Flavors are a mixture of compounds, distillates, concentrates, extracts and essential oils that are combined to give a specific flavor profile to a food. Flavor houses usually dilute these chemical mixtures so that the flavor has a usage level of 1% to 2% in the finished product.

Meat, cheese and vegetable flavors are categorized as “savory” in that they are typically enhanced with salt. This is opposed to sweet flavors, such as fruit flavors or brown sweet flavors (e.g., caramel and chocolate), that are enhanced with sugar, explained Laura Hartnett, manager of technical solutions, Edlong Dairy Flavors, in a presentation entitled “Utilizing Dairy Flavors in Baked Applications,” given at thePrepared Foods’ 2006 R&D Applications Seminar.

Dairy flavors are those that have a flavor profile of milk or foods derived from milk such as cheese, cream or butter. They may also include flavors typically used in ice cream or yogurt.

There are several types of dairy flavors. For example, there are the actual food materials such as cheese, whey or cultured dairy products and their dried or dehydrated counterparts. There are also dairy flavors produced through the use of enzymes. Products such as enzyme-modified cheese or lipolyzed butter oil have more intense flavors. These flavors may be further intensified through the use of flavor compounds, extracts or distillates. Such flavors may also be compounded with commodity products like dry blends, liquids or emulsions, said Hartnett.

Challenges and Benefits

Some challenges in working with dairy flavors include price fluctuations, flavor impact, functionality, supply, variation, difficulty in customizing flavor profiles and dairy allergens. However, the many benefits include the provision of unique characteristics; the ability to add processing notes without having to process; stability in abusive systems; an ability to customize the flavor; batch-to-batch standardization; and an ability to meet customer needs.

Bakery products that may benefit from dairy flavors include butter cookies, cheese crackers, buttermilk biscuits and snack seasonings. They may be baked into the dough, applied topically, added in an oil or slurry, or used in a filling or an inclusion, according to Hartnett.

A Natural & Artificial (N&A) Butter Type Flavor provides an idea of the cost savings that can be achieved. “Sweet,” “popcorn,” “corn,” “creamy,” “diacetyl,” “lactone,” “melted” and “nutty” are terms typically used to describe the flavor. A cost savings of about $0.12/lb can be obtained in a poundcake made with this flavor, when compared to butter.

When selecting a dairy flavor, the developer needs to consider cost, flavor profile, heat stability, interactions with other ingredients, shelflife stability, labeling and allergen issues. As an example, when formulating a cheese cracker made with real cheese, the developer has a number of options. One could formulate with 50% less cheese plus an enzyme-modified cheese to enhance the flavor profile. A product with reduced cheese and a top-note cheese flavor or a topical seasoning with an intense cheese flavor could also be used.

When embarking on any new bakery project utilizing dairy flavors, it is a good idea to discuss goals and ways of meeting those goals with a flavor company expert in dairy applications.

For more information:
Edlong Dairy Flavors • Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Laura Hartnett • 847-631-6765 • LHartnett@edlong.com