*Upali Mohapatra

Flavours play an important and indispensable role in modern food. Flavour is the sensation produced by a material taken in the mouth. Flavour of the food can be altered with natural or artificial flavouring which affect these senses. Flavour is the combination of taste, olfactory and oral texture inputs can be highly influenced by the sight of food and by cognitive descriptions and attention. Products not intended to be consumed which are added to food in order to impart or modify odor and taste are called Flavourings.

Flavourant is defined as a substance that gives another substance taste altering the characteristics of the solute causing it to become sweet, sour, tangy etc. Food ordours can be enhanced or easily altered by changing its smell while keeping similar taste. Flavours may be natural and artificial too. Natural flavour in contrast may contain impurities from their sources while artificial flavours are typically purer and are required to undergo more testing before being sold for consumption.

Food flavours are mainly classified into three major categories:

  • Natural Flavours: Natural flavours include herbs, spices, aromatic seeds, fruits, vegetables.
  • Processed Flavours: These include caramelized, roasted, fermented, toasted, baked.
  • Added Flavour: These are further categorized into
    • Natural extracted flavour which includes essential oil, essence, extracts.
    • Synthetic flavour which includes fruit flavour, savory flavour

Principal types of flavourings used in food:

  • Natural flavouring substances: These are obtained from plant or animal raw materials by physical, microbiological or enzymatic processes.
  • Nature identical flavouring substances: These are obtained by synthesis or isolation through chemical processes which are chemically and organoleptically identical to flavouring substances.
Mint Menthol
Thyme Thymol
Cloves Eugenol
Pepper Piperidine
Butter Diacetal
Orange Limonene
Lemon Citral
Garlic Diallyl disulphide
Turmeric Curcumin
Roasted nut Allylpyrazine
Popcorn Acetyl-L-Pyrazines
Fruity, green Aldehydes
Fruity Esters
Medicinal, smokey Phenolics
Citrus, piney Terpenoids
  • Artificial flavouring substances: These are typically produced by fractional distillation and additional chemical manipulation of naturally sourced. They characterized the same as natural ones.

Flavour Enhancer: They are chemicals which by themselves have little or no odor or taste. They are capable of enhancing, modifying or intensifying the original flavour. Some chemicals used for flavour enhancer includes:

  • Monosodium glutamate: Used as flavour intensifiers in soups, sauces, taste maker and flavourings
  • Nucleotides: These are 100 to 500 times stronger than MSG. Used in processed foods such as potato chips, peanuts, dry and canned soups, sauces, ketchups etc.
  • Maltol: Used as flavour enhancer for sweet flavours. Found in several plants and is formed when cocoa, coffee and malt are roasted.

Functional Uses Of Flavour:

Simulate Metabolic response Nostalgia
Extend Intestinal absorption Belief, cognitive factors
Flavour the unflavoured Appetite and consumption Trend
Modify Flavour the flavoured
Compensate for flavour losses
Improve shelf life

Flavour In Different Foods:

  • Tannin: Found in particularly tea leaves, red grape skins and the bark trees.
  • Tannic acid: Used as flavouring and as a clarifying agent in beer, wine, cider, other brewed drinks.
  • Caffeine: Contains alkaloids, volatile aromatic products.
  • Capsaicin: Found in chilies and is responsible for their fiery flavour.
  • Sin grin: Present in raw cabbage which in the presence of heat is converted to isothiocyanate.

Forms Of Flavour:

Liquid Water, alcohol, or oil soluble alcohol, propylene glycol, triacetin, benzyl alcohol, glycerin, syrup, water, vegetable oil
Powder Spray dried, absorbates, or powder mixes Gum acacia, starch, hydrolysates, selective hydrocolloids, simple carbohydrates
Pastes and Emulsions Emulsion of the oil in water type Same as used for liquid and powder

Fruity Flavours:

Fruity flavour is mainly due to chemical compound Ethyl propionate. Fruit flavour is a combination of aroma and taste sensations. Conjugation of sugars, acids, phenolics and hundreds of volatile compounds contribute to the fruit flavour. These include citrus type flavours and berry type flavours. These include grapefruit, orange, apple, banana etc. Here I would like to provide an example of fruit flavoured infused water available in the market are of great demand as they provide various health benefits:

  • It contains no calories.
  • It helps to flush toxins and aids in digestion
  • It lowers the risk of certain diseases.
  • It helps in increasing metabolism.
  • It adds nutrients to diet that helps in strengthening the immune system.
  • Flavour twists motivate people to drink more water.

Floral flavours:

Floral flavours are compatible with a broader trend towards lighter drinks, they offer a delicate flavour profiles and giving both consumers and bartenders the mean to create light and elegant drinks. There are certain florals that not only contribute to flavour and aroma but color too. Floral components offer a new and interesting spectrum of flavours and aroma for broad range of drinks. In 2018 whole foods declared floral flavours as one of the top trends. Food and beverages industry that is bringing the floral flavours from the gardens to plates, cups and glasses. Numerous studies have been conducted which have proved that edible flowers can be a healthier alternative to sugar. Edible florals are not only limited to food floral, ice cubes is another great way to add color to drinks. Some edible flowers that not only tastes good but also adds improve health.

P,ansy (violet) Helps in treating cough, headache, purify blood, calming pain.
Chamomile Helps in relief from bloating, stomach infirmities and insomnia.
Rose Curing indigestion, arthritis, fevers, urinary issues, constipation
Clover flowers Used for curing cough and cold, natural blood purifier.
Saffron Antioxidant, antidepressant, and antiseptic.
Tree Peony Helpful for diabetes or high cholesterol, prevents blood clotting, lessen the risk of heart disease, certain cancers.
Japanese Honey suckle Helps in issues like flu, depression, blood impurities, tick bites, prevention properties for cancer.
Marigold (Calendula) Known to heal skin and lessen inflammation, helping wounds, cuts, ulcers and eczema.
Nasturtium Good source of vitamin C and other nutrients, boosts immune system and helps in fighting against flu cough and cold.
Bee Balm Used as an alternative medicine as an antiseptic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stimulant.
Lavender Helps in managing anxiety and depression.
Jasmine As a sedative, an antiseptic, anti-depressant, used as aphrodisiac which means increases immunity and fight fever, treating urinary infections, treating corns, treating headaches
Hibiscus Helps in lowering blood pressure.


Consumer acceptance is the sole basis for acceptability of any product in the market. A natural product when sold as such retains its characteristics flavour and other sensorial attributes. Due to limitation of shelf life, processing of food has become indispensable. Despite minimal processing for extension of shelf life a loss or change in flavour of food is observed which has helped in establishing flavour as an important additive in food products and help in widening of the flavour industry. The demand for flavours is bound to increase in future with development of many functional foods.

 *M.Tech in Food Engineering & Technology & B.E in Food Technology