When it comes to the ability to taste foods us humans are divided into three camps – 50 percent of the population simply taste things normally, 25 percent have a lowered sense of taste and find it hard to detect tastes like sweet, sour or bitter – and the other 25 percent are what science calls super tasters. Super tasters have higher than average numbers of taste buds on their tongue and as such, they taste everything more intensely – fat is creamier, sugar in sweeter and bitter tastes can be very intense. Now this has it’s good side -super tasters tend to be thinner than non-tasters as they don’t need a lot of sweet or fatty things to satisfy them – but it’s also true that veggie dodging is more common in super tasters as they don’t like the bitter tastes that are found in many vegetables – especially super good for you ones like spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and, our old friend, kale.
So, how do you know if you’re one of them – all it takes is some blue food colouring.
Here’s what to do…
- Drop a bit of blue food colouring on the front part of your tongue
- Rinse your mouth with water, spit it out then swallow a few times
- Your tongue itself should now be blue, but on top of it you’ll see some pink, or lighter blue dots – each one of these contains 3-5 tastebuds. . If you’re a supertaster, you’ll see a lot of pink patches particularly concentrated at the front of your tongue. If you’re a non taster, the tongue will look more polka dot – while a medium taster will be somewhere in between.
If you really want to get specific, then punch a hole with a hole punch onto a small piece of greaseproof paper then place this over the tip of your tongue. Now use a magnifying glass to count exactly how many dots you see – or take a pic on your phone and then zoom in to count. A true super taster has about 30 dots in that area, a normal taster 15-30, a poor taster will have less than 15.
Once you’ve worked out if you’re a super taster the next question is, what do you do about it? Well let’s just say that altering the amount of taste buds you have is not the answer, instead, you need to decrease the intensity of bitterness in the veggies you eat to counteract your added sensitivity to them. There’s a few different ways to do this…
- Roast your veggies – this can make them taste a bit sweeter and works well with things like parsnips and Brussels sprouts. Don’t burn them though, that just makes them more bitter.
- Blend them with something creamy – like ricotta cheese – which cuts through the bitterness.
- Add some lemon – sourness also counteracts bitterness.
- So does salt, but don’t go mad – no-one needs to develop high blood pressure just to eat broccoli.
- Under cook them a bit – the more you cook bitter vegetables the more bitter they become so experiment with how long you cook them for and find the perfect point for you.