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A Guide to Citrus Essential Oils in the Flavor & Fragrance Industry

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In this exclusive interview, sponsored by Prinova, Perfumer & Flavorist [P&F] sat down with Agrumaria Reggina’s Felice Chirico, sales & marketing manager and Cristina Giulia, product division manager, who provided their insights on purchasing and manufacturing with quality citrus essential oils. 

P&F: What factors can impact the quality of an essential oil? 

 

Giulia: Many factors affect the quality of an essential oil throughout its life and are strictly dependent on:

a)       Growing conditions (variability of microclimate, rainfall, soil exposure, distance between plants and nearby crops)

b)      Fruit picking, time interval between picking and transformation, ripening status, selection and waste of the fruit suitable

c)       Method of extraction

d)      Storage condition

P&F: What qualities should you look for when purchasing essential oils?

Giulia: The most important qualities of an essential oil are perfume and flavor, but at the same time its naturality and all its physical-chemical characteristic (index of refraction, relative density and optical rotation) that are directly derived from its composition play a key role in defining the quality of the oil and therefore of the final application (fragrance, flavor, etc.).

P&F: What are the benefits of using essential oils in manufacturing?

 

Chirico: When it comes to aromatic ingredients, essential oils represent the closest product to the fruit - in fact, they come exclusively from the processed fruits. Using an oil for the development of a flavor or fragrance is the best choice to guarantee a true-to-fruit experience which results in an authentic, pure, and natural taste or smell that evokes the true flavor of the fruit. 

On the consumer side, the benefits of using oil-based products are different: they improve the atmosphere if used in the diffusers, they give a refreshing taste in a drink beverage, they promote better digestion, and much more.

P&F: Can you explain the difference between pure/natural/blended essential oils? Why would a company choose one over the other? 

 

Giulia: There two categories of natural product obtained from essential oil:

a)       PURE&NATURAL: that means the essential oils obtained from the plant, without any adulteration or addition. It can be distilled to obtain a furocoumarin-free oil or concentrated to augment its solubility. This type of product is known as FTNF – From the Named Fruit. It is a very variable product because it is strictly dependent on seasonality.

b)      NATURAL: It is an essential oil blended with other natural substances; it is known as WONF – With Other Natural Flavour. It is “standardized product”.

The choice of which product to buy depends on the objective. If you want to use an oil that respects the seasonality and all the variables described in the first question, you must choose a 100% Pure and Natural. If instead you want to standardize your recipe with a product that keeps the chemical-physical and olfactory characteristics unchanged in the long term, you are looking for a 100% Natural.

P&F: What makes your essential oils special?

Chirico: Our essential oils come directly from freshly processed fruit without further additions. Furthermore, our presence among the citrus groves in Sicily and Calabria allows us to use only the best citrus fruits.       

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