Tropical Fruits and New Concepts in Dressings and Marinades

Tropical fruits are appearing everywhere, with mango leading the way. Passion fruit, tamarind and papaya are not far behind, and the market is ripe for new exotic fruits. Most of these fruits have applications in beverages, desserts, bakery fillings and frostings, ice creams, sherbets, smoothies, marinades, dressings, gravies and sauces, according to two presentations, “New Concepts in Dressings and Marinades” and “Pomegranate: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue (Red)!” given separately by Tony Cantu, senior R&D technologist, and Don Giampetro, vice president of sales, both of iTi Tropicals Inc.

Mango, often known as the “King of Fruits,” has a unique flavor and is bursting with nutrients. It has an intense, sweet flavor; smooth, creamy texture; and prominent yellow to orange color. There are as many varieties of mango as there are applications. Mango, a rich source of beta-carotene, grows year-round in India, where the warm climate and diverse conditions make it possible.

Gac fruit is a seasonal fruit native to Vietnam. The ripe fruit is dark orange and contains 70 times the lycopene found in tomatoes and 10 times the beta-carotene in carrots.

Coconut cream is made from the fleshy, edible meat of the coconut fruit. Coconut cream is sweet, with its distinct coconut flavor and buttery mouthfeel. It is a great taste substitute for dairy products in beverages and in desserts, gravies, soups and sauces.

The Acerola cherry, also known as the Barbados cherry, is native to Brazil. Containing high amounts of vitamin C, it is a favorite in the Brazilian market, as popular as orange juice in North America. One application is as a vitamin C booster in beverages.

Passion fruit is a unique tropical fruit from Ecuador that can fill a room with its fresh, citrusy fragrance. It has a high-impact flavor to match and is a major source of vitamin A. The pineapple is one of the best-known and most popular tropical fruits around the world. It is high in manganese and vitamin C, with a wide variety of applications.

The papaya is a nutritious and delicious fruit often referred to as the tree melon. It is pear-shaped, with bright, golden yellow skin. The flesh also is golden yellow or red, juicy and silky smooth with a sweet, tart flavor. The papaya is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and potassium.

Another tropical fruit grown in many parts of the world is the tamarind. The fruit is a brown, pod-like legume, which contains a soft, acidic pulp and many hard, coated seeds. With considerable amounts of potassium, phosphorous and calcium, its pulp is also a source of tartaric acid and pectin. The juice may contribute health benefits similar to wine, due to the presence of antioxidants. 

While very popular today, the pomegranate is one of the oldest fruits found on earth, dating back to 4,000 B.C. It grows in semi-arid, mild temperature climates and was first introduced in California in 1769. Its major nutrients include polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins, beneficial antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body. It also contains vitamins A and C and is available in juices, concentrates, purees, extracts and powders, with a variety of applications.

This summary consists of the two presentations, “New Concepts in Dressings and Marinades” and “Pomegranate: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue (Red)!” given respectively by Tony Cantu, senior R&D technologist,, and Don Giampetro, vice president of sales,, iTi Tropicals Inc.

—Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Flavoring Bakery Products

Bakery products are based on flour, sugars, fats and other minor, but important, components such as salt, color, flavoring and gases. By varying the combination of ingredients, a variety of baked goods can be created, including breads, pastries, biscuits, cakes and fillings. Each of these products, with their ingredients and processes (especially heat), interact with flavors in specific ways.

Foods such as pancakes and English muffins are baked on or sandwiched between hot plates and are difficult to flavor because of the intense heat involved. Very few flavors can withstand this kind of processing, so they need to be added to some sort of filling or coating, said Agneta Weisz, vice president, R&D, Comax Flavors, in a presentation titled, “Flavoring Bakery Products.”

Powder goods or chemically leavened goods usually have the characteristic chemical taste of the particular baking powder. The flavoring must overcome this residual taste and cannot be too acidic or basic, or it will interfere with the rising process. For example, an acidic yogurt flavor used in a scone may need to be encapsulated with high melting point fats to prevent interference by the acid. The flavor will be released during baking after the product has risen.

Savory biscuits are usually thin, with a high-fat and low- sugar content. They require a high baking temperature and are difficult to flavor. Semi-sweet biscuits often are made using chemical reducing agents that may destroy the flavor. Sweet biscuits (cookies) have higher fat and sugar levels and are baked at lower temperatures, allowing them to display subtle notes of good vanilla and butter flavorings. Shortbread typically contains high amounts of butter and not so much sugar. It is possible to substitute a large percentage of the butter in shortbread with a good butter flavor and vegetable shortening.

Cakes, being high in fat, sugar and moisture, require a moderate baking temperature and, therefore, complex flavors with more pronounced top-notes can be used. Typically, the flavors need to overcome a baked egg/protein aroma and Maillard reaction notes.

Fillings and toppings are ingredients where flavors can play an important role. Many bakery jams are made mostly of apple and plum, and other flavors can be added. Icings and frostings are another good means of adding flavor to baked goods, and typically are not heated after adding flavors, allowing for more flexibility in flavoring ingredients.

Flavor suppliers need to have all of the characteristics of the finished food and all of the specifications, such as bake temperature and shelflife expectations, in order to provide the optimal flavor for the product. The key to the best possible bakery product is communication between manufacturer and flavor supplier.

“Flavoring Bakery Products,” Agneta Weisz, vice president, R&D, Comax Flavors,

—Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Yeast Extracts to Improve Flavor and Reduce Salt

Umami is the fifth fundamental taste perception, after sweet, sour, salt and bitter. It is described as “sweet-salty,” “savory,” and “brothy,” and its tactile properties are described as “mouth-filling,” “mouth-watering” or meaty.” The key components found in yeast extracts are free amino acids (especially glutamic acid), 5’ nucleotides (IMP, GMP), peptides, organic acids, minerals and other flavor compounds, which contribute to umami taste, explained Otis Curtis, business development manager, DSM Food Specialties, during a presentation titled, “Yeast Extracts are Powerful Tools for Food Formulators: Improving Flavor, Driving Product Preference and Reducing Salt.”

Many ingredients have naturally occurring umami taste components, such as free glutamic acid and 5’ nucleotides. These include tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms and shellfish.

The assembly of a finished food product or meal is often a mixture of ingredients that contribute to umami taste. For example, Japanese soup can include good sources of free glutamic acid and 5’ nucleotides from nori (dried seaweed), katsuobushi (dried skipjack) and dried shiitake mushrooms. Parmesan cheese may also be used on the finished meal to further improve flavor. Alternatively, yeast extracts can be chosen, based on their composition and contribution to the overall flavor profile of the finished food.

Yeast extracts improve flavor impact, help balance flavors, enhance mouthfeel and satisfaction, drive product preference, and can help decrease salt and fat usage. Current technologies for sodium reduction stem from tools that have been around for decades. The real art is finding ways to utilize food ingredients and processing that are both nutritionally balanced and have the taste consumers desire.

It is intuitively known how to make fresh lemon juice taste great: just add sugar to offset the acidity.  However, too much sugar may be consumed at the expense of balanced nutrition. Umami taste also has a relationship with other basic tastes (sweet, salt, sour/acid, bitter), and formulators are learning how this can help improve flavor and reduce sodium.

Currently, there are a very limited number of tools to influence sodium perception. Mineral salts, like potassium or magnesium chloride, free amino acids such as glutamate, lysine and 5’ prime nucleotides are some of the options. Potassium chloride at higher levels can provide some aspects of salty taste, but this usually gives some bitterness. To control the bitter off-flavor, maltol, glycerin and sugars sometimes are used.

In one example of balanced flavor and nutrition, a low-sodium sour cream chive dip could use high-nucleotide yeast extracts to enhance sodium perception and improve flavor, while a vitamin D and calcium pre-mix improves calcium content and absorption. Clearly, there is no silver bullet, and the greater the sodium reduction, the more formula modification required. Yeast extracts are a popular solution, as evidenced by the 602 new U.S. food products in the past 12 months containing those ingredients.

“Yeast Extracts are Powerful Tools for Food Formulators: Improving Flavor, Driving Product Preference and Reducing Salt,” Otis Curtis, business development manager, DSM Food Specialties,

—Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Forward Flavors Meet Mainstream America

Flavor ingredients have many roles, including compensating for the loss of flavor during processing; masking bad-tasting ingredients; supplementing, enhancing or modifying the original taste or aroma of a food; or replacing another ingredient.

When choosing a flavor, a selection checklist is helpful. The questions that are answered are flavor type, label declaration, flavor form, flavor strength, solubility, sensory effect, processing conditions, other ingredient interactions, cost parameters, timing, the customer target and whether duplication will be necessary, said Chris Warsow, corporate executive chef, Bell Flavors & Fragrances, during a presentation titled, “Forward Flavors Meet Mainstream America.”

Flavor trends come from around the globe. There is a trickle-down effect that starts with fine dining, gradually reaching casual dining and, finally, quick-service restaurants. And the changing population and demographics, as well as health and wellness trends, also have their effects on flavor trends. The Hispanic population is to double by 2050, and the Asian population is also on the rise in the U.S. Foreign-born residents are to rise from 12% to 19%, and the population is also aging because of the decreased U.S. birthrate.

Going mainstream with trendy flavors often occurs by mixing familiar with unfamiliar flavors. Neo-fusionism, as it is called, can be seen in these examples: Vietnamese Chicken Sandwiches (bahn mi), Argentinean grilled steak, Tandoori Chicken Pizza or cochinita pibil wraps. International street foods are a source of flavor trends, including Mexican tortas and empanadas, Asian Singapore noodles, Indian chaat and samosas, or Chinese steamed buns (baozi). The main flavor trends stem from Latin America, Asia and the Mediterranean.

Important Latin American flavors include cilantro, fire-roasted meats, slow-roasted pork, coconut, Columbian aji (a condiment made from garlic and hot peppers), achiote or ground annatto seed, and yerba mate, which is a tea-like drink. Mojo criollo is a marinade made with garlic, sour orange and herbs. Other characteristic ingredients and flavors include jalapeño and other hot chilies, smoked meats, lime and citrus, chorizo, sofrito or garlic, bell peppers, onions, açai, guanabana, guavas and mangos.

Flavors of interest from Asia are kaffir lime leaf, Chinese five-spice powder, Chinese brown sauce, Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce or sriracha, lemongrass, hoisin, Chinese ham, coconut, Thai hot and sour soup, tamarind, lychee, guyaba, Thai fish sauce, cilantro, Szechuan peppercorns, teriyaki, mirin, yuzu, fermented sausages, sadachi and logan berry.

Mediterranean flavors arrive from the North African countries of Morocco and Tunisia; the Middle Eastern countries of Syria and Lebanon; and the Northern Mediterranean countries of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Hot flavors from the Mediterranean include pomegranate molasses, cilantro, parsley, mint, tamarind, olive oil, lemon and citrus and ras-al-hanout (a Moroccan spice blend meaning “best of shop”). Chermoula is a Moroccan pesto sauce, and shwarma is a spit-roasted meat. These, along with chorizo, smoked paprika, extra virgin olive oils and kefta are characteristic influences of the Mediterranean.

“Forward Flavors Meet Mainstream America,” Chris Warsow, corporate executive chef, Bell Flavors & Fragrances,

—Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Natural Flavor Enhancement

Flavor is the sensory impression of a food or other substance and is determined mainly by the chemical senses of taste and smell. The trigeminal senses, which detect chemical irritants in the mouth and throat, may also occasionally be important to flavor. The flavor of a food can be altered with natural or artificial flavorants that affect these senses. The five tastes, salty, sour, sweet, bitter and umami, are taken into consideration when choosing ingredients to heighten flavors, create savory flavors or mask flavors.

Natural flavor enhancers, including organic acids, are found in lemon juice, raisins (or raisin-derived ingredients like paste or juice concentrate), soy sauce, anchovies, vanilla, cocoa, Stevia, licorice and other foods.

Glutamic acid and its ions and salts are flavor compounds that provide umami or savory taste to food. It is a natural constituent of many fermented or aged foods. Glutamic acid, in its sodium salt form, monosodium glutamate (MSG), is widely used as a flavor enhancer in the food industry and in Chinese cuisine, said Thomas J. Payne, food industry consultant for the California Raisin Marketing Board, during a presentation titled, “Natural Flavor Enhancement.”

Tartaric acid is naturally occurring in many plants, particularly grapes, bananas and tamarinds and is one of the main acids found in wine. It is added to other foods to give a sour taste and is used as an antioxidant.

California raisins contain naturally occurring organic acids, including tartaric, propionic and glutamic acids, which can provide valuable benefits to manufacturers. These components can enhance flavors and inhibit mold growth as a natural preservative. California raisins contain some 2.2% tartaric acid, which enhances the flavor of foods. They also contain precursors of the Maillard reaction, flavor potentiators in roasted, baked and microwaveable products.

Raisins contribute to flavor enhancement by helping find the right heat range, masking strong flavors like fish, naturally helping preserve foods, eliminating sorbate and boosting the good flavors of certain foods like pomegranate.

Currently, raisins are a component in a wide variety of new products in North America in many different categories. Their use can contribute to product claims such as kosher, organic, no-trans fat, all-natural, no preservatives, whole-grain, low-/no-/reduced-fat, no-cholesterol and no-allergens, including gluten-free.

“Natural Flavor Enhancement,” Thomas J. Payne, food industry consultant for the California Raisin Marketing Board,

—Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Great-tasting and Healthy Sourdough Solutions

Taste is essential in consumer purchasing behavior. Sensory analysis helps developers to understand and identify consumer taste preferences in order to develop specific bakery flavor profiles.

Sourdough gives flavor to bread and is defined as a mixture of wheat or rye flour and water that is fermented by lactic acid bacteria, with or without yeasts. The micro-organisms that determine the taste of a sourdough are wild yeasts and Lactobacillus that are present in flour and in the environment. While most breads are unflavored, there is considerable activity in the flavored segment. More exotic and specialty breads all over the world continue to boom, divulged Christophe Dewilde, business development manager, flavors, Puratos Corporation, in two separate presentations titled, “Sourdough Solutions: From Consumer Understanding to Flavor Improvement” and “Great Taste and Wellness.”

Lactobacillus bacteria have specific nutritional needs for amino acids, peptides, vitamins, salts, sugars and more. Most of the time, these needs are very specific. Depending on the kind of bacteria, the type of nutrients required will be different. Their range of growing temperature is between 35°-127°F, with the optimal temperature between 86°-104°F.

Lactobacillus can be divided into two groups. Homofermentative lactobacilli produce lactic acid from maltose or glucose in anaerobic conditions. As they do not produce carbon dioxide, yeast must be used to make the dough rise. Heterofermentative lactobacilli produce carbon dioxide and acetic acids, in addition to lactic acid.

In the traditional production of sourdough, water, flour and sugar are combined in a bowl. Buttermilk or milk can be substituted for half of the water, if desired. The bowl is covered with a towel and placed outside on a warm, breezy day in order to capture wild yeast strains from the air. After several hours, the batter starts to develop bubbles and a pleasantly sour smell. This batter or starter can then be used to make sourdough bread, when a portion of it is added to flour and water, milk or buttermilk.

Influences on the end product include the ingredients or type of flour and liquid used; the type of microorganism; and temperature. Temperatures between 68-77°F produce more acetic acids, yielding a more aggressive, acid type of sourdough. Temperatures between 86-95°F produce more lactic acids, yielding a more full-bodied flavor.

The length of fermentation also plays an important role. If fermented too long, pH levels can drop too low and other microorganisms may start to take the lead. With all of these parameters, production of traditional sourdough is not easy. That is why ingredients such as a ready-to-use sourdough can be very helpful. The advantages are its distinct flavor, the softer and more elastic crumb provided, a longer lasting softness and better crustiness, and a longer shelflife due to mold inhibition. In addition, with consumers concerned about salt and sodium intake, developers can use a salt replacer sourdough powder to enhance salty perception in baked goods. Also available is a gluten-free sourdough with good flavor.

Summary based on two presentations, “Sourdough Solutions: From Consumer Understanding to Flavor Improvement” and “Great Taste and Wellness,” Christophe Dewilde, business development manager, flavors, Puratos Corporation,

—Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Use of Dairy Flavors in Cost-optimization Projects

According to a survey by the California Milk Advisory Board, the majority of U.S. consumers favor strongly flavored cheeses. Some 64% said they loved pungent cheeses such as bleu and aged Cheddar, while only 28% preferred mild-tasting cheeses. The top five specialty cheeses preferred were aged Cheddar, aged Parmesan and Romano, Provolone, bleu and feta. About 70% of consumers said they were willing or eager to try new cheeses.

The top hot items rated by chefs were bleu and Gorgonzola at 62%; hard, aged cheese at 60%; Chevre or goat cheese at 56%; cheese course platters at 53%; and feta at 37%. A cheese course is often served in fine dining, after the entrée and before dessert. It contains a variety of cheeses, sometimes with fruit and/or bread, and typically is served with wine.

Upscale cheese profiles are on the rise. Even cheeseburgers are now made with a variety of cheeses, such as bleu, goat and Asiago. Artisanal cheeses add new flavors, and cheese and smoke flavors appear to go together. Hispanic types like queso fresco and cotija are showing a strong following. Domestic artisan and farmstead (cheese made on the farm from the milk produced there) cheeses are hot.

More “non-standard of identity” cheese products are being developed, as manufacturers look to enhance value of products and streamline operations. Flavors add value by enhancing, complementing and/or intensifying inherent flavors. They can be used for cost reduction by replacing natural cheese (e.g., block Cheddar cheese). They can also supplement flavor lost in processing or create totally new taste concepts.

Natural dairy flavors are created through enzyme modification, fermentation, or reaction and compounding technologies. These flavors are rich in desirable flavoring compounds, free from off-flavors and have enhanced strength and flavor profiles. This category includes enzyme-modified cheeses, butter, butter oil and cream. These enzyme-modified dairy ingredients (EMDI) can be enhanced even further with added compounded flavors or fermented products, starter distillates, cultured sour cream, yogurt or cream cheese flavors.

An example of product enhancement using dairy flavor is taking a young Wisconsin Cheddar cheese and adding a fruity/rindy, aged and umami flavor to produce a Black Diamond Canadian Cheddar-type cheese flavor or a Vermont Cheddar-type cheese flavor. These flavors can reduce the need for expensive dairy ingredients, yet add true dairy character, because they are made from dairy ingredients. Dairy flavors add excellent base notes, with long-lasting, lingering flavor. They are compatible with most food systems, water- or oil-based. They have good heat stability with baking, retort or microwave methods and enhance mouthfeel and add richness—with a clean label. 

“Use of Dairy Flavors in Cost-optimization Projects” was presented at Prepared Foods’ R&D Applications Seminar-CHICAGO in September 2007, by the marketing division of Chr. Hansen. The flavor and seasoning divisions of Chr. Hansen have since been acquired by Symrise.

—Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor