Focus on essential oils. Essential oils were once key building blocks in many flavors. They supplied the basis of most natural flavors and were indispensable in many artificial flavors to add necessary depth and characteristics not possible with artificial ingredients. As ingredient suppliers labored to identify the characterizing components of the essential oils, they began to supply these newly identified components in mainly artificial and, finally, in naturally derived versions. Today, now that natural flavors are again in vogue, essential oils are regaining their rightful place on flavorists’ shelves.
I am including some of my favorite natural essential oils and derivatives, as well as those I consider to be the most useful. Flavorists should evaluate essential oils continually in order to maintain a group of flavor ingredients that is acceptable for both quality and cost.
Materials evaluated: Balsam Peru Oil (Robertet), Bitter Almond Oil (Advanced Biotech), Buchu Leaves Oil (Payan Bertrand), Coffee Oil (Artiste Flavor/Essence Inc.), Davana Oil (Plant Lipids of India), Fennel Sweet Oil (International Flavors & Fragrances), Neroli Oil (Robertet), Peppermint Oil Redistilled (I.P. Callison & Sons), Wintergreen Chinese Oil (Citrus & Allied Essences Ltd.)
No outline of essential oils would be complete without some citrus oils. Citrus essential oils are among the most-used essential oils in flavor creation. They fulfill many flavor roles and are utilized in the widest range of finished applications. Orange, lemon, lime, mandarin, grapefruit and tangerine come in as many forms and variations as there are sources for these oils. These citrus essential oils usually are available as a USP (single fold) and then proceed to fivefold and tenfold. They are available in terpeneless versions and now are becoming available in hydrocarbon-free products that increase their utility. Because these oils are subject to natural calamities (e.g., hurricanes cause soaring grapefruit prices), maintaining alternate suppliers is crucial. Alternate supplier lists should combine the talents of instrumental analysis, as well as creative organoleptic input.