“Most flavors can be created with 20 or less ingredients. There are some nut flavors that I’ve worked on in my past that have upwards of 70 ingredients in them just to get the right body.”
What does it take to recreate the perfect banana flavor? Stay tuned. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Candy flavorist Joan Harvey has selected a handful of chemical compounds to create a ripe yellow banana flavor. Once she chooses her palate of flavor ingredients, Joan writes up formulas and then tests them.
“We’ll now measure each one of these compounds into the formula as I’ve written the formulation there.”
Joan uses small plastic droppers called pipettes to distribute just the right quantities of liquid flavoring into a test tube.
“Okay, so now we’ve completed the formula. The most important thing is, is to get everything to be homogeneous in solution. So I’m gonna cap it and then just shake it a little bit”
And since smell is so much a part of any flavor experience, Joan Harvey assesses her formulas by dipping a paper blotter into the liquid and evaluating the aroma. And much like a single instrument contributes to an orchestra, individual flavor notes add up to comprise a complete flavor.
“I can smell the isoanyl acetate which is the characterizing banana note, and I can also smell vanillin note, so I’m getting the sweetness. And it smells like a banana. This one is probably a little too green, so I would go through the whole exercise of reducing the green note and recompounding the flavor.”
Joan Harvey is a participant in the Kids’ Science Challenge, and if you know of a 3rd to 6th grader with an interest in flavor science, have them check out kidsciencechallenge.com.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.