What are palate cleansers?
While at culinary academy, you will use your skills to create multiple-course meals. Sometimes, in between those meals it is necessary to use a palate cleanser to help your diners move from course to course without having flavors left over from what they've eaten earlier interfere with the next dish. Here are some great options to use as palate cleansers:
A common food that is eaten in small quantities between meals or beverages in France is sorbet. This lightly-flavored treat is known in the U.S. as a sweet dessert, but when made without sugar can help to refresh your mouth and remove leftover flavors. Many people will make their own version of sorbet with citrus fruits such as lemon or grapefruit to neutralize any tastes that still linger.
Although not as elegant and fancy as sorbet, crackers are also a great choice for removing the flavor of food from your mouth. Some people debate that unsalted varieties are the best because salt has too much of a taste. Others enjoy several regularly-salted crackers between courses. If a part of your meal includes something that is already salty, you may want to choose to serve unsalted crackers so the taste isn't overwhelming.
Soda water or sparkling water is a common palate cleanser that people drink or swish in their mouths as if using mouthwash. The bubbles are said to stimulate the tongue and make it more receptive to new flavors. Some restaurants add a wedge of lemon for extra palate-cleansing power.
When serving spicy foods, drinking milk afterwards can greatly reduce the leftover sting and make your diners better able to taste the foods that come afterwards. It's also great to have on hand if the people you are cooking for tend to overdo it on the hot sauce, regardless of what you've made.
Japanese food often comes with a bit of pickled ginger on the side. These thin strips of ginger have been pickled in vinegar, which is also an excellent palate cleanser. While we wouldn't recommend simply downing some vinegar, providing your diners with a few slices of pickled ginger between courses can neutralize the flavor in their mouths and help them to better taste the following course. It's also great between bites of different sushi rolls, particularly if you enjoy tasting the rice and seaweed, not just the raw fish.