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Help finding foods that have a "cooling sensation" (like mint)

  • p

I love that cooling sensation that comes from certain foods, but I can only think of 2 foods that have this: mint and creme fraiche. I add mint extract to a lot of my desserts. I actually don't want the mint taste, just that cooling sensation in the mouth. Can you guys think of other foods that do this?

I would also like a small science lesson as well. What causes this cooling sensation? Are there food-grade products out there that that doesn't have a taste but does leave that cool feeling in the mouth? A "cooling extract" would be my ideal product that I would love to incorporate in my food.

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  1. I would add, Watermelon. Nice, ripe chunks of chilled watermelon are very cooling.

    I have a friend whole will only eat this on hot days.

    I don't think my point of view is scientific in any way, but maybe it has to do with the degree of water in the watermelon. I can see mint being cooling, but don't get the creme fraiche, which just seems to be a dairy-based counter-to the hot.

    1. It is the menthol that causes that cooling sensation, I linked to this Wikipedia article that explains it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menthol

      1. Menthol stimulates TRPM8, which senses coolness (ie, it's a TRPM8 agonist). A study a few years ago identified some other aromatic substances, and identified 10 new ones that were shown to be agonists (at least for the mouse variant): http://www.nature.com/bjp/journal/v14...

        The good news is that geraniol (which makes up the bulk of rose oil) and linalool (also pleasant) are among them. So you could try rose oil or fresh laurel leaves. Or try to just buy some geraniol and mix up a sugar syrup or something containing an appropriate quantity (after reading the saftey sheets, natch).

        1 Reply
        1. re: tmso

          p.s. linalool if i remember correctly is the main phenolic compound in lemons. hence lemonade being so cooling/refreshing.

          eucalyptus is also cooling in my minds eye. matter of fact, i just infused some vodka with it. most delicious

        2. Cucumbers very similar to watermelon.
          Maybe cucumber mint yogurt dip.

          1 Reply
          1. re: phantomdoc

            I find a slice of cucumber added to a glass of water is very refreshing.

          2. green papaya. of course, when you make it with the thai salad (som tum) seasonings, it becomes hot. deliciously hot.

            1. I don't perceive creme fraiche as "cooling," so much as it tastes tangy to me.

              Similar numbing effects to menthol can be observed in camphor and Szechuan peppercorns, both of which you can get at Asian stores.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JungMann

                I actually do think creme fraiche is refreshing. Might depend on how it is being served/used.

              2. Thai basil has a cooling sensation.

                I also wouldn't describe creme fraiche as cooling.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Perilla and shiso leaves also have that cooling sensation as well.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    yes, basil has that cooling feeling to it... especially when you have basil seed drink.

                    I think grass jelly has the same properties.

                  2. whatever the "cooling" effect, i just know i get a "good feeling hit" with simply pinching off the blossom tips from basil....or picking mint....

                    1. alcohol. I guess the cooling/warming sensations are a little mixed to me. I think of some spice as being cooling (as in, on a hot day, eating spicy hot food can be cooling). Alcohol can also feel either cooling or warming. Mint can also feel like either cooling or burning.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: akq

                        I had posted a reply earlier, but it got lost.

                        Cloves and Fennel seeds may also have the effect you seek, but a strong flavour profile.

                      2. Gimme a nice cold glass of buttermilk after eating Mexican food. Cools the soul. Buttermilk is a cult food among the cognicetti but not the intelligencia.
                        pa Don't tell anyone or the price will go up.
                        Mint creame freche milkshakes w/ rum rock!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Mmmm, buttermilk. I love it in sweet lassis. I find buttermilk ice cream spiked with lemon to be very cooling. Not cloying at all.

                        2. Yup - as they said earlier cucumber. A lot of thai restaurants will serve cucumbers with their curry because it cools down peoples' mouths from the spicy-ness. Don't know if that's what you're looking for though.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: relativeways1

                            Roasted fennel seeds mixed with coconut flakes..after a hot spicy curry

                            1. re: JiyoHappy

                              Xylitol. It's a natural sweetener derived from birch, and can substitute for sugar in most recipes. I find that it definitely gives that "cooling" sensation.

                              1. re: mermaidsd

                                some sites say it is mostly made these days from corn, in china.

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Yes, you definitely have to search for the real xylitol, but it's out there.

                                  1. re: mermaidsd

                                    Yes, the artificial sweeteners that are sugar alcohols give that cooling effect.

                                    Xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol...do a search for more info.

                                    Wikipedia is an unreliable resource, but they do have some info here about this:

                                2. re: mermaidsd

                                  That cooling sensation comes from the breeze you generate running to the bathroom!!! Too much xylitol is not a good thing.

                              2. re: relativeways1

                                Really? My parents always said cucumbers + chilis = more heat!
                                At least that's the Indonesian folklore...

                                1. re: mogo

                                  thats because water, which there is plenty of in cucumbers, actually spreads the capsaicin around in your mouth. hence why cucumbers +chili's = more heat.

                              3. fresh rosemary has a cooling sensation.

                                1. this article has a list of foods that the chinese traditionally consider to be "cooling": http://www.qi-energy.com/tcmdiet.html

                                  1. i think a lot of you missed the point on this one. its not about cooling your mouth after a spicy meal. its about items that give you a sensation of cool without it necessarily being cold. its items that give you that viks vapor rub feeling in your nose. hence my notation further up on the page about eucalyptus

                                    1. Chinese bittermelon (also known euphemistically as "cool melon") has a more subtle cooling sensation than something like mint.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Blueicus

                                        I've never noticed it from bitter melon, but winter melon has a little of that cooling thing going on. Quite refreshing.

                                      2. I find that cloves give a numbing sensation that feels kind of cool to me... a different sensation than mint, though.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: fbf242

                                          I think I had mentioned cloves upthread, and now I think betel nuts also do this: they have more of an astringent sensation on the tongue than cooling.