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Sat Aug 30, 2014, 12:27 PM

The secrets of fake flavours (BBC)


By Chris Baraniuk

Artificial flavours are more complex and interesting than first appears. Chris Baraniuk discovers a world of sensory trickery – and a curious myth about fake banana.

Banana flavouring. You know it well. If you close your eyes for a moment and think back to those countless pieces of confectionary or flavoured puddings, that recognisably artificial banana-like note will probably come back to you. Monotone, saccharine, and quite removed from the real, fresh bananas you eat as a snack or with lunch.

Artificial flavours like these are often criticised as unnatural. However, some artificial flavourings are significantly closer to ‘natural’ than it might appear. The reason they sometimes fail to taste like their fresh counterparts can be more complex than simple chemistry– which is why flavour wizards and foodmakers are employing clever new techniques to trick our senses.

So, why doesn’t banana flavour taste like banana? The answer is complicated – and it begins with a legend. There’s a story that the archetypal banana flavouring has very authentic origins; that artificial banana flavourings were developed from an old variety of banana called the Gros Michel. The Gros Michel, or “Big Mike” as it was affectionately known, was once prevalent in Western supermarkets.

That was until a ruthless fungus called Fusarium oxysporum, or “Panama disease”, all but wiped out the Gros Michel during the 20th Century. To keep consumers’ love of bananas satiated, producers cultivated a banana strain known as the Cavendish, which was resistant to Panama disease but which had a somewhat different flavour. The story goes that more pungent Gros Michel-derived flavourings persisted, which accounts for the dichotomy between banana flavourings and the commonly eaten fruit.
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more: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140829-the-secrets-of-fake-flavours

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Reply The secrets of fake flavours (BBC) (Original post)
eppur_se_muova Aug 2014 OP
NV Whino Aug 2014 #1

Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Sat Aug 30, 2014, 02:37 PM

1. Interesting article

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