Flavor Bites: cis-3-Hexenoic Acid

Even the most popular raw materials are likely to emit a repulsive odor if smelled in their undiluted form, and cis-3-hexenoic acid (FEMA# 4493), with its unattractive miasma of stale sweat, is no exception. Intuitively, this raw material shows no visible flavor connections; the most natural reaction by flavorists, thus, would be to keep this ingredient out of sight and out of mind.

Although cis-3-Hexenoic acid has no real antecedents, flavorists have been exploring the potential of similar simple aliphatic acids, such as butyric acid (FEMA# 2221) and hexanoic acid (FEMA# 2559), for many years. As such, these ingredients were being used in dairy flavors and even in nondairy flavors, especially strawberry, where upon dilution the cheesy note possesses a useful, but barely detectable secondary character, and adds a little depth and realism to the flavor. However, a subtle cheesy note is one thing, the rank odor of old and uncared for undergarments, another. Nevertheless, as cis-3-Hexenoic acid has been widely found in nature (including fruits) it was clearly worth a few experiments. And to one’s surprise, it exhibited a much stronger influence and helped create a fresher, more natural-tasting effect, than that produced by butyric or hexanoic acid.

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