Organoleptic Characteristics of Flavor Materials: Mint June 2005

Contact Author Gerard Mosciano
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Gerard Mosciano is joined by Judith Michalski, senior creative flavorist, Edlong Flavors; Carl Holmgren, chief creative flavorist, director of flavor development, Brooklyn by Perfetti Ltd.; and Douglas Young, principle flavorist, Symrise, in the organoleptic evaluations presented here. The article includes the history, composition, applications and organoleptic properties of mint/mint products.

Mint plants are very easily grown herbaceous perennials. In fact, to call this plant invasive would be a major understatement. This should not be a surprise to anyone who has ever planted a small pot of peppermint for garnishing tall iced juleps or summertime ice teas, only to find their next years garden infested with an uncontrollable invasive pest whose roots system could be a suitable topic for a Stephen King novel or an episode of the Twilight Zone.

While peppermint’s invasive nature is a home gardener’s bane, it is a thing of beauty for the commercial mint grower. Mint has been grown commercially, initially in England, since the 1750s. Today, the United States supplies about 75 percent of the world’s output of peppermint oil. The plant is an important commercial crop in Indiana, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The essential oil represents about 0.3-0.4 percent of the weight of the fresh leaves and is separated from the leaves by rapid, in-fi eld, steam distillation. The oil produced has had a long history as an herbal remedy with medicinal properties, and has been long associated with cleanliness, hygiene and (primarily) freshness. Peppermint oil has shown antibacterial and antiviral activity, and today is considered among the growing constellation of nutraceutical products. The material is more popular than ever: a recent Google search for peppermint yielded 32,000 results!