Hop oil

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...]

Pineapple flavor and Allyl caproate

My favorite unit in O-Chem(Organic Chemistry) was when the professor brought in a small bottle of Allyl caproate (aka Allyl hexanoate FEMA #2032) for the class to evaluate. It was my first exposure to a flavor aromatic. He passed around the bottle and asked us carefully smell the bottle and tell the class what we thought. I was intrigued, it smelled like pineapple. From that moment on, I was hooked on O-Chem. The unit's focus was probably naming or was focused on esters. Allyl caproate is an ester. Esters are often times described as fruity.  Allyl describes the group of atoms attached to the ester group.         Allyl caproate is fruity and smells like pineapple, but also has a … [Read more...]

Watermelon and 2,6-Dimethyl-5-heptenal (FEMA#2389)

Memorial day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and that means watermelon. Watermelon is the fruit we pack in the cooler for picnics at the park. In contrast, watermelon flavored candies are not a universal American favorite. Some people think only "monsters" like watermelon candy. When LifeSavers Five Flavors replaced the green lime flavored candy with a green watermelon flavored candy, it was a sad day. Like candy blog mentioned we were not asked what flavor we like; they just changed it. Personally, I find that watermelon flavor always seems to taste like cleaner or chemicals. Often, this is because a chemical found in watermelon and known to characterize it, 2,6-Dimethyl-5-heptenal (aka melonal) is too high (e.g. 0.1 ppm … [Read more...]

Vinegar and Acetic acid

"What's on the wall above the shower?"asks my husband. "That's mold", I say in unbelief, thinking "Is he completely unaware that mold has been growing on and off in our bathroom for at least a year?? Does he not notice anything??" He then asks nicely,"Did you know vinegar is good for cleaning mold?" I reply (almost sarcastically )"great, then can you get the vinegar, climb up there, and wipe it down?"  He tells me "I should probably do that", but I don't hold my breath. A few days later, I get the Lysol wipes, a step stool and rub the mold off the walls above the shower. I do not use vinegar but I do scrub.   Vinegar (~ 5% dilution of acetic acid) is a weak acid and a good sanitizer (kills germs). Mold is controlled by … [Read more...]

Grapes, Grandma and Methyl anthranillate

My grandmother died last month. She's been in my thoughts quite a bit. In fact, just last week, while preparing grapes, I thought of her. Grandma showed me how to prepare grapes by cutting them into little bunches. She said little bunches are handy for grabbing, packing in lunches, and as snacks. Every summer, I spent at least two weeks at her beach house in Laguna playing in the ocean. After a few "wipe-outs" in the  waves, cold grapes were a good snack. This summer, while vacationing in southern California, I kept with tradition and prepared grape bunches for beach snacks. My kids loved the grapes as well as the ocean and boogie boarding. My last conversation with my grandmother was about my beach vacation and I told her my girls … [Read more...]

Cheesecake flavor

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

"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

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

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...]