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Extract versus Flavours; What is the Difference?

Extract versus Flavours; What is the Difference?

Extracts and flavors are often confused, with most people thinking they are one and the same thing as they usually achieve similar results. If you are looking for the best way to flavor your CBD products, or simply make taking CBD at home more bearable, it is important that you understand what each is, how they are arrived at, and how they will interact with your product. Join us as we dive into the intricacies of what separates them, and what is best for you!

Extract definition

An extract is an alcohol-soluble concentrated solution which contains the volatile oils, reins, and various other compounds that make up the flavor of the physical spice, nut, fruit, or herb being extracted. a concentrated solution that contains the complex, alcohol-soluble volatile oils, resins and other compounds – all the flavors – that are found in the physical herb, spice, fruit or nut being extracted.

An extract can also be described as a solution which contains the essential components that give a complex material its characteristics.  A flavor extract is one such a solution and is specifically composed of compounds which create flavors.  The most popular extract in the United States is the vanilla extract, vanillin.

An extract is a substance made by  extracting a part of a raw material, often by using a solvent such as ethanol, oil or water. Extracts may be sold as tinctures, absolutes or in powder form.

Extracts are sometimes very concentrated and potent. As per the FDA designation, an extract should contain at least 35% alcohol by volume, and an extract such as vanilla extract, which is the most popular extract in the US should contain at least 13.35% volume of the vanilla extractives.

Extracts are usually extracted from the raw materials using solvents such as ethanol, water, or oil. They may be sold as absolutes, tinctures or in powder form. Some of the most widely used extracts are vanilla, cinnamon, peppermint, pistachio, spearmint, nutmeg, orange, lemon, rum, violet, wintergreen, ginger, rose, and cloves.

Baking Flavors and Extracts 101

In some recipes, the use of a flavor extracts yields more uniform and tastier results than using the original ingredient itself. An example is using a cherry extract as opposed to cut up cherries to make pies, cakes, breads or cookies.

Some extracts used in baking come in water soluble glycerin, alcohol or water base while others like banana and anise come in an oil soluble canola base. The different extracts that can be used for baking are:

  •       Almond Extract
  •       Chocolate Extract
  •       Vanilla Extract
  •       Indonesia Vanilla Extract
  •       Papua New Guinea Vanilla Extract
  •       Almond Flavor
  •       Anise Flavor
  •       Banana Flavor
  •       Cherry Flavor
  •       Cinnamon Flavor
  •       Coconut Flavor
  •       Coffee Flavor
  •       Lemon Flavor
  •       Maple Flavor
  •       Mint Flavor
  •       Orange Flavor
  •       Peppermint Flavor
  •       Raspberry Flavor
  •       Strawberry Flavor
  •       Vanilla Flavor

Strawberry Flavor for Confection

Is Extract and Flavoring The Same Thing?

Extracts are specifically gotten from the original source. An example is the orange extract. It is the aroma of oranges extracted from the orange, first as an oil, then to make the extract water soluble; it is extracted to ethanol which is an alcohol and may be diluted by water. Extracts are most often quite concentrated and should therefore be used sparingly. Pure extracts may sometimes have a short shelf life because they are made from natural ingredients.

However, orange flavoring may not give the definition of source or concentration, unless it is specific such as natural flavors. While natural flavors may come from the orange itself, some flavors are concocted by the use of different ingredients such as cultures of fungi, or they can be completely artificial.

What Is The Difference Between Extract and Flavor Emulsion?

While extracts are usually alcohol based, emulsions are water-based and alcohol-free extractions of flavor. Emulsions are however used in the same way as extracts, and in baking, are great in flavoring frostings and other no-bake recipes that would not have the required heat to evaporate out the alcohol found in extracts.

Because they are water based, emulsions do not readily evaporate and result in more flavorful aromas and tastes.

As they have the same concentrations as extracts, emulsions can be substituted one for one in recipes.  But because they are water-based, they are not suitable for flavoring chocolates or hard candies.

Grape Flavor for confection

Can Extracts Be Used To Flavor Water?

Absolutely yes!

Whether commercially made or from mixed the comfort of your home, extracts can be used to flavor your water, especially if you want taste without added calories. Generally, a 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon of your preferred extract to your one glass of water is ideal.

It is important to note that while using an extract to flavor your water, a fresh extract works best. Storing the extracts in the fridge will help them keep longer and avoid that “off” taste.

What Are The Different Types of Extracts?

Food extracts are usually labelled and used to add concentrated flavor to many food dishes such as baked goods and desserts without adding additional volume.

Extracts are available in different forms such as:

  •       Solid (cubes, granules or powdered)
  •       Liquid
  •       Jelled form

Extracts could also be labelled as pure, natural or artificial. “Pure and natural extracts” are most often governed by the laws of many countries which require compliance to procedures that extract the flavors directly from the named source, such as extracting vanilla oils directly from vanilla beans to make natural or pure vanilla extract.

Artificial extracts on the other hand are flavors which do not necessarily make use of any ingredients sourced directly from the original item. They instead comprise combinations of ingredients used to arrive at a “flavor” that is similar to the original substance, such as an artificial lemon extract.

As we have discussed earlier, some of the most commonly used extracts include almond, vanilla, anise, peppermint, and maple. There are also a number of solid or jelled extracts like meat demi-glaces, or chicken and beef bouillon.

To illustrate how pure and natural extracts are made, let’s consider the process of the vanilla extract. Vanilla extracts are created by soaking vanilla beans in an alcohol based and water solution for several months where it ages and the vanilla flavor is extracted from the bean. Anise extract, on the other hand, is a sweet licorice tasting flavor that is made when the oil of the anise seeds is dissolved into alcohol.

Grape extract is made to aid in the wine making process. In grape extraction, compounds from the grapes’ skin are extracted and then added to the wine to impart color, tannin, and body into the wine. This changes the characteristics of the wine quite dramatically, and the longer the wine is in contact with the skins, the more potent it becomes. If the grapes stay in contact for too long, the wine that results may end up being too potent, or what is called “over-extracted”.

In some instances, the juices of some certain fruits or vegetables can be extracted to be used as flavoring especially in the preparation of foods. For home use, common utensils can be used in this extraction.

In summary, extraction of essential oils from the original source such as fruit, blossoms, and roots, can be condensed into:

  •       Expression (juicing, pressing): This involves the physical extraction of the flavor and is used when the oil is plentiful such as on olives, citrus peels, and grapes.
  •       Absorption (steeping, decoction): This is done by soaking the source material in a solvent. Common examples are vanilla beans as well as tea leaves.
  •       Maceration: This is used to soften and degrade the source material usually by using oils such as peppermint extract or wine making processes. This then makes the extraction easier.  
  •       Distillation or separation process: This is the process often used to achieve higher concentrations of flavor. The source material is heated to a specific boiling point which allows for the collection of the flavor that is then condensed to end up with an extract such as lavender. ,

Though it would be desirable to collect the flavors of most fruits, very few give enough concentrated flavor to make the process worth the while.

Peppermint Flavor for confection

Should You Buy Flavor Versus Extract?

When it comes to specific use, for example flavoring your CBD products, a solution that is tailor made to work with your product is best. While flavor extracts are awesome and sometimes even extracted from the natural base source, natural flavors can completely work with and infuse natural flavors into hemp and CBD products.

Natural flavor concentrates are usually more concentrated and give a substance a robust full flavor experience. A little bit of natural flavor concentrate will go a long way, and though extracts also get the job done, flavor concentrates bring the experience much closer home.

It might be argued as per the FDA definition that natural flavors may have duplicitous origins. That is why it is important to purchase your flavors from reputable, US based, and GRAS certified companies, to ensure you get 100% natural flavors.