A Taste of Flavor and Ingredient Trends

What’s hot in flavors and ingredients?  What will we be tasting more on restaurant menus and in packaged goods?

Here’s what a couple of trend trackers are predicting.

First, Mintel identified six flavor trends for 2010…yhst-56467450178178_2039_1407228

Cardamom – Known to be intensely aromatic with a strong, unique taste, cardamom will find a home in more than just ethnic fare. Think of cardamom as the new cinnamon. Cosmic Chocolate recently launched a chocolate bar flavored with cardamom and oranges.

Sweet Potato – Candied, fried, baked or boiled…sweet potatoes are one of the most diversely prepared vegetables. Aside from being a delicious snack or side dish, Mintel predicts they’ll become known as the new functional food since sweet potatoes are rich in dietary  fiber, beta carotene and vitamins C and B6.

AAAAC-bcGnoAAAAAAMpLoQHibiscus – Expect to see the floral flavor become a common ingredient in the beverage market, especially teas.   Donald Trump has gotten into the tea business (hey, at least not more supplements!).  One of the varieties of Trump Tea contains organic hibiscus.  Premium Essence Water from Hint now offers Hibiscus flavored water.  

Cupuaçu – The taste of the Amazon Rainforest, cupuaçu is in the running to be next big superfruit.  The Brazilian fruit is starting to appear in juices and energy drinks, and Musselmans launched a lime and cupuaçu flavored apple sauce showcasing this unique flavor.

Rose water – Rose water is no longer just a fragrance. You can look forward to finding it as a common flavor in beverages and ethnic foods, especially desserts (like I just experienced in Lebanon, along with orange blossom water).

Latin – Latin spices will be heating up our palates next year, and you won’t have to dine out to get these exciting flavors.  Mintel predicts that Peruvian and Argentinean will be especially hot Latin flavors. Whole Foods Market now offers a Mayan Ceviche. Icelandic Salsa Shrimp Cocktail features a spice packet loaded with the popular Latin flavor of cilantro.

I recently attended an excellent webinar on wellness trends that was conducted by the Hartman Group.  I especially enjoyed this slide that looked at healthful ingredients — what’s trendy here and now and what will be hot around the bend.

trendy ingredients

Was so happy to see the spice sumac on the emerging list.  I do agree that sumac may be the next big spice to breakthrough.  I sure love the tart taste of sumac and hope it will soon be more widely available.   Here’s a look at fresh sumac that grows wild in all parts of Lebanon.



Monica Bhide wrote a great piece on sumac in the Washington Post:

I turned to the one and only person I know who could write an encyclopedia entry on sumac and still have something more to share: Paula Wolfert, guru of Mediterranean cooking and author of numerous acclaimed books on the subject.

“I love the taste of sumac,” she tells me during our phone interview. “It is bitter, tangy, sweet, salt. In all very intriguing.”

Sumac, a berry, has been used in the Middle East as a souring agent for centuries. I asked Paula if lemon juice or vinegar were substitutes, and the answer was an emphatic no. “Sumac adds another dimension that lemon juice does not,” she said. It also adds a lovely red ting to a dish.

Sumac is sold as dried berries and ground. Please be aware that you need to buy this from a store and must not pick the sumac growing on the roadside in places as some of those varieties are poisonous. Paula advises storing the berries in the freezer and the ground sumac in the fridge.

This spice is a fantastic tabletop condiment, to be sprinkled on such dishes as salads, baked chicken, hummus, boiled eggs and more to provide that extra zing. Sumac goes well with chicken and fish. Even though lemon or vinegar can’t be substituted for it effectively, the reverse substitution — sumac instead of lemon or vinegar — can work wonders in kebabs, broiled chicken, fish, stews, salad dressing and more. Sumac can be used during the cooking process and then also sprinkled on top of the final dish.

And of course, sumac is the signature spice in fattoush, which I recently wrote about during my trip to Lebanon.

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