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Machine Learning Making Pesto Tastier

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Now this is something I can get behind, using machine learning to make Pesto tastier! The article is really about growing Basil with higher concentrations of volatile compounds that affect the taste, which in turn is the key ingredient in Pesto.

The researchers behind the AI-optimized basil used machine learning to determine the growing conditions that would maximize the concentration of the volatile compounds responsible for basil’s flavor. The study appears in the journal PLOS One today.

Machine learning shines in cases like this because this is simply an optimization problem. Find the right levels of attributes (i.e. temperature, moisture, heat, etc) to give you best taste and keep it stable in a lab.

The basil was grown in hydroponic units within modified shipping containers in Middleton, Massachusetts. Temperature, light, humidity, and other environmental factors inside the containers could be controlled automatically. The researchers tested the taste of the plants by looking for certain compounds using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. And they fed the resulting data into machine-learning algorithms developed at MIT and a company called Cognizant.

What was the finding for growing the best Basil (key ingredient in Pesto)? It was 24 hour sunlight.

The research showed, counterintuitively, that exposing plants to light 24 hours a day generated the best taste. via Technology Review

I think it’s time to move my Basil plants to a more sunnier location. :)

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