Germacrene D fraction and Fig Flavor

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I was spoiled growing up. My parents did not buy us things, but they had a garden and orchard. I ate my fill of apricots, asian pears, and prunes right off the tree. Fresh, sweet, flavorful fruit. Often times I'd end up eating 10-20 apricots or prunes in one setting because they were so good. One fruit that I did not over consume was figs. I found fig skins sticky and the seeds odd. Grandma liked them, so I picked them for her and she was delighted.   Now that I have matured, I devour figs and their heavy, sweet floral character. Their aroma is reminiscent of Germacrene-D fraction isolated from Ylang-Ylang available from Treatt. Treatt calls the aroma chemical Germacrene-D fraction, but uses the … [Read more...]

Variety

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My husband says I do not like change, but he's not right. Since I like new ideas and foods, I believe change is good. However, he might be right, because it is the variety that appeals to me. Change doesn't always feel safe to me. Working as a flavor chemist provides variety. There are always new ideas for food products, new flavors and cost reductions. Unfortunately, I last landed a flavor chemist position with relentless, repetitive cost reductions projects. Therefore, to find variety, I got my masters in Food Safety and opened the doors to new opportunities. Change. I find food safety very interesting, especially during outbreak response. Discovering which food product is getting people sick and how to stop it quickly is … [Read more...]

I put chemicals in people’s food

Childhood Cancer Awareness

I put chemicals in people's food. I have been shamed for this, but the shame I have given myself hurts more. The year is 2005: My two year old was having a MRI  "to rule out anything". The MRI went over the scheduled 15-10 minutes. Finally, after over an hour, the MRI was complete and the doctor asked me to sit down. He told me my toddler had a mass in her head and that he is admitting her to the hospital. I asked to use the phone to call my husband. I told him calmly to get to the hospital, I heard him running and he was short of breath. Then I called my mom and could barely talk through the sobs. She got angry with me for not being able to talk; then she got upset. We were both hysterical. I thought that a toddler … [Read more...]

Lab Girl and Eucalyptol

LAB GIRL by Hope Jahren

Depression and anxiety are illnesses that haunt me. Sometimes they demand my undivided attention and other times they merely have an underlying presence in my thoughts. They hurt me, but they also help me develop new ideas. Hope Jahren's new novel, Lab Girl, chronicles her struggles with mental anguish as well as love of lab, science and hard work. In some ways, we are very much alike. We both: were born in 1969 love science and working in a lab are fascinated by nature understand Norwegian culture; having both lived there struggled as females in the science field with few women mentors like to write work too hard have difficulties managing stress and anxiety manage extreme anxiety by chewing hands or nails are … [Read more...]

Vinegar and Acetic acid

Vinegar, cooking and cleaning type

"What's on the wall above the shower?"asks my husband. "That's mold", I say in unbelief, thinking "Is he completely unaware that mold has been growing on and off in our bathroom for at least a year?? Does he not notice anything??" He then asks nicely,"Did you know vinegar is good for cleaning mold?" I reply (almost sarcastically )"great, then can you get the vinegar, climb up there, and wipe it down?"  He tells me "I should probably do that", but I don't hold my breath. A few days later, I get the Lysol wipes, a step stool and rub the mold off the walls above the shower. I do not use vinegar but I do scrub.   Vinegar (~ 5% dilution of acetic acid) is a weak acid and a good sanitizer (kills germs). Mold is controlled by … [Read more...]

Grapes, Grandma and Methyl anthranillate

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My grandmother died last month. She's been in my thoughts quite a bit. In fact, just last week, while preparing grapes, I thought of her. Grandma showed me how to prepare grapes by cutting them into little bunches. She said little bunches are handy for grabbing, packing in lunches, and as snacks. Every summer, I spent at least two weeks at her beach house in Laguna playing in the ocean. After a few "wipe-outs" in the  waves, cold grapes were a good snack. This summer, while vacationing in southern California, I kept with tradition and prepared grape bunches for beach snacks. My kids loved the grapes as well as the ocean and boogie boarding. My last conversation with my grandmother was about my beach vacation and I told her my girls … [Read more...]

The Bitter Taste of Science Fair

Tonic Water (needed to make glowing slime)

I'm feeling drained this New Years. In fact, I blew off my resolution to join a gym so I could stay home and drink wine. I feel stressed because my kid wants to take part in the school science fair. From the moment I picked her up from school, I was overwhelmed. We returned from a vacation late the night before, so I had groceries to put away, dishes to clean, dinner to start, laundry to begin and a middle schooler who needed help with her math homework. My 3rd grader was now demanding I understand the  excitement of science fair? She insisted I arrange playdates to recreate experiments from you-tube and get her signed up for science fair NOW!  If that wasn't enough, she was adamant that we go to the store and get tonic water and potato … [Read more...]

Cheesecake flavor

last piece of amateur's cheesecake

I baked my first cheesecake Christmas day. The recipe seemed easy enough, but I got distracted and missed the instruction not to over mix. My family was forgiving and loved it none-the-less. In fact, they said it tasted better than the usual dense cheesecakes. Long story short, I am an amateur when it comes to baking cheesecakes, but I have plenty of experience making cheesecake flavors. Food companies that make yogurt, ice cream, white chocolate or baked goods often look for cheesecake flavors. In order to formulate a good cheesecake flavor, a blend of butter acids is important.  Some recommendations: Butyric acid (FEMA 2221)-a component of butter and cheese-smells like rotten milk iso Valeric acid (FEMA 3102)-a component of … [Read more...]

Buttered Popcorn

Homemade Popcorn

"Popcorn is such a great snack. It is easy to forget how easy and cheap it is to prepare at home." (Leanne Brown, Eat Well on $4 a day, Good and Cheap). Thanks to Leanne's encouragement and a $2 bag of popcorn, the Bautista family has been enjoying homemade buttered popcorn as a treat and snack. My eight year old may not care much about price or nutrition, but she is of the opinion that buttered popcorn "is fun" and screamed in delight when she pulled the lid off the popcorn pot too early.  My twelve year old also has an opinion, "I didn't think I liked popcorn until I tried homemade buttered popcorn", because "it tastes good. Can I have some more? LEAVE SOME FOR ME!!" There are aroma chemicals that smell like popcorn, but I have … [Read more...]

Peach Flavor

picture from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Orangevale, California is home of some of the best peaches in the world, but I am biased because it is my hometown. Like most teenagers in Orangevale, my first job was at Tomich Bros. Orchard. Working at a peach orchard gave me an appreciation for hard work and the taste of a good variety of freshly picked peaches. As a child of the 1970's, I remember peach flavored sweets were not good. In fact peach flavored candies were usually thrown out because they had an odd heavy wine note. In the late 1980's this changed with the release of Snapple® Peach Ice Tea. For me, the peach flavor in Snapple® revolutionized peach flavors. The flavor chemist that developed the Snapple® peach flavor contacted my previous employer to apply for a … [Read more...]