foods section, although "Fine Cooking" magazine offers a recipe for homemade pickled ginger that contains fresh, sliced ginger, rice vinegar, sugar and salt. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Table Water Crackers
Eating table water crackers -- thin, dry crackers made with flour and water that have a crispy texture -- effectively cleanses the palate of almost any flavor. A research study, "Efficacy of Various Palate Cleansers with Representative Foods" published in the February 2009 journal "Chemosensory Perception," indicates that table water crackers successfully cleansed the palate of test subjects of all flavors, including sweet, bitter, fatty, astringent, hot/spicy, cooling and non-lingering. It was the only palate cleanser in the study that cleared the taste buds of all tested flavors. You can buy table water crackers in the cracker aisle of your grocery store or make them at home.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- The Washington Post: Winter Sorbet
- The Virginia Informer: Finger Food
- Fine Cooking: Homemade Pickled Ginger
- The New York Times: Parmesan Cream Crackers
- Chemosensory Perception: Efficacy of Various Palate Cleansers with Representative Foods
- Boston Globe: Lemon Sorbet Taste Test
- Fine Cooking: My Kind of Party--A Chocolate Tasting
- Backpacker Magazine: The Essential Weekend Backpacking Menu
- Recipe Tips: Water Cracker