Too Good to be True

USP

I lost my innocence at age 27. It was the day I realized what is on a food label may not really be what is in the food. When the analytical tests showed that the "natural" food flavor I was trying to copy was actually artificial, I was shocked. Now, I look back and think how unreasonable I was. People lie to make money, it exists in every market and food is no exception. When it's too good to be true, it's probably not true. The only way to know if a food flavor has artificial chemicals added is to run an assay on Gas Chromatography (GC), Mass Spectrometer (MS) or perhaps to do Carbon Isotope Testing.  Even then, a person skilled at cheating and lying can may still be able to hide the truth. Although, I've lost my innocence, I'm … [Read more...]

Pomegranate Flavor

Pomegrantes

I do not get excited about pomegranates. I like them, but they are not special to me. My family has a few pomegranate trees, and I think they are messy and difficult to eat. They make great fall decorations, though. In the late 1970's, my siblings, the neighbor kids and I made an event out of eating pomegranates. Since my  mom didn't want to clean up a huge mess, she forbid us from eating them in the house. She told us to put on our old clothes and go outside when we wanted to "crack open" a pomegranate. We would smash them on a concrete slab, pick out the seeds (arils), gorge and eventually become annoyed by the slow process of eating a pomegranate. Apples and pears, which also ripen in the fall, were much easier to eat and … [Read more...]

Hop oil

Hop Flower (http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/hop-cones.jpg)

I am not a beer connoisseur. In fact, the large majority of my beer drinking was done between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. During that time, price was a concern; not taste. My interest in beer was purely social (i.e.. party!!!) In 1990, my early 20's, the beer market was different. We drank "big company beer", Miller and Coors. Currently, strong flavored craft beers appear to be the rage. These brews typically use up to five times more hops than traditional brews. Hops provides flavor (aroma) and bitterness to beer. Hops are part of the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants, which also includes Cannabis. Hops (Humulus lupulus), unlike Cannabis,  is a climbing perennial herb which grows up to 25 feet per season. A large … [Read more...]

Oil and Water; Math and Science

https://www.reference.com/science/don-t-oil-water-mix-5fa85ae059405d10

The orange peel contains the fragrance of the fruit, the "essential oil". An essential oil is different that a "fixed oil" (nut or vegetable oil) which is not fragrant. Flavor scientists value essential oils and they extract them so they can use them in flavors. These oils are excellent starting materials  for flavoring beverages, but they need to be modified to be useful. They do not "go into" a beverage. We modify the oils to make them "go in" or  make them "miscible". Chemists use miscible to explain the phenomenon of  two liquids with similar polarities (intermolecular interactions) being combined uniformly. In contract, chemists use soluble to explain the phenomenon of a solid (solute) dissolving in a liquid … [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...]

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...]

Apple Flavor and Ethyl-2-methyl butyrate

Lattin's Country Cider Mill & Farm, Olympia, WA

Americans love apples, hence the saying "As American as Apple pie". In Washington state, Apples are the largest agriculture crop with over 100 million 40 pound boxes being harvested annually. Last week I traveled to the "Apple Capital of the World", Wenatchee, WA. I was in meeting rooms most of the time, but I did manage to get out and purchase a big bag of Honeycrisp apples for home. My family never understood the fuss about Honeycrisp; until now. My children traditionally favor Gala or Fuji apples, but this bag of Honeycrisp apples opened our senses to what a truly a delicious apple Honeycrisp is. Next time, I will buy a crate of apples, because this bag only lasted a few days. These Honeycrisp apples were perfectly crisp, juicy, sweet, … [Read more...]

Cherry Flavor

IMG_4622

"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 … [Read more...]