Using Innovative Computer Software to Perfect Food Aroma and Taste

Formulations

Can you craft the perfect baguette in a lab? Image Source: Flickr User ci_polla

Can you craft the perfect baguette in a lab? Image Source: Flickr User ci_polla

The art of crafting delicious food goes beyond simply making a dish that tastes good. Eating a true masterpiece is a full sensory experience. Think of the most delicious bread you’ve ever eaten. Chances are you don’t just remember the way it tasted, soft and fresh and maybe just a little sweet. You remember the warm weight of it in your hand, the gentle crunch of its lightly browned crust, the savory scent of it filling your nostrils and making your stomach rumble. It’s this unique and complex combination of multiple sensations at once that makes the experience memorable—and keeps restaurant and bakery customers coming back for more.

In recent research, scientists looked at the effect of bread and its crust structure on taste and aroma perception.1 In other words, they performed a series of scientific experiments in pursuit of the perfect baguette—a truly worthy endeavor.

As it turns out, there are a number of chemical events that occur during food consumption that add to the pleasure (or displeasure) of eating something. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are largely responsible for the consumer’s perception of food aroma and taste, and the food structure that houses those VOCs contributes to their perfectly timed release. In order to formulate recipes that take the full experience into account, there’s a wide swath of data to be gathered, sorted, and analyzed—and for that, you need lab software that’s powerful enough to help you get the job done right.

Tasting with Your Other Nose

It is said that you eat with your eyes first, but some would argue that you actually lead with your nose. An enticing smell can steer your hunger in the direction of a particular food well before you’ve taken the first bite. Think of the last time you walked into a movie theater and immediately craved popcorn because of the overwhelming scent of hot butter and freshly popped kernels hovering in the lobby, or walked past your favorite bakery and caught the aroma of buttery pastries just out of the oven and suddenly found yourself drawn towards the entrance. Scent is a potent component of consumer food motivation.

Scent perception, however, doesn’t stop at a mere drive-by cinnamon bun wafting. When food is consumed, chewing releases aromatic compounds from food into the oral cavities leading to retronasal aroma perception. There are two routes that aroma stimuli can follow to get to olfactory epithelium. The obvious one is through the nose. The other is via the mouth during food consumption, which is referred to as retronasal olfaction.

Oddly enough, research indicates that perception via the second route may actually be much more potent than the first, due to the combination of salivation, warming, and chewing.2 This opens a brand new avenue of scent and flavor that can be investigated and tinkered with using modern lab software. With new computer technology, it is becoming more straightforward to modify and refine formulations to create a unique and well-received food product.

The Proof Is in the Pudding (or, in This Case, the Crust)

The recent research, which involved only a few participants and nine baguettes, looked at the relationship between crumb and crust density, water content and elasticity, and perceived flavor. The researchers assessed the VOCs exhaled to determine what was released while the participants chewed the bread.

The initial, pre-chewed VOC content of the bread crumb played an important role, but firmness also came into play. Firmer bread released more VOCs upon consumption, which can be directly attributed to an increase in chewing. Crumb firmness and crust brittleness appeared to play a vital role as well. The researchers believe that the more brittle the crust, the faster the release of VOCs, which directly relates to perceived aroma and flavor.

The Right Software Can Help You Perfect Your Baguette

Using the findings from this paper, it may be possible to tailor your bread dough formulation to fit these parameters using innovative lab software. With experimental tracking capabilities, you can track VOC release in relation to the ingredients in your bread to find that perfect mix. Computer software can model food formulations and allow you to tinker with them, tracking your changes, to ensure that you’re delivering a unique and memorable product that’s both highly competitive and a real treat—in every sense.

BIOVIA’s solution for formulations development is the missing piece to this food development puzzle. This cutting-edge software allows you to retrieve product information and find the information you need to quickly make confident decisions about the formulations you are delivering to the consumer. You can play around with your recipes, tracking as you go along, to craft a perfectly conceived (and perceived) flavor that will keep customers coming back for more. Please contact us today to learn more about how our software options can support you in your endeavors.

  1.  “Effect of Bread Crumb and Crust Structure on the in Vivo Release of Volatiles and the Dynamics of Aroma Perception,” April 10, 2017, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b00287
  2.  “Retronasal Aroma Release and Satiation: a Review,” 10/09/2009, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/jf901445z