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...]

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...]

Cherry Flavor


"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...]

Being Brave

working on research project

Last week, I  submitted a paper to the Journal of Food Science. My hope is they will publish my research paper, GRAS use of Flavor Substances: Risk Management. In 2013, I began a this research project as part of my curriculum for a Masters in Food Safety. At the time, I did not realize how difficult it is to choose, justify, conduct research and write a paper. Blogging is much easier than publishing a scientific peer reviewed research paper. Blogs require the writer to click the publish button and there is no reformatting and peer review. Therefore, because it is much easier to post a convincing opinion on the web than publish a peer reviewed scientific paper, social media wins the war on science. Originally, my goal for the research … [Read more...]

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...]

Keeping it simple-Fruit Punch Flavor


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...]

What’s that smell? Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) FEMA 3536


What's that smell? Who cut the cheese? Is there a gas leak? Did I step on something? What's rotting in the frig? These are some questions you may ask when you walk into a flavor lab where the chemist has been using Dimethyl sulfide (DMS). DMS smells terrible and can politely be described as canned creamed corn. DMS is like a fair maiden in torn clothes; even though it stinks, it makes flavors taste better. A flavor chemist has to see the beauty DMS has to offer. Flavor scientists use DMS in seafood or meat flavors, like crab or chicken and in milk, butter, egg, mayonnaise, malt, vegetable, and fruit flavors. Fruit flavor formulas that  I have created using DMS include raspberry and strawberry. DMS adds the "ripe" note to berry flavors … [Read more...]