Science: The Anatomy of Flavor

Pineapples get their taste partly from hydroxyvaleric acid. But they are also a mixture of other acids, esters, alcohols, and a protein-splitting enzyme (bromelin) that will eat the skin off a man's fingers if given half a chance.

In the current Engineering and Science Monthly, a Caltech flavor chemist, Hoiland-born Dr. Arie J. Haagen-Smit, tells how he vacuum-distilled 6,000 pounds of pineapples and ended up with a few grams of powerful pineapple essence. He took the essence apart bit by bit, identifying microscopic amounts of flavor-giving compounds. Then he mixed a cocktail of the chemicals he had spotted. The result was...

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