Benzyl acetate (FEMA# 2135, CAS# 140-11-4) is another very widely used ester with a somewhat multipurpose character. It is most obviously associated with berry flavors, but just like ethyl lactate last month, it is rarely part of the character recognition of a specific flavor category. It would be very difficult to imagine a jasmine profile without benzyl acetate but within the flavor realm it is much less assertive. The most direct use of benzyl acetate is certainly with berry flavors and it does play an important role in this category of flavors, but the very attractive fruity/berry character of this ester can, surprisingly, sometimes find an even better home in non-berry fruit flavors, such as peach and passion fruit. It can also provide an attractive berry nuance in a wide range of other non-fruit flavor types.
The dose rates given throughout this article are the levels suggested for use in flavors that are intended to be dosed at 0.05% in a ready to drink beverage or in a simple bouillon.
Raspberry: Levels of use of benzyl acetate in raspberry flavors vary considerably and can be as high as 5,000 ppm. I personally prefer somewhat lower levels and find 1,000 ppm to give a more authentic result.
Blackberry: The same variation in levels of use is equally true for blackberry flavors and my preference for more moderate levels, around 1,000 ppm, also holds.
Cherry: Cherry flavors with a heavily dominant benzaldehyde character can benefit from significant additions of benzyl acetate, up to 2,000 ppm, but more subtle and authentic flavors are better served by more moderate additions in the region of 500 ppm.
Strawberry: The ester character in strawberry flavors is normally dominated by ethyl butyrate and other bright aliphatic esters. This can easily result in a lack of substance to the fruity, berry note and a modest addition of this ingredient, up to 500 ppm, can help to correct that.
Cranberry: 500 ppm of benzyl acetate is also effective in cranberry flavors in a very similar way, deepening and adding authenticity to the berry character.
Blueberry: Blueberry and bilberry (wild blueberry) flavors are relatively subtle and the best level of addition of this ingredient is a little lower, around 300 ppm.
Blackcurrant: This flavor category exhibits the same type of variability as cherry flavors. Simplistic, traditional, flavors that rely heavily on buchu oil can benefit from levels of addition of benzyl acetate as high as 2,000 ppm, but more realistic flavors are very different and here levels nearer to 200 ppm function much better.
Other Fruit Flavors
Peach: Benzyl acetate is very helpful in all the many different styles of peach flavors, adding useful depth and fruit character. The ideal level of addition varies but is relatively high, around 4,000 ppm.
Apricot: This chemical plays a very similar role in apricot flavors and is similarly effective in every style of flavor, even including dried apricot flavors, but the best level of use is a little lower, nearer to 2,000 ppm.
Watermelon: 1,000 ppm of this ingredient also fulfils a very similar function in watermelon flavors and, in the same way as in peach and apricot flavors, it has a very harmonious relationship with the family of peachy gamma lactones. Many watermelon flavors veer off in a tutti-frutti direction and higher levels, up to 2,000 ppm can work well in this context.
Passion Fruit: Passion fruit flavors can tend to be dominated by ethyl butyrate and other similar bright esters in much the same way as strawberry flavors; and benzyl acetate can also work well to deepen the flavor at 1,000 ppm.
Pineapple: This is equally true of pineapple flavors because similar esters are involved but the best effect is achieved at slightly lower levels of addition, around 800 ppm.
Banana: Banana flavors can also be easily dominated by aliphatic esters, in this case iso-amyl and related esters. Benzyl acetate adds welcome depth and complexity at around 500 ppm.
Mango: The fruity berry character of benzyl acetate adds complexity and authenticity to all styles of mango flavors. The best level of addition is in the region of 800 ppm.
Grape: All types of grape flavor can benefit substantially from the addition of this ingredient but the effects vary. Concord grape flavors benefit from a degree of tempering of the core anthranilate notes and 500 ppm is a good level in this context. Non-Concord type can also all benefit from the enhanced floral notes obtained by using this chemical in conjunction with linalool at around 200 ppm.
Jasmine: This, more than any other profile in nature, is where benzyl acetate is truly indispensable. A jasmine flavor without this ingredient would be unthinkable. The ideal level of addition in jasmine flavors is around 5,000 ppm.
Brown Sugar and Molasses: Both these sugar related profiles have a distinct fruity component but it is normally perceived as more closely related to rum than berries. Benzyl acetate is actually very effective at deepening and improving the fruity note without changing this overall impression at levels of addition around 500 ppm.
Vanilla Bean: The quest to create a realistic vanilla bean flavor is predominantly the search for a great many effective minor ingredients that will function in combination rather than a single magic bullet. Benzyl acetate can help with the fruity note of vanilla bean extract at around 150 ppm.
Chocolate: Similarly, the effect in chocolate flavors is shading rather than anything dramatic but it works surprisingly well in all the different styles of chocolate flavors at around 100 ppm.
Hazelnut: A little of this chemical can be interesting in all nut flavors but it is especially useful in hazelnut flavors. It can add depth and complexity at levels around 100 ppm.
Walnut: The fruity berry note of benzyl acetate also works well to give a subtle fruity note to walnut flavors. The best level of addition is 50 ppm.
Roast Beef: The idea of adding benzyl acetate to roast beef flavors, or any other meat flavor, may seem a little deluded but it is actually surprisingly effective. Levels of addition around 50 ppm have the effect of adding a realistic and fleshy character.