Important reading before Christmas.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without an abundance of cheese-topped crackers. However, if you’re planning on haphazardly loading your biscuits with lumps of cheddar, think again: as it turns out, there’s a formula for making the perfect cheese cracker – and it’s been approved by an Oxford University scientist.
Jacob’s, aka one of the world’s most famous cracker producers, decided to hire Professor Charles Michel to investigate the best way to make a cracker. And, while many would have considered them to be the least labour-intensive of the Christmas snacks, it turns out we should all be putting a lot more effort into our cheese and cracker combos.
Ideally, they need to incorporate all five tastes; salt, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami.
“Adding Umami-rich elements to cheese will increase the deliciousness and mouthfulness,” said Michel. “In small quantities, strong-flavoured, Umami packed foods like anchovies, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and Marmite, will perfectly complement your cheese and cracker pairing.”
He added: “An element of sweet (such as honey or dried fruit) will balance the taste equation to maximise flavour enjoyment.”
Michel went on to confirm that (duh) it’s a case of “the crunchier the better” – so you need to make sure you’re using crackers fresh out the packet
Less obvious, however, was the ideal ratio of cracker to cheese; your fromage should cover exactly 72% of the biscuit’s surface. No more, no less.
The sight of a clear 1-cm rim of cracker around the cheese subconsciously convinces the mind the morsel is going to taste better, he explained.
As if things weren’t already complex enough, Michel went on to argue that we should be aiming for as great an array of colours on our cracker as possible.
“It’s about stimulating all the senses at once to complement the flavour of the food,” he said, reminding us that “we eat with our eyes first”.
Hmm. There’s no denying that it sounds good, but it also sounds pretty labour intensive.
And there we were thinking that cheese and crackers were the easy option…
Image: Rose Elena