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Flavor Creation: Fusion Flavors

By: Eugene Buday, Olivia Noland and Larry Engel, GSB & Associates, Inc.
Posted: December 3, 2008, from the December 2008 issue of P&F magazine.

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2 pages available as a PDF download or printed copies mailed to you

Fusion flavors, or blends, have been around since the cavemen discovered that a cooked, smoky leg of dinosaur had a much better taste than the raw version. Additionally, the ancient Romans and Greeks used the spices and herbs available to make their food taste pleasant.

Today’s marketplace is always looking for something new and exciting to tantalize the palette of the consuming public. To address these needs, the flavor industry is constantly being pursued for new concepts, flavors and taste sensations.

The discovery of superfruits and their nutritional content has given flavor chemists something new to work with. These fruits include mangosteen, acai berry, aronia, lychee, goji and many more. Unfortunately, superfruits are expensive, hard to get, not very tasty, not too stable and difficult to ship from places such as Southeast Asia and South America, where most of them are grown. Because of the difficulties in handling them (with the exception of pomegranate) they are often used in blends or fused with more common fruit juices and flavors. This is where the term “fusion flavors” comes from.

Monks in the 17th century were the first flavor blenders and masters of fusion technology. They made blends using herbs, flowers, seeds, barks, roots, fruits, coffee, tea, peels, sugar, brandy, water, vegetables, and in some cases, wine. These liqueurs and cordials are still consumed today and extremely difficult to duplicate with the essential oils and natural chemicals we use now. Look at, or better yet, sip Benedictine, Chartreuse, Claristine, Curaçao, Drambuie, Grand Marnier, Parfait Amour or Southern Comfort. These are true examples of fusion products.

Reaction products are probably the only scientifically produced fusion flavors. Some people still call them cookbook chemistry, and they are. If you take an amino acid, a sugar, water or oil, some enzymes and other magical secret ingredients, adjust the pH, put in a reactor, heat it to a specific temperature either under vacuum or at room pressure for a specific duration of time, you end up with a flavor completely different from that of the starting materials. We can make meat, chicken, chocolate, malt, etc., in this fashion.

This is only an excerpt of the full article that appeared in P&F Magazine, but you can purchase the full-text version.