Cactus Jelly

Cactus Jelly

The best part about traveling is trying new foods. Some memorable food experiences I have had include: gjetost in Norway turtle soup in New Orleans street tacos in Tijuana aperitifs in Italy okonomiyaki in Tokyo poke in Maui barbecue in Kansas City Still, there are a million more places to visit and foods to try. My flavor chemist career had me traveling the globe, but since I have had children, my once fast paced life has changed. Now, when I travel, I look for places with amusement parks and kid friendly meals. Unique food from other regions are gifts I receive from globe-trotting friends or family members. More recently, my brother-in-law gave me a jar of cactus jelly that he got in  Arizona, a place I would love to … [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...]

Smoke flavor

Fire and smoke flavor

My husband is trying to kill me. Slowly, like the way he smokes ribs on the barbecue. He loves smoke flavor and he has mastered the art of smoking and slow cooking meat. I find a touch of smoke flavor good, but I am certain too much is bad for you. Smoke flavor is made on a large scale and sold to bacon, ham, hot dog, rib, cheese, sauce and flavor manufacturers. Besides imparting flavor and color, smoke flavor is functional. It creates the skin of the hot dog, it is an antioxidant and an antimicrobial. Smoke flavor manufacturers buy lots of sawdust and burn it. They control the burn and capture the essence generated by the smoke. Sawdust is from wood which is about 40-60% cellulose and 2-30% lignin. Cellulose will produce carbonyls, … [Read more...]

Fenugreek Extract and Maple Flavor FEMA #2486

Maple syrup

Until recently, I didn't realize Fenugreek seeds were one of the main ingredients in Indian spiced curry. My experience with Fenugreek was that it is brown sticky mass that smelled like maple. I knew Fenugreek not as a seed or a plant, but as a botanical extract. Extracts are concentrated natural products obtained by solvent extraction (i.e. ethyl alcohol or hexane extraction). The aroma and taste components that are extracted by the solvent are further concentrated by evaporating the solvent. Once the solvent is removed, a botanical extract is made by combining the  aroma and taste components with a mixture of glycerine, caramel color and corn syrup. A flavor chemist has the option of using roasted or unroasted Fenugreek. Fenugreek … [Read more...]