“When their seeds are ready for transport, plants summon mammals with the strong scents and tastes of ripe fruit” (Michael Pollan, Cooked). Anyone who has had a cherry tree decimated by birds knows this. Animals cannot resist brightly colored, sweet, aromatic fruits. Mother nature has made fruit impossible to resist because she needs animals to spread seeds.
Flavor scientists study mother nature and do their best to mimic her appeal. Our goal is to keep consumers happy and supply good tasting food. We study the aromatics naturally present in fruits as a guide for flavor development.
I have created plenty of cherry flavors, but none were close to what mother nature has designed. My cherry flavors have been benzaldehyde based, because that is what the American palette desires. Europeans, however, find Benzaldehyde, FEMA #2127 tastes like almond paste (marzipan) and not like cherry.
In the book Flavor Creation, John Wright suggests a “hawthorn note” for cherry flavor with a European profile. I describe hawthorne note as creamy, vanilla like, sweet and slightly fruity, reminiscent of the medicine for an upset stomach, Maalox. Aromatics used to achieve this hawthorne note include:
Most Americans do not like cherry candies and drinks to taste like the medicine Maalox. We like cherry flavors to taste like candy. “Jolly Rancher” cherry is a favorite profile:
Starting point for a “Jolly Rancher” cherry flavor (used much less than 1% in food/beverage):
- Anisaldehyde or Tolyl aldehyde ~10-15%
- Elthyl maltol ~5%
- Acetic Acid ~5%
- Anisyl acetate ~5%
- iso Amyl butyrate~5%
- Ethyl heptoate an Ethyl nonanaoate ~5%
- Methyl 2 octynoate ~1%
Starting point for candy cherry flavor (used much less than 1% in food/beverage):
- Benzaldehyde ~85%
- Amyl acetate and Amyl butyrate ~5%
- Ethyl acetate and Ethyl butyrate ~5%
For those of you who prefer authentic cherries, I highly recommend the delicately flavored Rainer cherries which are sweeter than the red Bing cherries. You can find them in the stores May-July in Western Washington. Besides tasting good, fresh cherries they supply the nutrition our bodies need.