A sensory evaluation of swidden rye (Secale cereale) – how the taste of history and geographical location can play part in a sustainable food production
Abstract: Due to their resilience, durability, and broad genetic variations, increasing the production and consumption of landrace cereals has been highlighted as a solution to handle increasing environmental variability resulting from climate change. However, the consumption of landrace cereals remains low due to limited production and purchase availability for consumers. To increase knowledge and possibly the production and consumption of landrace cereals, the overall aim of the study was to investigate the influence of terroir and the addition of ingredients on consumers' perception and acceptance of sensory qualities in cookies prepared from the landrace cereal swidden rye. Rye (Secale cereale) has been pointed out as a wonder crop and is of historical importance in the Nordic region. The study analyses the application of swidden rye (Swedish: Svedjeråg), a landrace variety of rye, in cookies by investigating how consumers perceive and describe its sensory characteristics. Additionally, the study explores how terroir relates to sensory perceptions. Five samples of swidden rye and a conventional rye sample have been included in the study. The study used a mixed methods approach with a Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA®), a hedonic liking test, a focus group, and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) data. Different sensory profiles could be detected for the cookies produced with swidden rye, and a descriptive vocabulary and sensory profiles have been developed to describe the swidden rye cookies. Common descriptors were a browned butter aroma, a colour that ranged between golden and grey, roasted nutty and rye flavours, with a coarser or oily texture. All cookies were considered liked and acceptable by consumers, and cookies produced with swidden rye and the addition of butter and sugar could meet future consumers' expectations. There were relationships between terroir and sensory perceptions of swidden rye cookies. Relationships were found for increases and decreases in intensities of different sensory attributes. The geographical location on the latitude was only related to a decrease in the liking for texture; otherwise, differences in the consumer's liking were not related to the farm's geographical location. Showing that soil texture and land types are more related to differences in consumer liking and that the geographical location was less so. However, all parameters representing terroir were related to perceived sensory attribute intensities. The knowledge gained can be applied in the efforts to increase the production and consumption of landrace cereals. Communicating both the history, the historical importance, and the different sensory characteristics of swidden rye through terroir could be one way to increase consumers' interests and consumption.
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