Flavor Bites: Methyl Thiobutyrate


Sulfur notes are often used in fruit flavors. They add complexity and realism, and can shift the secondary characteristics of the flavor significantly when used at higher levels. Equally important in the current financial climate is their cost-effectiveness, as even the most exotic and expensive sulfur chemicals can provide more “bang for the buck” than any of the cheap bulk components of a flavor. So, no apologies for selecting—methyl thiobutyrate (FEMA# 3310; CAS# 2432-51-1)—yet another sulfur chemical this month! Widely found in nature, particularly in strawberries, it can be used to good effect in an even wider variety of flavors.

One of the first sulfur chemicals to be widely used in fruit flavors was dimethyl sulfide (FEMA# 2746). At low use levels this chemical enhanced the fruit notes and added authenticity; at higher levels it completely altered the flavor character, giving it a cooked fruit profile, and at highest levels of use dimethyl sulfide added a cooked vegetable note.

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