gamma-Octalactone (FEMA# 2796, CAS# 104-50-7) has a very attractive, soft, creamy coconut character and was featured in the November Flavorcon meeting.
Using it in coconut flavors might seem counterintuitive because delta-octalactone, not gamma-octalactone, is the driving force behind coconut aroma in nature. That raises the question—should we really limit ourselves to copying nature? The choice boils down to an entertaining, win-win contest between authenticity and creativity. In any case, even if gamma-octalactone does not feature in coconuts, a quick glance at the VCF online database shows that it is very widely found in nature.
Note that the dose rates given throughout this article are the levels suggested for use in flavors intended to be dosed at 0.05% in ready-to-drink beverages or in a simple bouillon.
Bacon: gamma-Octalactone adds a soft coconut note that can enhance all meat flavors. Fifty ppm is an initial level in bacon flavors.
Beef, Roast: Rather more, around 100 ppm, is better in beef flavors, enhancing the effect of grilled fat.
Chicken: The best level in chicken flavors varies. Fifty ppm is reasonable, but double that level is better in fried chicken flavors.
Grill: Here is where this ingredient really comes into its own. Now 300 ppm is just a starting point.
Ham: gamma-Octalactone is only a nice finishing touch in ham flavors, but 20 ppm definitely enhances the profile.
Lamb: Lamb has a pronounced fat character and the ideal level of this ingredient, 100 ppm, reflects this.
Mushrooms, Onions and Potatoes: All cooked vegetables benefit from a trace of gamma-octalactone. Levels range from 5 ppm to 15 ppm.
Seafood, Shrimp: gamma-Octalactone enhances all seafood flavors at levels of addition in the region of 50 ppm.
Berry Fruit Flavors
Blackberry: gamma-Octalactone is not the dominant lactone in blackberries, but it rounds out the profile nicely at 80 ppm.
Blackcurrant: Blackcurrant flavors also use this ingredient, but at a lower level around 50 ppm.
Blueberry: Blueberry flavors have an even more subtle lactone note, 20 ppm of gamma-octalactone softens the profile.
Cranberry: The same 20 ppm of gamma-octalactone is equally effective in cranberry flavors.
Raspberry: gamma-Octalactone is very effective when used in combination with delta-octalactone. The balance between the two lactones can be varied but 100 ppm of gamma-octalactone is a good starting point.
Strawberry: In strawberry flavors, this lactone is the junior partner to gamma decalactone, but 100 ppm also works.
Coconut: gamma-Octalactone can be very attractive as the main lactone in coconut flavors. Five thousand ppm is an effective level.
Guava: gamma-Octalactone softens the impact of gamma-decalactone in guava flavors. Levels can vary widely, but 50 ppm is a good starting point.
Jackfruit: Jackfruit flavors can be quite aggressive. One hundred ppm of gamma-Octalactone balances the profile.
Mango: gamma-Octalactone provides a very nice counterpoint to the rather harsh skin character of diphenyl oxide, 1,000 ppm is a good starting point.
Papaya: The ideal level of gamma-octalactone ranges from 10 ppm to 50 ppm.
Passionfruit: Passionfruit flavors can benefit from the creamy softness of this raw material at 100 ppm.
Pineapple: Exactly the same comments and levels also apply to all styles of pineapple flavors.
Orchard Fruit Flavors
Apricot: The attractive partnership between gamma-decalactone and gamma-octalactone reaches its peak in peach and apricot flavors. The level of gamma-octalactone can be varied between 50 ppm and 200 ppm in apricot flavors, depending on the effect desired.
Nectarine: Levels can also vary in nectarine flavors, but 200 ppm is also generally effective in this category.
Peach: It is possible to push things a little further in peach flavors. gamma-octalactone can be used up to 500 ppm.
Plum: Plum flavors encompass a number of different styles. This ingredient will work in all of them but the levels will vary. Twenty ppm is a good starting point.
Alcoholic Drink Flavors
Brandy: The attraction of gamma-octalactone in the spirit flavors is more a question of cost than character. One hundred ppm adds a good impression of cask aging.
Rum, Dark: Two hundred ppm of gamma-octalactone rounds out the character of dark rum flavors.
Tequila: gamma-Octalactone, added at 10 ppm, gives a modest impression of age to tequila flavors.
Whiskey: This is particularly true for whiskey flavors and a relatively high level, up to 500 ppm is an economical alternative to whiskey lactone.
Wine: Modest levels of gamma-octalactone, around 10 ppm, give an impression of cask age to both red and white wine flavors.
Butter, Fresh: The lactone enhances and softens the character of the dominant delta lactones in all dairy flavors. Two hundred ppm works well in butter flavors
Cereal: Five hundred ppm is very effective in cereal flavors. Lower levels can also be useful in pizza dough and bread flavors.
Chocolate, Milk: gamma-Octalactone enhances the creamy character of milk chocolate flavors at 200 ppm.
Cream, Fresh: Cream flavors are another example of this lactone working very well in conjunction with delta decalactone. Four hundred ppm is a good level of addition.
Hazelnut and Praline: This ingredient rounds out all nut flavors but is particularly effective in hazelnut flavors. Eighty ppm is a good starting point. This translates to 30 ppm and up in praline flavors.
Milk: gamma-Octalactone is very effective in both fresh and condensed milk flavors. The levels vary a little but should typically be in the order of 50 ppm to 100 ppm.
Peppermint: Cheap mint oils can be improved by the addition of as little as 10 ppm of gamma-octalactone, pushing the profile away from corn mint and towards peppermint.
Popcorn: Popcorn flavors are enhanced by the extra depth and sweetness of gamma-octalactone at levels of addition in the region of 200 ppm.
Raisin: gamma-Octalactone adds sweet depth and creaminess to the dried notes of raisin flavors at around 50 ppm.
Vanilla: The creamy character of this lactone is especially well suited to French-style vanilla flavors. Two hundred ppm is a good level of addition. It also works in Bourbon bean-style flavors, but the level of addition is much lower, around 10 ppm.
Walnut: After hazelnut, walnut is the nut flavor category where this ingredient works best. Twenty ppm is a reasonable starting level, counteracting the drier aspects of the profile.