SCV Outdoor Report: Giving Thanks For The Small Stuff (Part 3): The Bacteria That Enhance The Flavor 
By Wendy Langhans
In honor of Thanksgiving, we’ll be taking a closer look at
the small things in nature we often take for granted.
What kind of wine goes best with a Thanksgiving Turkey? Oh my...that’s a question that can spark
almost as much debate as a political campaign.
White or red? Pinot Noir or White Zinfandel? (Or if you’re like us, whatever is on sale at
Or how about a debate about stuffing? Which onion do you use? Red or yellow or sweet onions? Years ago, that list might also have included
our own local red-skinned
onion , Allium haematochiton, which blooms from April through June. (Now, of course, we take only photos, to save
these plants for the wild animals that also eat them.)
Red-skinned onion (courtesy of S. Ioerger)
In the midst of all this debate, let me present a juicy
tidbit of new information. Some of the
subtle flavors we taste in certain foods like grapes, onions and green peppers
are the result of the bacteria that live in our mouths.
Recently, scientists in Switzerland
have discovered that bacteria
in the human mouth  “play a role in creating the distinctive flavors of
certain foods. They found that these bacteria actually produce food odors from
odorless components of food, allowing people to fully savor fruits and vegetables.”
These foods contain a number of sulfur compounds. Some of these chemical compounds are
odorless, while others, known as thiols, are quite volatile or “smelly”. It takes about 20-30 seconds for certain
bacteria in our mouth to convert the odorless compounds into volatile thiol
compounds that are detectible for up to 3 minutes. That’s one reason why wines have an
aftertaste or “finish”.
Next week, we’ll be gathering with family and friends to
share a meal and give thanks. As you
offer up a toast, or dig into that savory dish of stuffing, I hope you take
time to give thanks for the small stuff that helps make our celebration
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
A Tip on Recycling. One
way to demonstrate (and not just give) thanks is to take care of our
earth. If you are unsure what can and
cannot be recycled, check out the Waste Management (Blue Barrel) Recycling  website.
Saturday, November 22nd, and every Wednesday, 8:00 AM. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon .
Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and
a heart-thumping workout. For more information contact Steve Ioerger  at 661-291-1565.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report",
brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the
Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.