Kale, avocados and turmeric can be found in any smoothie, health bar or hipster hang out, but has this started a trend of savoury flavours creeping into foods that have been traditionally been reserved for sweeter taste profiles. Carrot cake is a long term favourite, and beetroot brings a rich consistency without being overtly healthy, however they are still sweet desserts. What I am more concerned about is the ice creams, yoghurts, porridges and jams that are seeing an invasion of healthy herbs and vegetables that no longer merely enhance, but alter the flavour bracket.
The Scottish have long been known for salting their porridge while everyone else prefers a sweeter flavour. However with the rise of alternative grains, people are looking at porridge differently, not confined to the breakfast table and instead being a nutritious meal any time of the day. Anna runs the blog The Porridge Lady and has a goal to see savoury porridge eaten more widely:
“I became interested in savoury porridge because I am always looking for ways to get people to eat oats for more than just breakfast. We eat risotto, which is basically rice porridge, so why not oats for dinner.
I think savoury porridge has come from; European influences, especially Scandinavian cuisine, the rise of the high protein/paleo diets and also sits within some peoples 'clean eating' regimes.
“For work I spent time out in the U.S. particularly California and have learnt a lot from the trends there and dishes such as Upma.”
The World Porridge Making Championships are held in Carrbridge and are a great place to watch emerging trends in the industry. Though the speciality category has seen a steady increase in savoury porridges, with one winning the Golden Spurtle a couple of years ago. Anna was quick to jump on the trend, and took her own offering to the championships:
“Then I entered the World Porridge Making Championships in 2015 with a savoury dish that wowed the judges as they hadn't seen anything like it before”
Ice cream, gelato, sorbet and granita are firm summer favourites all over the world. For years people have been experimenting with flavours and encompassing ingredients from a range of sources. Recently however, ice cream has taken a more savoury turn.
Odd Fellows Ice Cream Company is based in New York and is pushing the palates of its customers. While flavours such as Tequila Pineapple and Lime Tarragon have become normal, Guinness, Tobacco with Smoked Chilli & Huckleberry and even Extra Virgin Olive Oil have all featured on the menu. I spoke to Mohan from Odd Fellows on their flavour choices:
“People want something different. At least with our brand, that is what we set out to do (hence the name "oddfellows"). We want to offer something for everyone, so make a great vanilla bean, but also experiment and have fun and do flavours like chorizo caramel swirl, or miso peanut butter. It is also something that Sam has been doing for years going back to wd-50, with mixing savoury with sweet. It’s part of his DNA and our (oddfellows) DNA.”
Odd Fellows’ ethos is all about customer experience, which is why the company continues to experiment with flavours, though their inspiration comes from a variety of sources:
“All over. It could be from watching a movie, listening to music, or travel. Usually where most people get inspiration from.”
Mohan is concerned for quality as more people will look to gain coverage through unusual flavours, though feels savoury ice cream will not be replacing the sweet mainstream alternatives:
“You’re still competing against the majority of people that want the classic stuff. But we're getting to the point where people are just putting stuff together without any integrity and just hoping to get a photo in a magazine. So, hence you'll see a lot more.”
Though there could be health benefits to a savoury ice cream, it is not a market Odd Fellows is trying command, instead they are focussing on the quality of their product:
“Beyond trying to use only top quality ingredients, we are not really too focused on this being a "health brand". Ha! But I guess if we're putting turmeric into a flavour, maybe there's a benefit”
A yoghurt is often the dessert of choice, a quick lunchtime snack and a healthy option for children, but whether you choose a fruity flavour or a chocolate alternative, they are almost always sweet. Waitrose, however, has bucked the trend as more people push towards a sugar free lifestyle. Instead of honey or sugar, these yoghurts contain beetroot, butternut squash and avocado, alongside more standard fruits.
Though Waitrose may be bringing the trend across the pond, Blue Hill Farm has been an instigator behind savoury yoghurts. With six flavours each featuring a single vegetable, the colourful and appealing yogurts are changing perceptions. On their site, the team at Blue Hill Farm make suggestions of the best way to enjoy their veggie yoghurts, and while they can be eaten alone they are also great for adding to recipes. The team alongside Dan Barber have a multitude of suggestions, with sweet potato cheesecake and minted carrot and cabbage slaw featuring one of the yoghurts.