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...]

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

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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...]

Antifreeze added to food and drink?

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Amyl acetate is a fairly inexpensive flavor chemical that smells like banana. I took a small bottle of this aromatic chemical from my flavor lab to use at home. Why? Because Amyl acetate is also a spot and stain remover. Some dry cleaners refer to this spot remover for paint or ink as "banana oil". When I found out a chemical I used to make food flavors was used as a dry cleaning chemical, I was alarmed. Then, once I realized I could  inexpensively and quickly salvage my children's paint stained school clothes with a small bottle of  "banana oil", I relaxed. Chemicals or ingredients that are safe to use in food are found in non-food applications. Recently, I discovered a flavor carrier, propylene glycol, is also useful as an … [Read more...]

10 Things about Ginger

Ginger Rhizomes

10 things about ginger: 1) It is important in pumpkin spice which is part of a Pumpkin Spice Latte #PSL. 2) It is described as warm, spicy,pungent, woody and/or citrusy. 3) It is commercially available in several different forms: ginger rhizome (fresh "root") ginger powder (dried and ground) ginger essential oil (steam distilled) ginger oleoresin (solvent extracted) ginger CO2 extract (extracted with supercritical carbon dioxide) 4) It is commercially available from many different growing regions: including India, China, Jamaica, Africa, Japan and the Middle East. Each growing region ginger varies in composition and flavor profile. 5) Ginger is used to flavor a variety of  food and beverages: Beverages: … [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...]

What am I eating? Capric acid, Decanoic acid, Coconut Oil and MCTs

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The first organic chemists discovered new compounds and gave them names based on the source of the compound. For example, Capric acid, which has a heavy dairy fat aroma and is found in goat milk, was named after caper-; the Latin meaning goat. Common names were given arbitrarily, not rationally or systematically. Therefore, a systematic way of naming organic chemicals was developed, IUPAC nomenclature. This naming system identifies how the carbon atoms of a given compound are bonded together and what functional groups present in the compound. For example, Capric acid is also called Decanoic acid because it is a 10 carbon chain fatty acid; deca meaning 10. In the flavor industry,both common and IUPAC names are used. Part of the exam to … [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...]

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...]