Most of us are guilty of being a little heavy handed with the amount of salt we add to our meals. Even though we know it’s not good for our health, we can’t help but crave that salty taste. Japanese researcher Hiromi Nakamura spent six years looking for a way to create taste using electrical currents. The outcome is an electric fork that generates a salty taste by stimulating the tongue with electricity.
Nakamura developed the fork based on her research into electric flavouring at the University of Tokyo. Electric flavouring refers to the ability of an electric current to produce a salty or sour flavour on the tongue.
To produce an electric current, Nakamura incorporated a rechargeable battery and an electric circuit into the handle of the fork. A button on the handle controls the level of electric current and subsequently, the saltiness of the food as the fork is inserted into the mouth.
The fork appeals to people who require low-salt or no-salt content in their diets for various health reasons.
“In order to get that taste, it is necessary to artificially create the various tastes salt provides. By using this, one can experience the taste of salt, all without salt itself,” says Nakamura.
The fork also produces sour and metallic tastes depending on the food it is used with. With the help of professional chefs, researchers discovered that certain spices such as pepper and garlic make the food taste saltier.
The first prototype of the fork was developed for "No Salt Restaurant," an experimental project that offers full course salt-free meals. Researchers plan to introduce it to the market.