There is one attribute to food and beverages on which consumers never want to compromise. No matter the latest trends, popular diets, or your personal habits, flavor is always of the utmost importance. This is where flavor extracts and emulsions come in – their ability to create custom flavors helps provide the savory tastes you crave, whether you’re seeking bubblegum, caramel, vanilla, or almond. Extracts and emulsions are a valuable component of your food, so it’s important to understand the difference between the two, when they should be used, and why.

The Importance of Flavor Extracts & Emulsions

Taste is one of the primary deciding factors for the product you choose. The flavor of a given brand’s product is what distinguishes it from its competition. Producers know this, which is why when marketing a healthy snack, for example, brands always mention that it still tastes as good or better than its competitors. Consumers want to eat healthy, but they also want to enjoy the taste of what they’re eating and drinking. If they’re going to be talked into trading one food for another, they need to be assured they’re not missing out on taste. The proper flavoring extracts and emulsions can help with this.

Flavor Extracts vs. Flavor Emulsions

We know flavor extracts and emulsions are the two main types of flavoring ingredients, but what makes the two different? Why might you use one instead of the other? Emulsions and extracts are not the same thing, so knowing when and how to use them is key.

The main difference lies in where the flavor compounds are suspended. A flavor extract uses a 35% (approximate) alcohol solution to suspend the flavor compounds. A flavor emulsion suspends the flavor compounds in water and vegetable gum.

One of the most common flavor extracts in a household is vanilla extract. Suspending the vanilla flavor compounds in alcohol is a smart choice for the end user because it is rare anyone would use that much vanilla extract at once. Because alcohol is a tremendous flavor solvent and preservative, many households benefit from the long-lasting and flavorful vanilla extract. A downside to extracts is the volatility of alcohol. Because it’s volatile, it evaporates fast, but as the alcohol evaporates, it takes some of the flavor and smells with it.

By comparison, flavor emulsions use the gooey mix of water and vegetable gum, which don’t evaporate nearly as quickly as alcohol and thus better retain essential oils during baking. Some people prefer emulsions and the more robust flavor, whereas others believe it can be overwhelming.

Whether an extract or an emulsion is the right choice for you depends on the type of flavor you’re looking for and the size of what you’re producing. Contact us to discuss the flavor options we always have in stock or to develop a custom flavor specifically for your needs.