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Science Fun:
Extracting Natural Flavors

Ever wondered how they come up with some of the flavors that are added to candies and other foods and snacks? Using the experiment below, you will learn how to extract natural flavors from foods.

One of the simplest methods of extracting natural flavors is by juicing the food. This also gives you the flavor and aroma. But juicing doesnít work for every food, some foods do not have enough natural liquid to make this feasible. By following the method below, youíll be able to extract the flavor from almost any food.

What do people use these natural flavors for? Once scientists have the natural flavor of a food, they can decipher its chemical make up and create artificial flavors that are generally less expensive. Have fun with this experiment!

Equipment that you will need:

a dowel that is six inches long and one inch in diameter (or a similar sized piece of broom stick)
kitchen knife
potato peeler
clean glass jar
tin can
package of cone coffee filter paper (No. 2 size)
metal or heat-resistant plastic funnel (note: top must be large enough to sit on the jar)
medium-sized sauce pan along with its lid
wooden spoon
pot holder
small glass jars, such as baby food jars
masking tape
set of measuring spoons
metal ladle or large metal spoon
graduated measuring cup
drinking glasses

Ideas for Foods to Test:

most fruits
red cabbage
ginger root
vanilla beans
cinnamon sticks
whole cloves
other whole spices
Note: donít use ground spices as they have a much milder taste than whole spices

Preparing the food for the test:

Use the kitchen knife and cut the food into small pieces. Place the small pieces into the can. Then crush the pieces with the dowel until you have a mushy mixture.

Whole spices can be broken up and placed into the can and then crushed.

Extracting the Flavor:

1. Place about two tablespoons of one of the processed and prepared foods in the saucepan

2. Just barely cover with water.

3. Turn on the stove.

4. Heat the solution until the water is boiling, then cover the pan and turn the heat down to a simmer.

5. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat.

6. Holding the handle of the pan with a pot holder, use the ladle or the large metal spoon to scoop out a tablespoon of the hot solution after five minutes.

7. Scoop out another sample after 10 minutes and another after 15 minutes.

8. Filter each of these solutions into a separate, clean drinking glass and label each of the glasses.

9. Let them all cool completely, then taste these solutions one at a time. Do they taste the same? If any taste difference, why do you think this is so?


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