activity

YOU get to be the scientist in this edible experiment! Your research question: Does changing the texture of a food also change its flavor? Recruit a few volunteers (and make some tasty salsa) to help you find out.

hey curious cook—

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safety
  • Uses a knife
difficulty
  • Beginner
time
  • 30 minutes
yield
  • Makes about 1 cup salsa

Prepare Ingredients

1 (14.5-ounce) can
diced tomatoes, opened
2 slices
jarred pickled jalapeño
2 teaspoons
lime juice, squeezed from ½ lime
1
garlic clove, peeled
¼ teaspoon
salt
¼ cup
fresh cilantro leaves
Tortilla chips (optional)

Gather Equipment

Fine-mesh strainer
3
bowls (1 medium, 2 small)
Rubber spatula
Food processor
Masking tape or sticky notes
Marker
1
blindfold per taster
2
spoons per taster
1
glass of water per taster

Part 1: Make your Salsa Samples

1
 
1 (14.5-ounce) can
diced tomatoes, opened

Set fine-mesh strainer over medium bowl. Pour tomatoes into fine‑mesh strainer. Use rubber spatula to stir and press on tomatoes to remove liquid. Let tomatoes drain in strainer for 5 minutes. Discard liquid.

 
2
 
2 slices
jarred pickled jalapeño
2 teaspoons
lime juice, squeezed from ½ lime
1
garlic clove, peeled
¼ teaspoon
salt

Place jalapeño, lime juice, garlic, and salt in food processor. Lock lid into place. Hold down pulse button for 1 second, then release. Repeat until ingredients are roughly chopped, about five 1-second pulses. Remove lid and use rubber spatula to scrape down sides of bowl.

 
3
 
¼ cup
fresh cilantro leaves

Add drained tomatoes to mixture in food processor. Lock lid into place. Hold down pulse button for 1 second, then release. Repeat until evenly chopped, about three 1-second pulses. Remove lid and carefully remove processor blade (ask an adult for help). Add cilantro to processor and use rubber spatula stir to combine.

 
4
 

Transfer half of salsa to 1 small bowl. Use masking tape or sticky note and marker to label bowl “Sample A.” Set aside.

 
5
 

Use rubber spatula to scrape down sides of processor bowl. Replace processor blade (ask an adult for help). Lock lid back into place. Turn on processor and process for about 30 seconds. Stop processor, remove lid, and use rubber spatula to scrape down sides of bowl. Lock lid back into place, turn on processor, and process for another 30 seconds, or until salsa is very smooth.

 
6
 

Remove lid and carefully remove processor blade (ask an adult for help). Transfer salsa to second small bowl. Use masking tape or sticky note and marker to label bowl “Sample B.” Set aside, making sure both bowls are out of tasters’ sight.

 

Part 2: Conduct your Experiment

1
 

Recruit some tasters. Explain that they are going to taste 2 different salsas. Their job is to think about the flavor and texture of each salsa. Do they taste the same? Different? Can tasters identify any of the ingredients?

 
2
 

Tell tasters to put on their blindfolds. Give each taster a spoonful of Sample A to eat. Tasters should chew slowly, thinking about the sample’s flavor and texture, but should keep their thoughts to themselves for now.

 
3
 

Give each taster a glass of water and have them take a sip. Then, give each taster a spoonful of Sample B to eat. Tasters should think about this sample’s flavor and texture, still keeping their thoughts to themselves. If tasters would like, give them more spoonfuls of each salsa to taste.

 
4
 

Put the 2 salsa samples out of tasters’ sight. Have tasters remove their blindfolds. Ask tasters:

  • How would you describe the texture of Sample A?
  • What ingredients do you think were in Sample A?
  • How would you describe the texture of Sample B?
  • What ingredients do you think were in Sample B?
 
5
 
Tortilla chips (optional)

Time for the big reveal! Show tasters the 2 bowls of salsa. Explain that both samples contained the exact same ingredients. The only difference? Their texture: Sample A was chunky and Sample B was smooth. Did tasters think Sample A and Sample B had the same flavor? Could they identify any ingredients in the salsas? Read on to learn more about how a food’s texture affects its flavor. (Feel free to snack on the rest of your salsa with some tortilla chips, too.)

 
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