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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Melon Tasting

I signed up to be on a cantaloupe melon tasting panel in the pomology department. At first I just thought it'd be something fun to do, to break up a day of work since the pomology department is next door to my building. But then I found out that we get snacks at the end of each session AND we get paid $5 for each session. Nice!

We started with a handful of "training" sessions with the other panelists so we could come up with about 5 testable attributes for aroma, texture, appearance, and taste. Everyone had to agree on the general magnitude of each attribute for several trail melon samples so the researcher could be sure that the data we're giving her is "real."

Now we've moved on to doing actual taste testing--we each sit in isolated booths and test about 5 samples each time. Between samples we have to "rinse" our mouths with a cracker and water. The sessions are dependent on the melons' ripening out in the field so each week we're emailed with an approximate schedule and then we have a 3 hour window during which we can come in to taste them all. Eddie's had to come with me a few times during my days at home. He just plays on the floor and eats left over melon samples or other snacks that the researcher gives to him. It's pretty awesome.

This study is part of a larger Specialty Crops Research Initiative program--you can check out the news story that aired this morning here and read more about it here. I'm such a nerd...but I just love knowing that I am contributing to scientific endeavors like this (since the results will eventually benefit everyone).

Hopefully I'll be able to sign up for other panels, too. I know there are sometimes wine tasting studies and having a wine drinking break in the middle of the day doesn't sound bad at all. =)

2 comments:

mu rye uh said...

awsome

steph.kelley said...

that is rockin. go melon-tasters Julie and Eddie! mmmm i can tell the difference in my farm-raised cantaloupe already!