Did you know there are 5 main categories of flavors? These are Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Sour, and Umami. Some scientists also argue that there are more: fat, spicy, and astringent, for instance. For each of these flavors, a different set of taste buds on your tongue sends messages to your brain that say what kind of flavors are present in the food. Food gets really fun when you have multiple kinds of flavors that play with your taste buds!
That’s why making your own spice mix makes for such a grand experiment…Can you fool your tongue??
Some spice mixtures are mainly one category, while others work together to combine flavors. Think of those popcorn tins you get at Christmas time – Usually one is mostly salty, one is both sweet and salty, and another is cheesy umami. When deciding what spices to use, it is best to use your sense of smell. Also, remember that often a spice that is delicious on your favorite food does not taste very good by itself.
We’re going to test out each of these one at a time and decide if it would be a sweet, spicy, or savory kind of flavor. Use your senses to determine what flavors work best together and create a balance of flavors for your buds!
Be careful taking anything out of the oven; use oven mitts! Don’t taste a mixture unless it is completely cool.
What’s your favorite crunchy snack? Did you know you could customize that snack with your favorite flavors? When you know how to cook, you are in the driver’s seat: It’s your call! When you make your own spice mix, you can experiment with it on popcorn, nuts, pumpkin seeds, roasted veggies
…and maybe even chicken or tofu one day! But for now, let’s stick to something crunchy.
The easiest application for this activity is popcorn. Plain microwave popcorn with low butter/oil will be the least time consuming and most accessible. You can also turn the making of the popcorn into an activity if you need time and have access to a whirly pop or some other type of popcorn maker.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
This recipe is pretty straightforward: https://www.inspiredtaste.net/35546/easy-roasted-pumpkin-seeds-recipe/#itr-recipe-35546
WITH ADULT SUPERVISION: Use small pie pumpkins and cut them in half with a study, sharp knife
Each student can work on scooping on the seeds of a half pumpkin. Take all scooped seeds to the sink to rinse.
Toss seeds in a mixing bowl with oil, spread onto baking sheet and roast. While the seeds are roasting, begin the spice activity.
Use baby carrots for time, or cut carrots into sticks.
Toss carrots in oil and salt, spread on baking sheet
Roast at 400º for 30-40 minutes. Start spice activity while carrots are roasting.
They should be slightly charred, so they have a nice crunch.
Clean up tasks to delegate:
Making spice mixes is a versatile way to encourage customization, experimentation, and agency.
Enhance the experience by…
Asking these discussion questions while snacking! 🙂
Allow time to document and share recipes. As thoughts are shared, write them down for all to see or to share in a follow up message.
Also, consider doing this activity as a way to make gifts for others. Spiced nuts and popcorn could be an awesome treat to share during the holidays!