January’s column featured an ingredient that has an extraordinarily specific character and might, at first sight, seem entirely restricted to use in strawberry flavors; i.e., oct-2-en-4-one. This month, in a similar vein, is focused on another ingredient having an equally specific character: γ-Decalactone. γ-Decalactone (FEMA# 2360, CAS# 706-14-9) is instantly recognizable as characteristic of peach, and clearly is the most important character recognition driver for this flavor profile.
Quite a number of related lactones have a broadly similar peach character but the three that are most commercially important are γ-decalactone, γ-undecalactone (FEMA# 3091, CAS# 104-67-6) and γ-dodecalactone (FEMA# 2400, CAS# 2305-05-7). The balance shifts noticeably from aroma to taste with ascending molecular weight but, in my opinion, γ-decalactone is the most effective of the three in most applications. In some cases, it may be beneficial to use this material in conjunction with γ-dodecalactone to gain an extra taste dimension. However, unlike the closely equivalent cases of C10 and C12 d-lactones in dairy flavors, the addition of γ-dodecalactone need not be large in order to gain a realistic taste effect.
The dose rates given throughout this article are suggested for use in flavors intended to be dosed at 0.05% in a ready-to-drink beverage or simple bouillon.
Stone Fruit Flavors
Peach: γ-Decalactone forms the natural backbone of all good peach flavors and 2,500 ppm is a good starting level. The addition of a small quantity of γ-dodecalactone adds extra taste effect but really is not essential. It is more important to soften the powerful effect of γ-decalactone with a significant addition of γ-decalactone (FEMA# 2361, CAS# 705-86-2), and the combination of these two lactones gives an authentic effect.
Plum: γ-Decalactone is also vital in plum flavors, and at a use level, again, of 2,500 ppm. However, its combination with γ-decalactone is not especially helpful in plum flavors.
Apricot: Apricot flavors are similar to peach in many respects but the ideal level of addition for γ-decalactone in apricot is a little lower, around 1,500 ppm. γ-Decalactone also can play a useful role in apricot flavors but again, at a lower level.
Prune: Much lower levels of γ-decalactone are useful in prune flavors. The ideal level depends on the profile of the flavor but 200 ppm is a reasonable place to start.
Cherry: This ingredient is hardly essential in cherry flavors, especially those dominated by tutti-frutti notes and benzaldehyde. Nevertheless, it can add a very subtle element of juiciness and authenticity at a trace level of around 5 ppm.
Strawberry: γ-Decalactone is as essential a component in strawberry flavors as it is in peach and apricot flavors, and is similarly a key part of the recognition skeleton. Levels vary depending on the profile required but 2,000 ppm is ideal.
Raspberry: Although this lactone is not an essential component of raspberry flavors, it adds depth and juicy character at levels of around 800 ppm.
Blackberry: γ-Decalactone is even more useful in blackberry flavors, filling out a profile that can easily tend to be too light and fragrant; here, 800 ppm is also a good initial level.
Blueberry: Blueberry flavors also can be too light and fragrant, and therefore benefit from modest additions of γ-decalactone at around 500 ppm.
Blackcurrant: Lower levels of addition, nearer 200 ppm, can play a useful part in rounding and fleshing out blackcurrant flavors, adding juiciness.
Cranberry: 200 ppm is also a good starting point for cranberry flavors, giving a significantly more attractive, complex and juicy character.
Tropical Fruit Flavors
Mango: γ-Decalactone is also part of the recognition skeleton for mango flavors and gives an enhanced fleshy and juicy character at levels in the region of 1,500 ppm.
Guava: Here again, this ingredient is part of the recognition skeleton for guava, with its creamy peach character offsetting the balsamic cinnamate notes, ideally at around 1,000 ppm.
Passion fruit: The same is true of passion fruit flavors, where γ-decalactone contributes to the character recognition skeleton, adding juiciness at slightly lower levels in the region of 800 ppm.
Pineapple: 800 ppm also works well in all the different styles of pineapple flavors, adding depth and juice character.
Watermelon: Most watermelon flavors bear only a passing resemblance to real watermelons but nevertheless, γ-decalactone is often key to adding depth and juice notes to typical commercial flavors. Levels vary radically with different profiles but 500 ppm is generally helpful.
Papaya: Lower levels of around 200 ppm γ-decalactone work best in papaya flavors, enhancing the juicy and fleshy notes.
Milk, butter, cheese and cream: Dairy flavors dramatically reverse the balance between γ- and δ-lactones. As δ-decalactone adds authenticity to the dominant γ-decalactone in peach flavors, a modest level of δ-decalactone, around 200 ppm, adds authenticity and focus to the dominant d-lactones in all dairy flavors.
Chocolate: In the same way, the dairy note in chocolate flavors can be improved by the addition of this lactone. The level of addition depends on the character of the flavor, with 50 ppm working well in dark chocolate flavors and 200 ppm working best in milk chocolate flavors.
Caramel: The best level of use in caramel flavors also depends on the style of flavor desired but 100 ppm is a reasonable starting point.
Chicken: Small additions of this lactone help to round out the fat notes in all styles of chicken flavors, playing a secondary role to γ-decalactone and helping to tame the unsaturated aldehydes at levels of addition around 100 ppm.
Roast beef: δ-Decalactone performs a very similar function in both roast and barbecued beef flavors but the best level of addition is a little lower, near 50 ppm.
Hazelnut and walnut: Modest additions, around 40 ppm, of this ingredient to all nut flavors—but especially to hazelnut and walnut flavors—can round out the profile nicely.
Vanilla: Finally, just a trace of δ-decalactone, as little as 5 ppm, is all that is required to add a subtle extra depth to vanilla bean flavors.