Would you get a place on Mackie's taste panel?
Here are some of the type of initial screening tests used for Mackies taste panel which are simple to set up. You can try it out - perhaps enjoy a family contest or challenge family and friends.
First Level - taste and smell recognition.
Prepare seven different solutions in small containers with a lid and straw. The taster should not be able to see the liquid. You can also provide a separate glass of water to refresh the palate between each taste - and a bucket so that they could spit out any which they don't like. The taster must identify the solutions as Bitter, Sour, Salty, Sweet or Tasteless (plain water). Sugar and Salt are ingredients for sweet and salty and you can use coffee for bitter and lemon for sour.
Second Level - blind odour recognition tests.
You can use any real foods - or try food flavourings for this one. Examples like almonds, vanilla and vinegar will be easily found in the cupboards. You may be surprised at how difficult recognition is - again this test should be done blind and do not tell the taster what the selection range contains. Try three or four different food types.
This first phase of screening tests will mean that several people cannot continue - but may join the lay taste panel.
The second stage involves slightly harder Ranking and Triangle tests.
Again you can try these out at home. The taster is asked to rank different solutions into their order of strength or to taste three solutions and identify the odd one out.
to set up Ranking Test
Make up sugar solutions with differing strength - measure out the sugar and dissolve it into 1 litre of water - heating to assist if required. Cool the solutions before tasting. For five solutions, make up five solutions of 1 litre of water (tap water is fine) with 5g, 7g, 10g and 12g of sugar - leaving one which is pure water.
The taster should be asked to rank all five solutions into order of strength.
For a Triangle Test you can give two samples of one solution and one of another similar solution to see if they can pick out the different one.
Tasters with a perfect record or maximum of one mistake may begin the training programme for the Mackie's Taste Panel.