Keeping it simple-Fruit Punch Flavor

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SIMPLE KISS is an acronym used by scientists and engineers,"Keep it simple, stupid". The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple and not made complicated. Basically, simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity must be avoided. Flavor scientists often add too many unneeded components to a flavor. Why? Because they are artists. Just like chefs, a flavor scientist "throw things in", because it seems like it should improve the flavor or because the ingredient is a favorite. Sometimes a flavor scientist developes a new flavor using other lengthy flavors, like making a blackberry flavor by combining a strawberry, blueberry and raspberry flavor. A finished flavor can easily end up … [Read more...]

Grandma’s legacy-Bourbon Whiskey Flavor

Grandma's Bourbon Balls

My grandmother turned 103 last weekend. It is difficult to imagine living to be 103.  By 103 years old, your health declines and you have outlived most of your friends. The reward is that you become the matriarch. Matriarchs are dominant, fair, tough, feminine leaders. I feel lucky to have a matriarch as a role model. This year, my family felt it was important that I get some of my grandmother's things. Included was an antique hall table, an antique pitcher and Grandma's cookbook. The hall table evoked memories of playing cards, since the second drawer down on the left was the place she kept the playing cards for the family's favorite game Tripoly.  Other valuable memories were stored in her cookbook. Memories of tamale pie, persimmon … [Read more...]

Imitation Vanilla Flavor and Bibingka

Bibingka

Filipino food isn't as popular as Chinese or Thai food, but it is just as good. One Filipino food my family is particularly fond of is Bibingka. Bibingka is a rice cake style dessert which has a milky, vanilla coconut custard flavor. It is rich and creamy like pudding, has a crunchy top coat and is chewy. We have never seen it at the supermarket, but are fortunate that have relatives or my husband bake it for us. The ingredients for Bibingka vary, and my husband uses butter,sweet rice flour, sugar, evaporated milk, egg, coconut milk and vanilla to make it. My husband has baked so much Bibingka recently that he ran out of real vanilla extract; so he picked up some imitation vanilla flavor at the supermarket. As you can imagine, I was … [Read more...]

Blackberries and Ionones, Irones and Damascones

wild blackberries in the Northwest U.S.

Rows and rows of wild blackberries grew in the pasture behind my childhood home. I will forever remember the fragrant smell of these wild berries on a warm summer night. When I began my flavor chemist training, my first impression of elderflower absolute was ripe wild blackberries on a hot summer night. The smell of wild blackberries drying in the hot summer sun is deliciously sweet, slightly floral, yet full of ripe berry richness. My siblings,the neighbor kids and I would fill empty stainless steel milk buckets with the berries. Sometimes, we made a cobbler, but most times, we just ate the berries we picked. Currently, my home in the Northwest U.S. is surrounded by wild blackberry plants. I love to inhale their delicious odor and … [Read more...]

Mothers and blogging

Mom and daughters

There was a moment during the birth of my first daughter, when my only hope was that both my baby and I survived. Since that point forward, my mothering mantra has pretty much stayed the same. My children have had life threatening experiences and have had emotionally challenging experiences. Every pain they feel, I feel. Every fear they have, I feel as well. My vision of motherhood was not what  motherhood turned out to be. What I have found out is that mothering is emotional rollercoaster and it demands great responsibility. Even though there is responsibility, I enjoy my children and the experience. Like any good experience, the years since my eldest was born have flown by. We have had close moments when I share myself and my hopes, … [Read more...]

Leave Well Enough Alone?

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In the August 2013 Food Technology, there is an article titled "GRAS: Leave Well Enough Alone" http://www.ift.org/Food-Technology/Past-Issues/2013/August/Columns/PERSPECTIVE.aspx.  GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) refers to food additives used in the USA.  Our laws indicate that all ingredients added to our foods must be GRAS. We add new GRAS materials to our food supply constantly and many of these additives are flavor ingredients. The consumer will not always be aware of these new additives, because they are labeled with generalities such as "flavor". The article "Leave Well Enough Alone" are the thoughts of one person in the food industry. The author, Eric Greenberg writes that "in terms of food ingredients and additives, … [Read more...]

I am Strawberry

strawberry clip art

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 … [Read more...]