Figure 1. 4-Hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde (vanillin).

Figure 2. 3-Phenyl-2-propenal (cinnamaldehyde).

Figure 2. 3-Phenyl-2-propenal (cinnamaldehyde).

of that food product (5). Although a large number of flavor compounds are usually identifiable in a flavor profile, in general only a small number have a significant effect on the overall flavor, these compounds are often called character impact compounds. An example is 2-isobutylthiazole (Fig. 3), the character impact compound found in tomato. The relative concentration of each component in a flavor profile is crucial for its imitation. Flavors can be biosyn-thesized naturally in foods, such as apples, bananas, and other fruits and vegetables, or they can be produced from precursors during processing or thermal treatment such as baking, roasting, and frying. Furthermore, flavors can be generated by enzymatic modifications such as in cheese or by microbial fermentation as in butter.

The origin of natural flavors and their precursor compounds is found in animal and plant tissue, so flavor research interfaces with other disciplines in its effort to extract and identify these compounds (6,7).

Flavor Enhancers

Monosodium glutamate (MSG), 5'-ribonucleotides such as 5'-inosine monophosphate (5'-IMP) and 2-methyl-3-hydroxy-4-(4H)-pyrone (maltol) (Fig. 4) are called flavor enhancers. The actual mechanism of flavor enhancement is not known. These substances contribute a delicious or umami taste to foods when used at levels in excess of their detection limits and enhance flavors of food at levels below their detection thresholds. Their effects are prominent and desirable in the flavors of vegetables, dairy products, meats, poultry, and fish.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, or essences. When exposed to air they evaporate at room temperature. They are usually complex mixtures of a wide variety of organic compounds (such as hydrocarbons, terpenes, alcohols, ketones, phenols, aldehydes, esters, etc). Essential oils are obtained by steam distillation or solvent extraction from many odorous plant sources such as clove, cinnamon, orange, lemon, jasmine, rose, and so on. The organic constituents of essential oils are synthesized by the plant during its normal growth.

The Mediterranean Diet Meltdown

The Mediterranean Diet Meltdown

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