By labeling a person in a single category you leave nothing more for them to be. In order to streamline processes, though, managers label and categorize flavor chemists. Depending on the situation, I’ve been labeled: natural color expert, savory flavor chemist, sweet flavor chemist, natural flavorist, beverage flavorist, mint flavorist, safety expert and food applications chemist. These are the positive labels that I’ve been given; the negative labels were considered, but eventually blocked out.
The most lasting label I’ve had is “strawberry”. Strawberry is one of the top ten flavors for yogurt. It is the second favorite flavor for yogurt after vanilla. (Euromonitor 2007, top 10 flavored yogurts). Strawberry flavor is also popular for ice cream, toppings and variegates. At one point in my career, I had strawberry projects every month. Thankfully, I never tired of these projects and constantly found new and creative ways to master strawberry.
One of the highlights of my career was in early 2000. In this time period, Indian markets were growing lots of Mentha arvensis (common name corn mint) and isolating the menthol from it. Left over components of this process hit the flavor market at an extremely low-cost. Cis-3-Hexenol was one of these components. I quickly formulated and sold delicious, low cost strawberry flavors. I became “strawberry” and I was proud of it.
Cis-3-hexenol FEMA #2563 is also known as leaf alcohol because it smells like fresh leaves. Another descriptor for cis-3-Hexenol is fresh mowed grass. It’s naturally found in mentha arvensis, peppermint, spearmint, cucumber, ginger, raspberry, grapefruit, tea leaves etc. Cis-3-Hexenol makes a flavor green, authentic and fresh.
Cis-3-Hexenol is a straight chained 6 carbon atom molecule with a double bond in the center of the chain.
Without a double bond, this chemical would be Hexanol. Hexanol is found in many natural items: violets, truffles, tea, strawberries, grape , pear, tomato, etc. I’m not as fond of Hexanol, though. It is grassy, but also musty and oily. One flavor chemist I knew suggested it smelled like smashed bugs. Eww, yuck, gross and why is he smashing bugs?
Cis-3-Hexenol is in plants because it is synthesized through the process of photosynthesis. If anyone has interest, there is a small technical article “Green Routes to Green Notes” that explains the pathway.
Next time you taste a strawberry or a strawberry flavor food, see if you can taste some green notes. Concentrate on finding the “leaf alcohol”. Let me know if you can taste it.