Flavors are key to our enjoyment of food and beverages, whether naturally occurring or added as ingredients. Flavor ingredients take many forms including liquids, solids and gases. We commonly think of flavors as tasted by the tongue, but most of what we sense as flavor is actually aroma, a stimulation of our olfactory receptors in the nasal cavity. The taste buds on the tongue play a role in sensing sweet, sour, salt and bitter sensations, but flavors and aromas are much more complex. Color, temperature and texture also play roles in flavor perception.
Natural flavors are those that occur naturally in foods or are produced during normal food preparation processes such as cooking. Artificial flavors are flavoring substances extracted from natural sources or created in the laboratory, and added to enhance flavor. They may be "nature identical" or completely original.
Most flavor ingredients used by the food industry are either dry powders or liquids of various descriptions. The liquids include concentrates, extracts and essences. Concentrates typically have water removed by filtration or evaporation, leaving a more viscous "concentrated" juice. Extract implies a purification of a desirable component of the juice, by removing some material such as sugars, starch, and fiber. Essences are the volatile aromas that may evaporate during juice concentration, but can be captured and added back to enhance the flavor profile.
Flavor ingredients can be water soluble, but are often oils that don't mix with water and have to be emulsified as a stable suspension in water or dissolved in an organic solvent like alcohol or propylene glycol. Flavor oil in water emulsions are very common in liquid flavor products as well as a necessary step in spray-dried powders.
Producing a stable emulsion is not easy. Variables include the density of the material, the desired size of the oil droplet and the stabilizing system. The oil phase must be mixed with the immiscible water phase using high shear to form the correct droplet diameter. The density may need to be adjusted using other ingredients and a gum may be added to stabilize the droplets by coating them and increasing the water phase viscosity. Poor quality emulsions break down forming neck rings, sediment and creaming in finished food products.
Admix provides solutions to these mixing challenges. Our high shear Rotosolver top entry mixers are widely used to disperse mixtures for direct application or prior to homogenization for spray drying. The Admix VacuShear system can make batches quickly with no foam and minimum dissolved air to prevent oxidation of flavor oils. The Fastfeed system can introduce and disperse powders or flavor oil inline.
Our application engineers are happy to recommend a creative solution for your mixing challenge. Get a free customized quote today.