Yummly is releasing its semantic food search technology into the wild, announcing on Wednesday that it is selling developers access to its database of more than 1 million web-sourced recipes as well as the technology it uses to parse them.
The launch is timely, considering Punchfork is shutting down its API at the end of the month after it was bought by Pinterest. Several sites and apps tap Punchfork’s recipe content and search capabilities – for instance, Punchfork powered Evernote Food’s Explore Recipes feature – so it will soon be looking for an alternative.
Yummly’s API, though, isn’t just a Punchfork clone, said Brian Witlin, the search portal’s new head of platform and mobile. Punchfork aggregated content from member food blogs and organized its recipes on social principles. Yummly on the other hand delves deep into the ingredients, cooking methods and the science behind each of the recipes it categorizes. It teases nutritional data out of its recipes, and its algorithms can even infer if a particular dish will be spicy, bitter or sweet. Users, for instance, can use Yummly to search specifically for low-fat or gluten-free dish options or find meals guaranteed to blow the socks off even the most jaded spice fiend.
“There are so many ways we can slice and dice the data we have,” Witlin said. “We plan to offer even more options in the next couple of months.” Yummly, however, doesn’t yet have tools to replace the social context Punchfork provides its customers, but Witlin said it’s in the works.
Initially customers most likely will use the Yummly API to provide more generic recipe content and search in their sites and apps. One of Yummly’s early API testers, search engine DuckDuckGo, uses the API to answer specific recipe queries, basically extending Yummly’s search portal onto its own site.
But developers will eventually be able to tap into Yummly’s technology to make their recipe and cooking services smarter. For instance recipe aggregation apps such as Evernote, Paprika and BigOven store recipes scrapped from all over the web, most of them drawn from the same sites Yummly categorizes. Those companies could use Yummly’s API to organize their customers personal recipe boxes into much more useful categories.
Instead of sorting your recipe library by generic soup, salad, meat and poultry labels, you could sort them by calorie level, salt use, level of spiciness or any of hundreds of different categories that aren’t spelled out in the recipes themselves.
Of course, Yummly can only sort the recipes it catalogs so any recipe you enter manually or from a site Yummly doesn’t aggregate won’t benefit from the API. But Witlin said Yummly eventually plans to amp up its recipe parsing technology so it will immediately scan any new recipe it encounters, adding it to its database. When that happens, there won’t be any recipe Yummly can’t categorize, Witlin said.