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A Tale of Four Demos: The Process Flavorist’s Evolving Toolbox

By Douglas Young; reported by Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor
Posted: December 14, 2009

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In addition to the above, the formula also contained beef fat for speciation. To “hold the whole thing together,” Young included polysorbate 80. Meanwhile, he employed sodium hydroxide to balance pH and maltodextrin as a bulking agent. The latter, he explained, usually comes from corn, which can be a GMO issue.

Demo 2: Replacing Key Materials

Young’s second formula substituted HVP for yeast extract (adding salt for balance) and swapped polysorbate 80 for GMO-free corn starch. The formulation, he said, would be slightly more expensive than the first version; in addition, depending upon what material the yeast was grown on (such as corn syrup), there could be lingering GMO questions.

Demo 3: Another HVP-Replacement Scenario

Young’s third demo replaced HVP with beef stock and salt. Another sugar and some amino acids were added to match the HVP and yeast-based formulas. The absence of yeast and HVP of course meant that the umami impression was diminished. In addition, Young explained that the use of animal extracts such as beef are becoming prohibitively expensive. And who can forget the BSE concerns of a few years ago? In addition, Young pointed out that the formula had both kosher and halal issues, in addition to not being vegetarian-friendly.

Demo 4: Non-Protein-Based Product

In this formula, Young compensated for a lack of protein by balancing out the amino acids. While the salt content remained unchanged, more sugars were added. In this demo, Young swapped beef tallow for decanal to maintain speciation; despite this replacement, the absence of animal lipids or beef extracts resulted in a lack of fidelity. In addition, pH dropped considerably due to lack of protein, which would buffer it from reaction. This same lack of protein also means the demo had very little umami effect. Maltodextrin was again used as a bulking agent.

While the four demos illustrated methods for overcoming various formulation obstacles, Young explained that process flavors have yet to meet organic standards. The philosophy of organic, he said, aims to keep the chemical industry—and by extension the flavor industry—out of the food business. Most of the formulation issues come from the lack of availability of amino acids that are well-documented and pass muster for organically certifiable flavors.