Oil and Water; Math and Science

Essential Oil 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...]

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. Who Likes Watermelon Flavor? 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 … [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??" Vinegar for Cleaning 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 … [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. Cold Grapes 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 … [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. Components of Cheesecake Flavor 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 dairy butter acids is important.  Some recommendations: Butyric acid (FEMA 2221)-a component of butter and cheese-smells like rotten milk iso … [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). Popping Corn 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!!" Components of Popcorn Flavor There are aroma … [Read more...]

Apple Flavor Esters

The Apple Capital 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 purchase a big bag of Honeycrisp apples for home. Now we  understand the fuss about Honeycrisp. My children traditionally favor Gala or Fuji apples, but the bag of Honeycrisp apples opened our senses to what a truly a delicious apple Honeycrisp is. Next time, I buy a crate of apples, because the bag only lasted a few days. These Honeycrisp apples were perfectly crisp, juicy, sweet, yet tart and … [Read more...]

Peach Flavor

My Home Town 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 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. Snapple Peach The flavor chemist that developed the Snapple® peach flavor contacted my employer to apply … [Read more...]

Cherry Flavor

Brightly Colored Fruit "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 that animals cannot resist this brightly colored, sweet, aromatic fruit. 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. Benzaldehyde I made plenty of cherry flavors, but nothing close to what mother nature has designed. My cherry flavors … [Read more...]

Being Brave

My Thesis 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. Drop Everything Originally, … [Read more...]