It’s not for everyone but many people love the taste of salt and vinegar crisps. Possibly the best flavour of crisps in the world is now available free in Australia. The taste of spinifex grass species apparently has a striking resemblance in flavour to salt and vinegar crisps. Research scientist Mathew Barret and PhD student Ben Anderson were surveying a spinifex rich area in Perth, Western Australia when the Flavoured Grass was found.
Finger Licking Good
Teachers warn us in the chemistry class not to eat or lick the samples. But once you’re a grown-up scientist, it looks like this classroom rules no longer applies.
While cataloguing a bunch of native grass species, the researchers discovered that one of them tastes exactly like the flavouring found in salt and vinegar crisps. And yes, they did that by literally licking their fingers.
“We were doing late night experiments, handling specimens of that species,” said Dr Barrett.
“Someone licked their hand at some point and tasted that flavour.”
Spinifex is a uniquely Australian grass. It is particularly resilient and can survive even the worst droughts. There are around 64 kinds of triodia or spinifex species across Australia. The team from the University of Western Australia were reviewing the plant’s taxonomy as a result of Genetic revisions to the taxonomy of the spiky grass plants,
The taste of a species that essentially looks like grass is fairly unexpected. However as Barrett explains, once you get closer to the plant you notice small sparkling droplets on the stems. These tangy droplets either remain as a viscous liquid or can crystallise after the plant has dried.
A Natural Resource
It’s common for grass to secrete sticky sugars, proteins, and salt from the micro-hairs on the leaf’s surface. This is what the researchers believe these sparkly droplets are on the surface of plant’s leaves.
Native aboriginal Australians have used the resin for Centuries to create a form of superglue. They used this to help fasten stone tips to wooden spears. More recently, scientists have hailed spinifex for its potential to revolutionize the plastics industry due to its unique properties.
Spinifex grasses already have commercial potential, ranging from rehabilitating mine sites to manufacturing the world’s strongest, thinnest condoms. The grass fibres strength has a number of uses. Adding a powdered version of the fibres to the latex can lead to the manufacture of “super condoms” that are up to 40 percent stronger.
There is enough spinifex to make the powder required to go into every condom on the planet. Unfortunately, the taste of the Flavoured Grass species could not be transferred to create flavoured condoms.
However, whether Spinifex replaces the good old salt and vinegar crisp is anyone’s guess.
For a rundown of the common grass species in the UK read our post Grass Species Used In British Lawns