Related topics

Researchers Trace Tastiness of Tortillas

November 22, 1994 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ It takes more than salt to make tortilla chips taste so good.

Agriculture Department researchers say the reason that tortillas and taco shells please the palate with that hearty, corn flour flavor can be summed up in one nearly unpronounceable word: 2-aminoacetophenone.

The natural compound has been shown to be the key ingredient in yellow corn tortilla flour’s flavor and aroma, according to the department’s Agricultural Research magazine.

Before this research, other studies of tortilla flavor had failed to even identify the compound within the food. In addition to discovering 2- aminoacetophenone, the scientists have pinpointed four other previously overlooked compounds that contribute to the flour’s flavor.

According to the researchers, knowing what makes the chips taste good will help producers enhance the flavor of their products.

The study, done by the Agricultural Research Service in Albany, Calif., involved a range of corn tortilla products purchased at a local supermarket. Using a gas chromatograph and a mass spectrometer, scientists Ronald Buttery and Louisa Ling identified and measured 30 chemicals critical to the taste of the products.

They then isolated the compounds and turned the process over to 20 people, who followed their noses to determine which smelled most like the characteristic aroma of tortilla chips.

Combining the laboratory analyses and the panelists’ assessments, Buttery and Ling ranked the chemicals. The winner was 2-aminoacetophenone.

Improving the flavor of corn tortilla chips could boost an already skyrocketing market. Among snacks, they have already topped sales of microwave popcorn and stand second only to potato chips in popularity.

About $2.5 billion worth of tortilla chips are marketed annually, according to the Snack Food Association, which said the average American spends about $10 a year on tortilla chips.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Milk production rose 3 percent in October from a year earlier, to 10.7 billion pounds, the Agriculture Department says.

September milk production has been revised to 10.5 billion pounds, an increase of 4 percent from 1993 in the 21 major dairying states surveyed.

Production per cow averaged 1,330 pounds in October, up 50 pounds from the previous year. The number of cows on farms in October dropped by 41,000 head from the previous year’s total to 8.03 million head, which was also down 9,000 from September.

Milk production for the July-September quarter in the 21 states, which account for 84.1 percent of U.S. output, totaled 32.3 billion pounds.