Memorial day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and that means watermelon. Watermelon is the fruit we pack in the cooler for picnics at the park.
In contrast, watermelon flavored candies are not a universal American favorite. Some people think only “monsters” like watermelon candy.
When LifeSavers Five Flavors replaced the green lime flavored candy with a green watermelon flavored candy, it was a sad day. Like candy blog mentioned we were not asked what flavor we like; they just changed it.
Personally, I find that watermelon flavor always seems to taste like cleaner or chemicals. Often, this is because a chemical found in watermelon and known to characterize it, 2,6-Dimethyl-5-heptenal (aka melonal) is too high (e.g. 0.1 ppm rather than 0.05 ppm).
The best description for 2,6-Dimethyl-5-heptenal is “powerful”. 2,6-Dimethyl-5-heptenal is also green, fatty, and has sharp notes reminiscent of melons. At very low levels it is a useful component in watermelon flavor or at the wrong level it makes the flavor seem like it’s contaminated with cleaner.
Watermelon flavor is a really difficult flavor to create. Components of watermelon flavor are often used in perfumes for cosmetics and cleaning compounds as well as flavor. Consumers automatically associate the flavor with cosmetics unless the flavor is perfectly blended. There is no room for mistakes, it’s easy to get watermelon flavor wrong.
When creating a watermelon flavor, think about what the consumers enjoy about watermelon. Try to re-create the juicy sweet ever so lightly flavored fruit.
Sweet flavor components are the esters found in many fruits: ethyl butyrate, ethyl acetate, ethyl isobutyrate and the crystals used in most fruit flavors: vanillin and maltol. A light sweet floral note is needed to balance the harshness of the aldehyde: geranyl acetate, octyl butyrate, and methyl heptanoate. The ketone, anisyl acetone, can add the fruity, seedy note found in watermelon. Aldehyes, like octanal and 2,5-dimethyl-5-heptenal add that subtle sharp rind note, but be careful. Be careful that the flavor ages well and stays balanced and be careful that care is used with formulating and measuring.
I once had a flavor trainee assigned to assist me with formulating. She would never follow my instructions to make dilutions when making small batches of flavor. Her laziness was annoying. Because of the limitations of scales, there are no shortcuts. 2,6 Dimethyl-5-heptenal illustrates the importance of the accuracy of the scales used in both formulating and production. The difference between 0.05ppm and 0.1 ppm can be relevant to taste.