Spices do more than flavor foods – they can prevent spoiling

By Peter Kent

Understanding the complex interaction between foods and the active bio-compounds in spices offers new ways to make foods safer and more nutritious. Many spices are being found to have health benefits, helping people to deal with diabetes and other disorders.

Chef working with ginger root

Clemson food scientist Aubrey Coffee focuses on “Culinology®” – the combination of culinary arts and food science. She examines the role spices play not only in flavoring foods but also preserving them. One of her projects involves gingerbread and ginger.

“During the Middle Ages, gingerbread was a term used for a spicy bread that usually did not contain ginger, but research has found that ginger has preservative qualities in addition to the flavor it adds,” said Coffee.

Her research is investigating the functionality of ingredients in a gingerbread recipe from 1430: cinnamon, ginger, black pepper and honey. Shelf-life data will be analyzed at the end of the 20-week study.

For information: Aubrey Coffee, 864-656-1201, acoffee@clemson.edu