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Flavor Bites: cis-3-Hexenol

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John Wright

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Last month we looked at the effects of using hexyl alcohol in flavors, especially the useful effect of enhancing green notes when hexyl alcohol is used in conjunction with cis-3-hexenol. This has the useful consequence of reducing the occasional need to use cis-3-hexenol at excessively high levels and incidentally reducing raw material costs.

cis-3-Hexenol (FEMA 2563, CAS 928-96-1) is easily the most important green note used in flavors, indeed it is the most important green note occurring in nature. The ideal level of use of cis-3-hexenol in any flavor depends very much on the level of green character that is required and can cover quite an exceptionally wide range. As is so often the case, more is not necessarily better and moderate levels often give the most balanced and attractive effects.

Note that the dose rates given throughout this article are the levels suggested for use in flavors intended to be dosed at 0.05% in ready-to-drink beverages or in a simple bouillon.

Berry Flavors

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Strawberry: cis-3-Hexenol, more than any other ingredient, drives the impression of freshness in strawberry flavors. Levels of use vary very widely indeed but the optimum level, in my opinion, is in the region of 5,000 ppm.

Raspberry: The same very wide variation is levels of addition is also equally true of raspberry flavors but the ideal level is a little lower, around 3,000 ppm.

Blackcurrant: Many blackcurrant flavors are heavily dependent on an overly dominant catty character and do not really need much in the way of green notes. Realistic flavors are different and are well served by the addition of 3,000 ppm of cis-3-hexenol.

Blackberry: In many respects, blackberry flavors bear a remarkable resemblance to raspberry flavors, with the single addition of a subtle element of musk. However, the musk character is inevitably associated with ripeness and does serve to reduce the optimum level of addition of cis-3-hexenol to nearer 1,000 ppm.

Blueberry: 1,000 ppm is also a very effective level of addition of this ingredient in blueberry flavors, offsetting the floral character and enhancing freshness.

Cranberry: Once again, 1,000 ppm of cis-3-hexenol adds a pleasant level of freshness to cranberry flavors, providing a welcome contrast with the underlying cheese notes.

Orchard Fruit Flavors

Peach: Levels of cis-3-hexenol in peach flavors vary but, in general, the profile of most peach flavors tends towards freshness and 5,000 ppm is a good level.

Apple: Very high levels of this ingredient would be logical to expect in apple flavors but most apple flavors, even green apple flavors, are better served by more moderate additions, in the region of 3,000 ppm.

Apricot: Apricot flavors tend to be a little riper in profile than most peach flavors and the ideal level of this ingredient is around 3,000 ppm.

Cherry: The same comments about authenticity that have been made in respect of blackcurrant flavors also apply to cherry flavors. Realistic cherry flavors perform well with around 2,000 ppm of cis-3-hexenol.

Pear: A level of 2,000 ppm of cis-3-hexenol is a very effective addition to pear flavors, adding attractive freshness without spilling over into an unattractively raw profile.

Tropical Fruit Flavors

Guava: A level of 5,000 ppm of cis-3-hexenol gives a welcome contrast to the softer notes that can be very evident in typical guava flavors.

Mango: The same logic of counterbalancing heavy, sweet notes also applies to mango flavors, but the best level of addition is around 2,000 ppm.

Kiwi: Kiwi flavors tend to be quite light and it is not a good idea to make them overly green because they can taste thin and raw. A level of 2,000 ppm is a good addition.

Pineapple: Pineapple flavors range over a wide range of profiles from canned to fresh and obviously this ingredient can be used at very different levels. A good place to start would be 500 ppm.

Passion Fruit: A level of 500 ppm of cis-3-hexenol is also highly effective in passion fruit flavors, which have some structural similarities to pineapple flavors.

Melon and Watermelon: The same 500 ppm level is also useful in all the different styles of melon flavors, even those watermelon flavors that are really predominantly tutti-frutti in character.

Banana: Once more, 500 ppm is an effective level of addition of this ingredient in banana flavors, adding complexity and freshness.

Citrus Flavors

Grapefruit: Out of all the gamut of citrus flavors, grapefruit is the profile that can accommodate far and away the highest levels of cis-3-hexenol. A level of 300 ppm is useful but even higher levels can work in very peely flavors.

Orange Juice: Only modest levels of cis-3-hexenol can effectively add an element of fresh juice character to orange flavors. A level of 50 ppm is a good starting point.

Lemon: Slightly lower levels are all that is required to be effective in lemon flavors. A level of 20 ppm adds a subtle hint of freshness.

Other Fruit Flavors

Grape: cis-3-Hexenol adds freshness to all the very different styles of grape flavors, from white to Concord, at levels around 1,000 ppm.

Rhubarb: The same level, 1,000 ppm, has a similar effect in rhubarb flavors, forming a very attractive combination with strallyl acetate.

Other Flavors

Basil: Fresh sweet basil leaves are a great top note in a wide range of foods and basil flavors need up to 8,000 ppm of cis-3-hexenol.

Tomato: The best level of cis-3-hexenol ranges from cautiously low in cooked tomato flavors to quite high, around 5,000 ppm, in fresh tomato flavors.

Green Tea: Green tea flavors, unsurprisingly, also have a dominant green note and the best level of this ingredient is in the region of 5,000 ppm.

Black Tea: Despite the fact that black tea is a very long way removed from green tea it still manages to accommodate around 2,000 ppm of cis-3-hexenol to good effect.

Chicken: cis-3-Hexenol seems a very unlikely component of chicken flavors but a trace, around 50 ppm, can be very effective, especially in white chicken meat flavors.

Brandy: All fermented flavors can make good use of trace additions of this ingredient, also at around 50 ppm, but this is particularly true of brandy and cognac flavors, lifting the profile.

Vanilla Bean: A hint of fermentation probably also plays a part in the fiendishly complex character of vanilla beans. A level of 50 ppm of cis-3-hexenol adds authenticity and complexity to a challenging flavor category.

Chocolate: Fermentation is also part of the almost equally complex character of cocoa beans and this chemical can be used to good effect at 30 ppm.

Spearmint and Peppermint: On the surface, fresh spearmint and peppermint leaves might seem to have a great deal in common with fresh sweet basil leaves, but commercial mint oils are always fractionated to moderate much of the fresh, raw profile. This leaves 30 ppm as the ideal level of addition of cis-3-hexenol in spearmint and peppermint flavors.

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John Wright

John Wright; johnwrightflavorist@gmail.com

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