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Tech talk: Sensient’s extraction expertise

By Alan Gundle

It would be easy — and wrong — to think that extracts can only be generated by distilling down the original item, much in the same way a chef creates a concentrated, intense flavor by slowly heating a sauce to reduce it in volume. Low-temperature heat processing is, indeed, the chief way that Sensient creates intense, authentic flavor profiles, but within that extraction method Sensient has crafted unique technology that provides industry-leading flexibility to meet client flavor delivery needs.

Every extract is different, and Sensient’s processes deliver intense, authentic flavor profiles, even for the most delicate of profiles. That means every botanical material is studied closely to learn what extraction technology will suit it best. For instance, are the botanical components most soluble in water or oil? And at what temperature will they become volatile and evaporate away? Even more importantly, what food or beverage will the extract be a part of?

Such study allows the Sensient team to deploy differing technologies to achieve the maximum result. Below we’ve outlined just three, among many, of the specific types of technologies Sensient uses for extraction:

  • Liquid Carbon Dioxide Extraction. Using this gas at low temperature and high pressure is a very effective way to extract botanicals under certain conditions. For instance, it can be used with ginger to extract gingerols (for authentic taste) and shogaols (for a heat kick) to deliver a highly concentrated taste that packs a punch.
  • Traditional Percolation. Delicate botanicals, such as chrysanthemum flower petals, provide a light, floral taste to many foods and beverages throughout Asia and increasingly in the west. A traditional percolation process removes the spent petals by filtration to recover a rich, dark and hay-flavored extract.
  • Molecular Distillation. This process can be used with fruits and spices to capture volatile flavor components, much in the way spirits are distilled, as the distillate passes through a cooling column. The result is an extract that amplifies flavor and creates new taste opportunities.

Crafting a versatile extract that delivers remarkable flavor and tonality is the goal of every Sensient extraction process. We are always working to improve our existing flavor technology, as well as craft new methods, to improve and enhance flavor extraction.