EAU CLAIRE, WI — During National Horseradish Month (July), Silver Spring Foods, the largest grower and processor of horseradish in the world, introduced the Zing Masters™ line of goods, processes, and services, including Silver Spring’s sommeliers of horseradish. The Zing Masters™ experts are behind the company’s innovation development that has brought so many different products to market in the last three years.
The Zing Masters™ experts are the company’s arbiters of taste and Zing. Coined by Silver Spring Foods, Zing suggests the heat that horseradish brings to food, from the slightest notion to the full-on power of an eye-opening burst of taste sensation.
Each of the over 25 Silver Spring Zing Masters™ experts are qualified by training, experience, enthusiasm, and the ability to discriminate between samples and taste sweet, salty, bitter, and sour reference standards. Interestingly, at least 33 percent of people are not able to pass the lowest level taste discrimination tests. The specially-trained Zing Masters™ experts perform this crucial role for Silver Spring Foods in addition to their traditional positions at the company.
“The Zing Masters have been essential to our ability to evolve and diversify our product line of top-quality horseradish products that uphold exceptional quality from the first production to the end of shelf life,” said Eric Rygg, President of Silver Spring Foods.
While the science behind the Zing is crucial, nothing replaces trained human insights into the taste experience and how people experience the Zing of horseradish. The Zing Masters™ proprietary process has produced a large reference data set that has become essential to the company’s ability to identify the best formulations and processing techniques that create the best great-tasting recipes from a human sensory perspective.
“How people experience the Zing of horseradish is very different from how they experience the heat of a pepper,” explained Sarah Kolk, a Zing Masters™ expert, Research Scientist, and Certified Sensory Scientist at Silver Spring Foods.
While humans feel the heat of a hot pepper in their mouths over time, they experience the taste-enhancing power of horseradish right at the beginning of the bite, and then it dissipates as people chew their food. The naturally-occurring Allyl isothiocyanate provides the quickly-experienced pungent taste in all mustards, radishes, horseradish, and wasabi. A pepper’s heat is produced by the Capsaicin, which is released more slowly in the mouth by chewing; Capsaicin is a less volatile and longer lingering flavor molecule.
Silver Spring Zing Masters™ programs produce experts who are a multidisciplinary group with various roles in the company, including production workers, warehouse leads, quality control technicians, senior managers, food scientists, and more. Their tasting responsibilities include shelf-life studies, descriptive analysis, time-intensity flavor profiling, and discrimination testing, among other tests and research.
“Horseradish pungency renders it fatiguing to taste compared to things like wine or spirits that people can spit out during the tasting process,” added Kolk. “Our Zing Masters sommeliers meet to taste our existing and new formulations several times a month, both right out of the bottle and within recipes in which customers use our products, such as meats, dips, casseroles, burgers, sandwiches, salads, dressings, and marinades. There’s a lot of ‘free lunch’ involved with this job!”
The Zing Factor™ Index
The Food Innovation team of food scientists measure the Zing and other quality indicators of horseradish using analytical laboratory techniques. The team then works with the Zing Masters™ experts to assign a Zing Factor™ to each product, from 1 (low) to 5 (high).
“Today, we have a full range of products across the Zing Factor scale that appeal to different people for different foods or occasions,” said Rygg. “We’re starting to roll out the Zing Factor on our bottles so consumers can see the different factor ratings on the shelf and easily choose the level of Zing they want in their various dishes.”
The Zing Factor™ Index will appear first on Silver Spring Foods Prepared Horseradish and start to roll out across the product line in the next year.
“The Zing Masters sommeliers are part of our special sauce at Silver Spring Foods, and we thought it was time to bring them out from behind the curtain and share their special abilities with our customers and consumers so that they can learn more about how horseradish can make all their food taste better,” added Rygg. “We envision a variety of upcoming Zing Masters educational and entertainment events to showcase the unique abilities of these horseradish sommeliers and allow customers and consumers enhanced experiences for condiment pairing and uses.”
About Silver Spring Foods
Silver Spring Foods is a subsidiary of Huntsinger Farms, Inc., the world’s largest grower and processor of horseradish. The company, which has been family-owned and operated since 1929, processes, packages, and markets horseradish along with a variety of specialty mustards and other quality food products to retail, food service, private label, and industrial customers. In 2021 Huntsinger Farms will host Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, the largest agricultural show in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the nation. The three-day outdoor event showcases the latest improvements in production agriculture, including many practical applications of recent research findings and technological developments. For more information, visit https://www.silverspringfoods.com.