About Me

My photo
Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of four. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beaver Spice

"Anyone care for a beaver-flavored Pepparkakor?"

Readers of this blog are well aware that when it comes to mammalian scent the codger has a discerning nose.

A recurrent theme in my summer workshop is that camera trappers who disdain scent as an attractant miss opportunities to pixelate their quarry.

So I was terribly gruntled this afternoon when Chas Clifton sent me a link to an article titled Beaver Butt Secretion Good for Baking. Thanks again, Chas.

And don't skip the remarks of the wussified commentators. I am sure none has seen a beaver's butt, let alone sniffed one.

I vouch for the captivating power of beaver castor.

That greasy paste is a rich mixture of various plant phenols, including molecular relatives of vanilla, and it's as close to a universal mammalian attractant as it gets.

We have a scent sniffing exercise after my evening lecture on olfactory attractants.

The class is understandably hesitant -- "Hey man, this is weird" -- so I tell them it's "very California", like wine tasting and aroma therapy.

Then I open a jar of Mud Road, take a deep whiff, and roll my eyes. 

Soon the jars are moving around the table, and when the participants aren't gagging their facial expressions are precious.

But with Castoreum it's different.

It's hard to get certain participants to surrender that spicy smelling jar to their classmates.

They just keep sniffing with this dreamy look, and of course everyone wants to sample it.     

So I'm not surprised that the Swedes have approved castoreum as a cooking ingredient.

I hope The Local follows up on the article, because I want to know how many Swedish grannies will be inspired to add castoreum to their pepparkakor.

I know I'll never get the redhead to do it.


john said...

i have always felt that my Swedish ancestors were barbarians and I pointed to their disgusting traditional foods to reinforce that stereotype. Now I have to admit to having some curiosity about castoreum. Would I actually try something using that ingredient? Doubtful.

Camera Trap Codger said...

If they ever produce the stuff, I am sure they'll "clean it up" and sterilize it. I've read that some people these days pay big money for "kopi luwak", coffee beans that have passed through the gut of a palm civet. Beaverized snickerdoodles might have a chance.

Bornean Rose said...

It has been a while i did not visit your blog. Still inspired with some of humours in between. I plan to work on cam trap again for the nest of Tabon Megapode.

Cheers from Borneo!

Camera Trap Codger said...

Glad to see you are blogging again, Rose, and good luck with the megapodes.