Given the recent research on the taste of metals in cutlery (flatware) and their potential food pairings, is there any food unsuitable for stainless steel, or is this the universal make do metal?

Has anyone tried metal/food pairings for specific dishes?

We do use the heirloom silverware for delicate desserts, but that's about it!

Some references:

Institute of Making - Sensoaesthetic Properties of Materials

Fine Dining Lovers - Cutlery food science


I only have experience with metal and non-metal cutlery/food combination. I'm aware this isn't really what you've been asking, but still find it worthwhile to share.

From my personal experience there is a tasting difference between metal (I only know stainless steel) and non-metal (in my example nacre) with eggs. The difference comes from the "mouth-feel" of the spoon. I tried this with the same egg and the spoons both rested at the same place (to compensate temperature differences).

I experienced the metal spoon as cold (even though it was at room temperature), kind of "hiding the eggs flavor", while the nacre spoon was not only warmer, it felt kind of as if it wasn't there or at least much less prominent, offering a fuller flavor of the egg.


Found a few other references to these foods tested by the Institute of Making

After three years of research, they unleashed the spoons on this complex Indian dinner, served with a flight of seven beers. The sight of 15 adults sucking their spoons like babies was an unusual start to a dinner party, but they had surprisingly different flavours. Copper and zinc were bold and assertive, with bitter, metallic tastes; the copper spoons even smelt metallic as they gently oxidised in the air. The silver spoon, despite its beauty, tasted dull in comparison, while the stainless steel had a faintly metallic flavour that is normally overlooked. As Miodownik pointed out, we were not just tasting the spoons but actually eating them, because with each lick we were consuming “perhaps a hundred billion atoms”. When the spoons were tasted with food, there were some surprising revelations. Baked black cod with zinc was as unpleasant as a fingernail scraped down a blackboard, and grapefruit with copper was lip-puckeringly nasty. But both metals struck a lovely, wild chord with a mango relish, their loud, metallic tastes somehow harmonised by its sweet-sour flavour. (“With sour foods, like mango and tamarind, you really are tasting the metal,” says Laughlin, “because the acid strips off a little of the surface.”) Tin turned out to be a popular match for pistachio curry. And Laughlin sang the praises of gold as a spoon for sweet things: “Gold has a smooth, almost creamy quality, and a quality of absence – because it doesn’t taste metallic.”

As well as the full publication called The use of standard electrode potentials to predict the taste of solid metals which appeared in Food Quality and Preference vol.22 I have found this Journal to be an amazing tool, there are many topics on the lesser thought of aspects of cooking, presentation, and consumption of the perfect dishes.

  • Duplicate. That's just a commercial publication from the author (Zoe Laughlin) of the first link in the references – TFD Jan 5 '13 at 21:49
  • @TFD it's not quite a duplicate, its the original source article FOR your reference. It includes more information. Did you check the link? – JesseW Jan 5 '13 at 21:58
  • Yes, I have it already, it's the same author. Looking for other science or practical experience – TFD Jan 5 '13 at 23:05
  • @TFD Gotcha, well let me know if you come across anything. I have experimented a little with this, but not enough for any relevant perspective. I have found though that conductivity is a pretty good indicator as to how much flavoring will change. – JesseW Jan 5 '13 at 23:11

Based on everything I've ever read, stainless steel should be non-reactive with anything you'd encounter in a kitchen. There are specific warnings about copper and aluminum, and semi-nutty warnings about plastics and cast iron in some situations, but I've never read anything remotely reputable denigrating stainless steel.

  • I suggest you re-read the question, which has nothing to do with reactivity or food safety. – Aaronut Jun 10 '12 at 2:06
  • @Alesh_Houdek According to the tests referenced, people do detect a taste difference from metals including stainless steel (it's steel, not magic) with certain food groups – TFD Jun 10 '12 at 6:41

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