Extracts: A classic approach to modern needs

20 Apr 2021

As the list of consumer demands grows, extracts have become an essential part of the flavorist’s palette.

“Taste may change, but inclination never.” In as early as the 17th century, François VI, Duke de La Rochefoucauld, already realized something that still holds true today. Many factors influence the formulas of flavor creations. Political topics, religion, sustainability or the organic trend, to name just a few examples.

Extracts: A classic approach to modern needs
Extracts have become an essential part of the flavorist’s palette

To satisfy continually growing demands, flavors need to be reformulated or even recreated. Therefore, the use of extracts in flavors increases significantly. Generally speaking, extracts are not defined in European regulations and are thus often associated with the term flavor preparation. This does not only refer to essential oils but it also includes distillates, macerates (fluid extracts) and solid extracts. They all result from plant extractions, but they are obtained by different processes, under special conditions and involving one or more solvents.
The use of new technologies, e.g. innovative distillation processes, allows to go even further by extracting and concentrating products which was not possible before. This applies to the product series HiPure® launched by Destilla. Not only are the raw materials crucial but also the choice of solvent, concentration, ingredients and much more. Economic efficiency must not be disregarded either.

To illustrate this complex topic, below are some examples on why extracts should be a must have in the flavorist palette.

Use under the new EU regulation and for 95/5 flavors

Conscious consumers are on the rise and this is reflected in the increasing demand for organic products. The sector is booming and the existing regulation, which dates from 2007, was no longer suited to the market. A remodeling was needed in order to prevent fraud and ensure consumer trust. The new regulation 2018/848 will apply from 01/01/2021 but it is already affecting the flavor industry.

Currently natural flavors, natural flavors WONF, natural source flavors (95/5) as well as conventional or organic extracts are allowed. From 01/01/2021 on, only 95/5 flavors and extracts (conventional or organic) will be allowed in the production of organic foodstuffs. This puts real pressure on the food producers who, in turn, urge flavor suppliers to adapt to the new regulation.

When formulating 95/5 aromas, the first flavoring preparation that comes to flavorists’ mind is essential oils. When it comes to natural citrus flavors, it is not an issue. However, for some flavors where no such product is available, like pistachio or passion fruit, flavorists have to look for other alternatives. Destilla, thanks to its extensive knowledge regarding flavor extraction, can provide a range of solutions to help flavorists create 95/5 flavors. Distillates, like passion fruit, are particularly popular: due to their high alcohol content. They are easy to use in flavor composition and bring genuine fruit pulp aroma with sulphury notes.

Providing authenticity

Bringing authenticity to the flavors, not only through the raw materials but also through taste, is one of many challenges flavorists have to face. This is particularly true when it comes to coffee.

Since roasted coffee is made up of more than 900 aromatic molecules, it is quite difficult to formulate a “true-to-nature” flavor with a limited number of components. Additionally, the high price of essential ingredients like aldehydes and pyrazines - that are naturally created throughout Maillard reactions during coffee roasting – make designing a natural coffee flavor quite expensive.

Manufactured with a unique distillation process, a Coffee HiPure® is a remarkable solution for all coffee formulas. Its flavor profile is very close to roasted coffee beans and gives great support to the pyrazines. Refining the flavor in a specific direction is then just a matter of a few carefully picked molecules.

In case a more powerful product is needed or if ethanol is a problem, especially with regard to religious status, there are alternatives based on water or PG. For instance, using Black Tea HiPure® will bring an authentic tea taste with honey and bitter notes, while complying with halal requirements.
Usage as flavor modifiers

At lower usage, extracts are not recognizable as such but act as modifiers of the overall profile. Even high impact products like fenugreek extract can be used, providing that the usage is low enough not to overwhelm the whole flavor. Fenugreek has a very long history: seeds and leaves have been used not only in food but also for medicinal purposes. It has a penetrant and very tenacious flavor, reminiscent of caramel and maple with a vegetable, soupy character. The molecule responsible for this savor is sotolone (FEMA#3634), one of the most powerful raw materials used in flavors.

However, when used under the identification threshold, it enhances the caramel character in brown flavors. In nut flavor, it rounds up the roasted pyrazines notes and gives a pleasant roasted undertone. In alcoholic flavors, like whisky and rum, it smoothes the fusel notes and enhances the woody and smoky character.

Cocoa distillate can also be used in whisky flavors to boost the malty and phenolic notes. And why not try using it in fruit flavors like cherry? In this particular formula, it will mask the dominant benzaldehyde aroma and add fine nutty and powdery notes.

Usage to bring mouthfeel
Even if extracts are primarily used for flavoring properties, experience shows that they can also improve the mouthfeel, like pine nut distillate does for example. The fattiness of the product enhances texture and mouth feeling to a flavor that would otherwise be flat.

Molasses and malt extracts are other examples. In addition to being prime raw materials for brown and alcoholic flavors, they bring texture and fullness to rum and whisky flavors. In addition, cane molasses is ideally suited to give the product caramel-like depth and smooth the strong alcoholic notes. In all cereal flavors, a malt extract can be used as a very harmonious roasted basis. Moreover, malt extracts are equally suited for whisky flavors to smooth the alcoholic fusel notes.

One last example worth mentioning would be chocolate flavors, which often present a challenge. Here, St. John Bread can help, which gives the flavor a nice, slightly animalic, yet at the same time sweet character. The sweetness mentioned can help to smooth pyrazines and thus create a more harmonious product with greater depth.

Extracts – versatile raw materials

Due to their various uses, extracts are increasingly becoming the focus of flavorists when it comes to developing new products. In future, more importance should be attached to the additional use mentioned in the article apart from the original, still dominant flavoring characteristics.

On the one hand, the reasons for this are the new legal requirements in Europe but on the other hand, in particular, the continuing rise in demand for natural and authentic flavors. More and more flavorists are facing this challenge in their daily work. Destilla will be pleased to provide you with solutions surrounding the topic of natural flavors and extracts.

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