by Bernard Lahousse
on November 19, 2014

The secret behind beetroot’s earthy flavors

Beetroot has enjoyed a deserved comeback in recent years. This sweet root vegetable has a vibrant purple color and a typical sweet, rich and earthy flavor. Wonder where this earthy flavor comes from?

The science behind beetroot's earthy flavors

The molecule Geosmin

Seen from a molecular level, the most prominent aroma molecule responsible for the earthy flavor is 'geosmin'. Its name is derived from the Greek γεω- "earth" and ὀσμή "smell", because this aroma compound has a real distinct 'earthy' flavor.

The human nose is extremely sensitive to geosmin and is able to detect it at concentrations as low as 5 parts per trillion.

'One teaspoon of geosmin, dissolved into an amount of water equal to 200 Olympic swimming pools, would be sufficient for the human sense of smell to detect it.'

Geosmin contributes to the specific strong earthy scent that occurs in the air during a summer rain fall. It is also noticeable in the characteristic smell of soil, or the muddy smell of freshwater ground fish, such as carp or catfish.

High concentrations of this very same geosmin with its distinct early flavor we find back in our beloved beetroot.

Search for beetroot pairings

With the Foodpairing Inspiration Tool you can search for different pairings with beetroot. We see that other root vegetables share their earthy aromas with the beetroot. Also ingredients like dark chocolate, nuts, coffee or roasted onions have earthy flavors and pair well with beetroot.

This could be explained by the presence of 'pyrazines', which are aromatic structures formed during the process of roasting ingredients. These pyrazines also contain an earthy smell.

Foodpairing Inspiration Tool

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Discover interesting Beetroot recipes made by Foodpairing®

Beetroot lends itself to a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes. The Foodpairing® Kitchen created two appetizers and a dessert using Les vergers Boiron Beetroot puree, an ideal puree to make different beetroot preparations.

Earthy flavored ingredients combine well with one another, however it is good to keep your dish balanced, too much earthiness can be overpowering.

Les vergers Boiron Beetroot - Mussel - Walnut - Vin Jaune - Vanilla

beetroot mussel walnut vin jaune vanilla

Les vergers Boiron Beetroot - Scallop Saint Jacques - Caviar

beetroot scallop saint jaques caviar

Les vergers Boiron Beetroot - Yoghurt - Raspberry

beetroot yoghurt raspberry

beetroot cocktail with yoghurt - coffee - sambuca

sambuca beetroot foodpairing cocktail drinkpairing

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