What is a concentrate?

06/11/2018 0 Comment(s)


Last week we talked about single flavor testing and that was a great place to start, so where do we go from there? Frankly, if you really want to understand your flavors you’re going to have to understand them, and try them all by themselves. Yup you read that right…all by themselves!

In Blog week 2 we’ll discuss WHAT A CONCENTRATE IS and WHY ON OCCASSION DOES MY FLAVOR TASTE LIKE CHEMICALS? Dictionary.com defines a concentrate as a Verb:  to become more intense, stronger, or purer and as a noun: a concentrated form of something; a product of concentration (e.g.
a juice concentrate).


What does this mean? Simply stated, it's a stronger version of what you need so you must dilute it and that's it. Remember those frozen juice concentrate cans Mom used? Put the contents in a pitcher, fill with water at a ratio of 1 part concentrate to 3 parts water mix it up and voila you have juice. And then you have powdered concentrates such as Kool Aid or Country Time... sure it's powder, but it's still a concentrate and one may even suggest that Country Time is a super concentrate LOL. The point is you don't add a gallon of powder mix to a gallon of water, do you? Of course not, it's concentrated.  


The same concept applies to essentially all concentrates whether it’s powdered, liquid or frozen, and each concentrate that you encounter will most likely be different than another.  So what do you do if something tastes funny to you, has a chemical taste, or just seems off? FIRST! Did you check and see where to start your test at? Is the percentage correct based on suggestions from the manufacturer? Did you start on the low end of the suggested range?

Did you let it age/steep? If you taste something right off the shake, the molecules have not had enough time to blend into the vg. I’ve noticed many times that the flavoring and the carrier fluid or dilutant (e.g. PG/VG) can actually be tasted separately almost like the flavoring is sitting right on top of the Carrier fluid. Let it age / steep, don’t be in a hurry…as the old saying goes “everything in due time”.  If it’s a cream, give it a couple weeks before tasting it. Many custards, and bakeries can take upwards of a month for you to get the molecules to blend completely. If it’s a fruit, give it at least 3 days. 


Okay so it has been allowed to age / steep, and you taste it for the first time a few minutes pass and you realize IT STILL has a chemical aftertaste. No problem…try a lower percentage! The following are two examples I like to use of REALLY strong flavors from Flavor Art and Inawera where less is definitely more and it solves that chemical aftertaste problem.

FA Blackberry:  This is one of those flavors that if you use it at the recommended percent, it’s horrible. It tastes like perfume. Even if used at 1% or above it will leave you feeling like you just walked through the perfume section of a department store. BUT! Believe it or not, it’s an excellent flavor at the right percentage! At 1-3 drops per 30 ml’s (.08%-.2%) it can impart a VERY rich, delicious blackberry flavor that with a little FA Fresh Cream and sweetener of choice, can be absolutely amazing. Sounds crazy right? ONE drop? YUP! Many of the higher quality flavorings need so little that they represent an excellent purchase value. Think about how long 10ml’s of blackberry will last when used at such a low percentage. 

Inawera Jungle Frost:  Here is another one that I like to use as an example, it’s a BRAND new flavor from Inawera and to be honest, it is fantastic. BUT, it must be used lightly. If you were to use this at 2-3% it would be STRAIGHT perfume. BUT! Try it at 1-3 drops again and BAMM it’s AMAZING! Especially when added to tropical fruits or berries. Remember, you can always add more flavoring but you cannot take any away. 

Inawera Wild Strawberry:  Yet another flavor that is SO STRONG that anything more than 2 drops per 50mls is PUSHING it. I usually use one drop with other berries. I LOVE it with black currant, blueberries, and even other strawberries. Some cream and some vanilla and it is downright delicious. 

Just remember the manufacturers recommended percentage may be not what YOUR palate can deal with. You can always start low and put more flavoring in; because if you put too much you can never take it out. Usually the main reason you get a chemical taste is because the percentage is too high. Always keep in mind that many flavoring concentrates are “extremely concentrated” and sometimes are not very forgiving. 

Rock On,

Joe Melvin