Flavor Bites: p-Methoxybenzaldehyde

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p-Methoxybenzaldehyde is the key odor component of the flower of the hawthorn bush, a common hedging plant in the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom is a great country for walkers. Over 140,000 miles of footpaths are maintained under common law. All that is required is that one person walks on each footpath each year. From the late Middle Ages, hawthorn bushes have been a very common way of designating field and path boundaries. There are few aromas more pleasant on a walk than hawthorn bushes flowering in the May sunshine. p-Methoxybenzaldehyde, also known as anisaldehyde or aubepine (FEMA# 2670, CAS# 123-11-5), is the key odor component of that enchanting spring flower. The profile is deep and sweet rather than floral and fragrant. It can be used to good effect in many flavors, especially in the brown and fruit categories.

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.

Brown Flavors

Aniseed: p-Methoxybenzaldehyde, unsurprisingly, is an important component of all aniseed flavors. Levels can vary dramatically, but it is best to start off with caution at, say, 100 ppm.

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Black tea: p-Methoxybenzaldehyde only really works well in black tea flavors and is not nearly so effective in green tea flavors. Two hundred ppm is a good starting point.

Butterscotch: Butterscotch flavors can also use quite widely varying levels of p-methoxybenzaldehyde. A cautious starting point would be 500 ppm, but, personally, I prefer higher levels, 1,000 ppm and up, for what is hardly a subtle flavor category.

Caramel and toffee: Here, the more cautious level of 500 ppm is generally more appropriate, giving a nice lift to the vanillin note.

Chocolate and cocoa: Chocolate and cocoa flavors are both lifted by moderate additions of p-methoxybenzaldehyde, 300 ppm for chocolate flavors and 600 ppm for cocoa flavors.

Coffee: Coffee flavors just need a fairly subtle lift from this ingredient, 100 ppm is a good starting point.

For the full article, please check out Perfumer & Flavorist's October 2020 issue.