Seed Flavors

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The most important contributors to the flavors of grains, legumes, and nuts are fragments of the unsaturated fatty acids in the oils and cell membranes, which have individual aromas described as green, fatty, oily, floral, and mushroomy. The outer bran layer grains contains the bulk of the seed’s oils and enzymes, and so gives whole grains a stronger flavor, as well as contributing some vanilla and toasted notes from its phenolic compounds. Beans are especially rich in green and mushroom notes. Nuts, which are usually cooked with dry heat, contain products of the browning reactions with typical roasted aromas. The flavors of particular seeds are described below.