What doesn't kill you makes you tastier.
October 21, 2007 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Treating seeds to increase flavor?

I can't find the recent New York Times article that said that the immune response of plants, and thereby the flavor, could be increased by soaking the seeds in a solution consisting of some substance available at health food stores. The substance contained harmless organic material that the plant read as a threat, and amped up its flavor in response.
posted by StickyCarpet to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I read this too. The NYT article is here, but I read it at McGee's blog.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:07 PM on October 21, 2007

Best answer: The NYT article is not there, it's here.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:08 PM on October 21, 2007

As long as the seed is still living, this seems very possible-- even likely-- to me.

Lots of the chemicals which give seed spices and other seeds their flavors are meant to save seeds from attack by animals and microorganisms. If you can come up with a treatment which makes the seed 'think' its under attack, it might devote resources to making more of those chemicals that it would have saved for germinating and growing if it were not under attack. I think this is one of the secrets of the more intense taste of organic vegetables by the way: they grow under attack, and defend themselves by becoming more intensely flavorful-- to us.

What a great idea.
posted by jamjam at 4:14 PM on October 21, 2007

You can also increase the immune response just by growing the plants organically, according to the same article. The chitosan treatment probably only has a significant effect in a controlled environment, such as a lab greenhouse.

Let a few bugs munch your plants, and they will do the same thing without seed treatment.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:48 PM on October 21, 2007

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