nut flavors

Friday, December 30th, 2016 10:40 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
[personal profile] darkoshi
While chomping down on some raw almonds, I hit a bitter one. I gagged on the horrible bitterness, but at the same time marveled at the intense almond flavor, which normal almonds don't have. I spit out the remains into the sink.

I already knew about bitter almonds, sort of, and I knew that apricot kernels were also sometimes used for almond flavor. (I know that persipan is to apricot kernels as marzipan is to almonds.) I remember a small bag of either bitter almonds or apricot kernels that my mom inherited from her mom, back in Germany. It was in her baking supplies. Maybe I tasted one back then, and that's where I learned about them, but I don't remember for sure.

But I didn't realize that basically all almond flavoring is made from bitter almonds and/or apricot kernels (and other sources), and none comes from sweet almonds. That explains why almonds don't taste like almond flavor!

The Case of the Tasty But Poisonous Nut

What to Use When You Can't Get the Real Thing
The most common sources of bitter almond taste, however, are almond extracts, which are distilled to be free of cyanide. "Pure" almond extract should contain natural oil of bitter almond, a colorless fluid, along with water and alcohol. "Natural" extract usually is flavored with benzaldehyde made from cassia, a relative of cinnamon. "Imitation" extract uses synthetic benzaldehyde, which is manufactured from a petrochemical.
a spokeswoman for McCormick, the nation's leading extract manufacturer, said: "The oil of bitter almond in McCormick's pure almond extract is derived from apricot kernels, in accordance with FDA regulations."


So that explains why almonds don't taste as good as almond-flavored things. And why simply blending up some almond milk doesn't give you a particularly almond-flavored beverage.

But it doesn't explain why the same may be said of pistachios and hazelnuts. I wonder where those nut flavorings originally came from, and if they are really found in the regular nuts themselves. (Ok, hazelnuts, when they are roasted start getting some of that nice hazelnut smell, maybe. But pistachios, good as they are, don't taste anything like pistachio flavor does. Well, maybe the problem there is that I've never had unroasted pistachios? Maybe the flavor comes from the raw pistachio nuts?)

Normally the pistachio flavoring sold in stores is artificial. So I checked whether there are any non-artificial ones, and there are a few online. But the reviews are mixed. Some reviews say they taste artificial and not good at all, making me wonder if the real thing really isn't anything like the normal artificial pistachio flavor used in ice creams and pudding.

Why does pistachio ice cream taste nothing like pistachios?
heavyLobster wrote: "Pistachio flavoring is mostly almond extract. Almond extract tastes different from normal almonds because there are actually two different types of almonds. Almond extract comes from bitter almonds, and the ones you eat are sweet almonds.

The chemical that gives almond extract (and pistachio flavoring) its characteristic flavor is benzaldehyde."


But pistachio flavor is different from almond flavor, isn't it?... Or is it just the artificial green color that makes it seem different to the mind???

Date: Saturday, December 31st, 2016 07:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I had no idea about any of this. Things I learned!