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

phan1 Jul 16, 2008 11:27 PM

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.

  1. DanaB Jul 16, 2008 11:41 PM

    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. autmommy Jul 16, 2008 11:41 PM

      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. t
        tmso Jul 17, 2008 04:36 AM

        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
          SiksElement Jul 25, 2008 10:08 AM

          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. p
          phantomdoc Jul 17, 2008 04:45 AM

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: phantomdoc
            lizzy Jul 17, 2008 07:51 AM

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

          2. alkapal Jul 17, 2008 05:06 AM

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

            1. JungMann Jul 17, 2008 06:00 AM

              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
                Chew on That Jul 25, 2008 01:25 PM

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

              2. Miss Needle Jul 17, 2008 08:08 AM

                Thai basil has a cooling sensation.

                I also wouldn't describe creme fraiche as cooling.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Miss Needle
                  Miss Needle Jul 17, 2008 12:15 PM

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

                  1. re: Miss Needle
                    mogo Aug 4, 2008 11:07 PM

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

                    I think grass jelly has the same properties.

                  2. alkapal Jul 17, 2008 02:12 PM

                    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. a
                      akq Jul 17, 2008 05:13 PM

                      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
                        Rasam Jul 17, 2008 06:52 PM

                        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. Passadumkeg Jul 17, 2008 07:18 PM

                        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
                          Vetter Jul 18, 2008 09:04 PM

                          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. r
                          relativeways1 Jul 17, 2008 07:20 PM

                          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
                            JiyoHappy Jul 18, 2008 10:16 PM

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

                            1. re: JiyoHappy
                              mermaidsd Jul 18, 2008 11:47 PM

                              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
                                alkapal Jul 19, 2008 07:40 AM

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

                                1. re: alkapal
                                  mermaidsd Jul 20, 2008 12:08 AM

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

                                  1. re: mermaidsd
                                    maria lorraine Sep 2, 2008 04:06 PM

                                    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
                                  scuzzo Sep 17, 2008 01:31 PM

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

                              2. re: relativeways1
                                mogo Aug 4, 2008 11:06 PM

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

                                1. re: mogo
                                  SiksElement Oct 9, 2008 08:55 AM

                                  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. h
                                HillJ Jul 20, 2008 07:47 AM

                                fresh rosemary has a cooling sensation.

                                1. alkapal Jul 23, 2008 03:21 AM

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

                                  1. s
                                    SiksElement Jul 25, 2008 10:13 AM

                                    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. b
                                      Blueicus Aug 5, 2008 12:19 PM

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

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Blueicus
                                        Wahooty Oct 9, 2008 02:52 PM

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

                                      2. f
                                        fbf242 Sep 2, 2008 07:36 PM

                                        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
                                          Rasam Sep 13, 2008 01:18 AM

                                          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.

                                        2. o
                                          oryza Sep 17, 2008 11:13 AM

                                          anise & licorice...

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