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Flavor Bites: Methyl Jasmonate

By: John Wright
Posted: March 19, 2009, from the March 2009 issue of P&F magazine.

Methyl jasmonate (FEMA# 3410) is high up on my list of favorite ingredients. The material is found in nature, most notably in lemon, mint and tea. It is also an important natural component of jasmine absolute and boronia absolute. Methyl jasmonate can be used for good effect in a wide variety of flavors. It is highly characteristic and versatile and, most importantly, very flexible with respect to its use level. It represents a very soft, true, jasmine character with few, if any, secondary notes.

In this respect, it is preferable in most applications to methyl dihydrojasmonate (Hedione, Firmenich), which has a slight tea nuance. Moreover, it is much better than any of the other jasmine odorants, such as hexyl cinnamic aldehyde. It is very stable, yet highly diffusive. But surprisingly, despite these advantages it is the least used jasmine odorant in flavors.

Applications: From Basic to Novel

The most obvious use of methyl jasmonate is in jasmine flavors. Methyl jasmonate is present in jasmine flowers at around 4 ppm. Around 1,000 ppm has the effect of transforming a mundane flower flavor into a true floral bouquet. It also enables a flavorist to incorporate higher levels of benzyl acetate in the flavor without making the character seem artificial. One highly novel concept might be to use methyl jasmonate itself (at say, 0.2 ppm) in cooking. Perhaps a combination with duck and fresh ginger would be interesting; that dish would truly merit the often used description “molecular cuisine.”

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