Cocal; 5-Methyl-2 phenyl hexenal FEMA #3199

chocolate cake

Would you volunteer to taste chocolate cakes? Who says no to chocolate? Even though I'm in the middle of a house move and working long hours,I'll manage to find time to judge chocolate cakes this week at the Thurston County Fair. Cake baking contestants can expect a critical assessment of the chocolate flavor in their cakes. Flavor Scientist knows taste is important and I'll stick to the motto of "it's gotta taste good". Chocolate can be made from roasted cocoa beans, milk solids, sugar and vanilla. When formulating a chocolate flavor, I blend flavor "keys": vanilla, milk and cocoa flavors. Each"key"is composed of the chemical aromatics of each component. Cocoa "keys" are formulated using  aldehydes such as: Cocal or 5-Methyl 2-phenyl … [Read more...]

Coffee and Furfuryl mercaptan FEMA 2493

coffee cup

Small houses keep a family close. My childhood home was built in the 1950's and it is small and cozy. The kitchen has a dining room table that has a view of "out back". "Out back" is not small. There are five acres in which we raised cattle and hundreds of acres beyond which cattle once roamed. I have fond memories of mornings eating breakfast, looking out and smelling coffee. Perhaps this is why coffee is my favorite beverage. Furfuryl mercaptan (otherwise known as coffee mercaptan) is the characterizing component of coffee. Coffee flavor and Furfuryl mercaptan are generated by a roasting process and a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is one of the most important reactions in food flavor … [Read more...]

laevo-Linalool FEMA 2635

fruit_loops

My parents never bought sugar cereal. I had to go to Grandma's house for the "good cereal". Fruit Loops was a cereal I enjoyed at Grandma's house and I remember and the characteristic sweet citrusy smell when I poured milk on them. My first impression of laevo Linalool was "Fruit Loops". Other flavor chemists or perfumers might describe linalool as spicy, floral, woody, fresh and reminiscent of household cleaner. Linalool is a terpene alcohol, meaning it a component found in many plants. It is found naturally in citrus, bergamot, coriander, cinnamon, rosewood, laurel, mint, basil, birch, berries, grape, celery, peas, potatoes, cloves, cumin, mustard., etc. Linalool is an inexpensive flavor material.  It finds its way into many … [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...]

Butter Flavor, Diacetyl FEMA 2379

cant believe butter

Diacetyl (2,3-Butadione), the characterizing component of butter, is a naturally present flavor component in many of my favorite foods: butter, wine, coffee, strawberries, cheese, tea, beer and mangos. Just like butter is essential to any good recipe, diacetyl was an essential ingredient for flavors. I say was, because  diacetyl has been implicated in causing bronchiolitis obliterans, a debilitating and sometimes fatal lung disease, in workers in the food and flavor industry (http://defendingscience.org/case-studies/case-regulatory-failure-popcorn-workers-lung). Since then, it's use is in flavors is "complicated". Diacetyl, a yellow liquid,  is naturally present in food and safe to consume and the level used in food, but it is hazardous … [Read more...]

There’s money in Menthol

menthol-bold-crystal

Menthol is the most important flavoring chemical. Without menthol it would be difficult to get that cool clean feeling when we brush our teeth or chew gum. Cough syrups and drops wouldn't cool the throat and open nasal passages. In 2007, it was estimated that production of menthol was in excess of 19,000 metric tons.  http://www.leffingwell.com/menthol1/menthol1.htm  Because of it's importance, there is a huge demand for this flavor chemical. It is a natural material and therefore subject to price fluctuations as a result of envrionmental conditions. Naturally, peppermint oil (Mentha piperita) contains approximately 35-45% menthol and corn mint oil (Mentha arvensis) contains 65-75% menthol. Mentha arvensis is largely grown in India … [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...]

Methyl salicylate, Artificial Wintergreen oil (FEMA 2745)

methyl salicylate

A standard lab experiment in organic chemistry is to convert aspirin(acetylsalicylic acid) to Methyl salicylate. Methyl salicylate is an ester which smells sweet, is strong, is approved for use in food and is the characterizing flavor of wintergreen. Wintergreen flavor is very popular in the United States. Countries like Japan and Italy think it's most suitable for cleaning bathrooms, but not for eating. Personally, Wintergreen is one of my favorite flavors. It not only adds cool minty flavor, it adds sweetness. You can taste wintergreen in toothpastes, candies, gums, rootbeer, and bubble gum. Yes, that's right, root beer.  Try a swig of rootbeer;  doesn't it taste a little like wintergreen?  Rootbeer also has vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, … [Read more...]

Orange Essential Oil

orange tree

The most popular beverage flavor in the United States is orange. Although consumption of orange juice has declined in recent years, Americans are reported to have consumed 715,775 metric tons of orange juice in 2011.(http://www.indexmundi.com/agriculture/?country=us&commodity=orange-juice&graph=domestic-consumption)  That's a lot of juice!  Oranges are primarily grown in Florida, California and Brazil and they are processed for their juice. So what happens to the peels? Peels are further processed to isolate orange essential oil. Basically, the oil is squeezed out of the peel. Orange oil consists of limonene (~90%), geraniol (~5%), decanal (~3%), ocatanal (~3%) and myrcene (~2%). Other components included alpha and beta pinene, … [Read more...]

Flavors, oh how I love thee….

Essential oil with orange peel

Much like stashing a box of love letters from an old boyfriend, I have kept a box of essential oils and aroma chemical bottles. These small bottles contain the aromas that I need to create perfumes for foods. Like any true love affair, I'm filled with mixed emotions as I contemplate whether I open the box again or throw it out. For many years, formulating flavors was a dream job. Once one acquires the basic knowledge of materials and the confidence of a creative, one can blend the scent of about every flavor imaginable. Never was there a dull moment in such a job where trends ruled the industry. One day Peach Mango was popular and the next Asian Pear Green Tea Mint was at the top of the list. It is not an easy job to re-create entire … [Read more...]