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Spices and Flavors; Spice Types, Natural and Artificial Flavors

Spices and flavors are ingredients used to enhance the taste of food, enrich it or suppress bad taste. Taste can be defined as the feeling created by all the characteristics of food that can be perceived with the tongue and nose after it is taken into the mouth.

While defining food, it was mentioned that taste is a need for human beings (see Food and Nutrition; Definitions, History and Nutrients). Therefore, an expectation of taste arises from food. In this context, the taste and smell of food become very important.

The taste and smell of food are characteristics that occur by many molecules with different aromas and tastes. Numerous molecules with different chemical structures, such as fatty acids, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, cyclic compounds, ketones, terpene alcohols, lactones, phenols and sulfur-containing compounds, have an effect on flavor and taste in foods.

Today we know that the unique flavor of coffee is due to the 528 different molecules it contains. Likewise, the flavor of the tea is made up of 300 different molecules it contains. Taste and flavor molecules can be found in foods in 6 different ways;

1. As a natural ingredient; Molecules that give taste and flavor to a food can be found naturally in that food. For example, the distinctive flavor of the orange is due to the molecules it naturally contains.

2. May occur during processing; Especially the heat treatment applied to the food can create new aromatic molecules in the food. The best-known example of this situation is some compounds formed as a result of the Maillard reaction. Smoking can also be mentioned as another process that imparts a flavor component.

3. May occur as a result of microbial activity; Microorganisms in food release new and different molecules while using food as their food. While this is desirable in fermented foods such as cheese or yogurt, it can also be undesirable resulting in spoilage.

4. May be formed as a result of chemical reactions; Different triggers such as heat, light, oxygen or humidity can cause some chemical reactions in the food, and different aromatic molecules can be formed as a result of these reactions. The bitterness that occurs in oils over time is mostly due to free fatty acids released as a result of oxidation.

5. They may contaminate food; Especially volatile flavored molecules can penetrate different foods in an environment. As the most well-known example, butter, which is put in the refrigerator openly, can attract the smell of different foods in the refrigerator.

6. They can be added to food as additives; Aromatic molecules can be found in foods by adding flavors and spices to the food as additives.

Flavors and spices are important components used to meet the flavor needs of foods. In fact, some dishes gain a distinctive character with the spice added to them and that dish cannot be imagined without that spice.

It is known that human beings can perceive over 10 thousand different flavors. In addition to the basic tastes such as sweetness, saltiness, bitterness and sourness, there are over 20 identifiable flavors.


Spices are natural ingredients. They are generally obtained by drying and grinding aromatic herbs. Naturally, the amount of use is limited by the degree and sharpness of the flavor it gives, rather than its effect on health.

Spices to the definition of the American Food and Drug Administration; means any aromatic vegetable matter in whole, broken or ground form, excluding items traditionally considered food, such as onions, garlic and celery. The important function of spices in food is to flavor food rather than nutrition.

Allspice, anise, basil, bay leaf, cumin seeds, cardamom, celery seeds, parsley, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin seeds, dill seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek, ginger, horseradish, mace, marjoram, mustard flour, nutmeg, thyme, paprika, parsley, pepper, black pepper, white pepper, red pepper, saffron, sage, savory, star anise, tarragon, thyme, turmeric are the main spices used.

As it is known, some spices such as red pepper, turmeric and saffron are spices that are used for coloring as well as flavoring. The purpose for which these spices are added should be stated on the food label.

Spices and herbs of origin generally considered safe (GRAS) are as follows;

GarlicAllium sativum L.
ChivesAllium schoenoprasum L.
GalangaAlpina officinarum Hance.
Grains of paradiseAmomum melegueta Rosc.
DillAnethum graveolens L.
AngelicaAngelica archangelica L. or other spp. of Angelica.
Camomile, English or RomanAnthemis nobilis L.
ChervilAnthriscus cerefolium (L.) Hoffm.
Celery seedApium graveolens L.
HorseradishArmoracia lapathifolia Gilib.
TarragonArtemisia dracunculus L.
Mustard, white or yellowBrassica hirta Moench.
Mustard, brownBrassica juncea (L.) Coss.
Mustard, black or brownBrassica nigra (L.) Koch.
CalendulaCalendula officinalis L.
Marigold, potCalendula officinalis L.
Pot marigoldCalendula officinalis L.
CapersCapparis spinosa L.
PaprikaCapsicum annuum L.
CapsicumCapsicum frutescens L. or Capsicum annuum L.
Cayenne pepperCapsicum frutescens L. or Capsicum annuum L.
Pepper, cayenneCapsicum frutescens L. or Capsicum annuum L.
CarawayCarum carvi L.
Cassia, Padang or BataviaCinnamomum burmanni Blume.
Cassia, ChineseCinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cinnamon, ChineseCinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cassia, SaigonCinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Cinnamon, SaigonCinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Cinnamon, CeylonCinnamomum zeylanicum Nees.
CorianderCoriandrum sativum L.
SaffronCrocus sativus L.
CuminCuminum cyminum L.
TurmericCurcuma longa L.
ZedoaryCurcuma zedoaria Rosc.
Angelica rootDo.
Angelica seedDo.
Pepper, redDo.
CardamomElettaria cardamomum Maton.
ClovesEugenia caryophyllata Thunb.
Fennel, commonFoeniculum vulgare Mill.
Fennel, sweetFoeniculum vulgare Mill. var. duice (DC.) Alex.
Angostura (cusparia bark)Galipea officinalis Hancock.
GlycyrrhizaGlycyrrhiza glabra L. and other spp. of Glycyrrhiza.
LicoriceGlycyrrhiza glabra L. and other spp. of Glycyrrhiza.
Ambrette seedHibiscus abelmoschus L.
HyssopHyssopus officinalis L.
Anise, starIllicium verum Hook. f.
Star aniseIllicium verum Hook. f.
BayLaurus nobilis L.
LavenderLavandula officinalis Chaix.
OreganoLippia spp.
Marjoram, sweetMajorana hortensis Moench.
Marjoram, potMajorana onites (L.) Benth.
Pot marjoramMajorana onites (L.) Benth.
HorehoundMarrubium vulgare L.
Camomile (chamomile), German or HungarianMatricaria chamomilla L.
Balm (lemon balm)Melissa officinalis L.
PeppermintMentha piperita L.
SpearmintMentha spicata L.
MaceMyristica fragrans Houtt.
NutmegMyristica fragrans Houtt.
Caraway, black (black cumin)Nigella sativa L.
Cumin, black (black caraway)Nigella sativa L.
Basil, sweetOcimum basilicum L.
Basil, bushOcimum minimum L.
Poppy seedPapaver somniferum L.
GeraniumPelargonium spp.
ParsleyPetroselinum crispum (Mill.) Mansf.
AllspicePimenta officinalis Lindl.
AnisePimpinella anisum L.
Pepper, blackPiper nigrum L.
Pepper, whitePiper nigrum L.
RosemaryRosmarinus officinalis L.
RueRuta graveolens L.
SageSalvia officinalis L.
Clary (clary sage)Salvia sclarea L.
Sage, GreekSalvia triloba L.
Elder flowersSambucus canadensis L.
Savory, summerSatureia hortensis L. (Satureja).
Savory, winterSatureia montana L. (Satureja).
SesameSesamum indicum L.
Thyme, wild or creepingThymus serpyllum L.
ThymeThymus vulgaris L.
Linden flowersTilia spp.
CloverTrifolium spp.
FenugreekTrigonella foenum-graecum L.
VanillaVanilla planifolia Andr., Vanilla tahitensis J. W. Moore.
GingerZingiber officinale Rosc.


Flavors, on the other hand, can be obtained from a natural substance or they can be produced completely artificially in the laboratory. In this context, seasonings are categorized into 2 different classes natural and artificial.

Natural flavors are usually obtained by being extracted from a plant or food. By definition, natural flavors are substances such as essential oils, oleoresin, protein hydrolyzate or distillate extract derived from spices, fruit or berry juice, vegetables or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herbs, bark, buds, roots, leaves or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy products by fermentation, distillation, heat treatment or enzyme application.

In this context, the natural flavor can be obtained by different methods from all the spices listed above.

Essential oils, oleoresins and natural extracts that are generally considered safe to use as natural flavors and the plants from which they are obtained are as follows;

Natural FlavorsPlant
Dog grass (quackgrass, triticum)Agropyron repens (L.) Beauv.
OnionAllium cepa L.
GarlicAllium sativum L.
Galanga (galangal)Alpinia officinarum Hance.
DillAnethum graveolens L.
Angelica rootAngelica archangelica L.
RosewoodAniba rosaeodora Ducke.
Camomile (chamomile) flowers, Roman or EnglishAnthemis nobilis L.
ChervilAnthriscus cerefolium (L.) Hoffm.
Celery seedApium graveolens L.
Estragole (esdragol, esdragon, tarragon)Artemisia dracunculus L.
TarragonArtemisia dracunculus L.
MustardBrassica spp.
CanangaCananga odorata Hook. f. and Thoms.
Ylang-ylangCananga odorata Hook. f. and Thoms.
PaprikaCapsicum annuum L.
CapsicumCapsicum frutescens L. and Capsicum annuum L.
CarawayCarum carvi L.
Hickory barkCarya spp.
Carob beanCeratonia siliqua L.
Locust beanCeratonia siliqua L.
Pipsissewa leavesChimaphila umbellata Nutt.
ChicoryCichorium intybus L.
Cassia bark, Padang or BataviaCinnamomum burmanni Blume.
Cassia bark, ChineseCinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cinnamon bark, ChineseCinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cinnamon leaf, ChineseCinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cassia bark, SaigonCinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Cinnamon bark, SaigonCinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Cinnamon leaf, SaigonCinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Cinnamon bark, CeylonCinnamomum zeylanicum Nees.
Cinnamon leaf, CeylonCinnamomum zeylanicum Nees.
LimeCitrus aurantifolia Swingle.
Curacao orange peel (orange, bitter peel)Citrus aurantium L.
Neroli, bigaradeCitrus aurantium L.
Orange, bitter, flowersCitrus aurantium L.
PetitgrainCitrus aurantium L.
Bergamot (bergamot orange)Citrus aurantium L. subsp. bergamia Wright et Arn.
LemonCitrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
Lemon peelCitrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
Petitgrain lemonCitrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
GrapefruitCitrus paradisi Macf.
NaringinCitrus paradisi Macf.
MandarinCitrus reticulata Blanco.
Petitgrain mandarin or tangerineCitrus reticulata Blanco.
TangerineCitrus reticulata Blanco.
Orange leafCitrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck.
Citrus peelsCitrus spp.
CoffeeCoffea spp.
Cola nutCola acuminata Schott and Endl., and other spp. of Cola.
CorianderCoriandrum sativum L.
SaffronCrocus sativus L.
Cascarilla barkCroton eluteria Benn.
Cumin (cummin)Cuminum cyminum L.
TurmericCurcuma longa L.
Zedoary barkCurcuma zedoaria Rosc.
Lemon grassCymbopogon citratus DC. and Cymbopogon flexuosus Stapf.
Geranium, East IndianCymbopogon martini Stapf.
PalmarosaCymbopogon martini Stapf.
CitronellaCymbopogon nardus Rendle.
CarrotDaucus carota L.
Angelica seedDo.
Angelica stemDo.
Clove leafDo.
Clove stemDo.
Dandelion rootDo.
Estragon (tarragon)Do.
Glycyrrhizin, ammoniatedDo.
Menthyl acetateDo.
Orange, bitter, peelDo.
Orange, sweetDo.
Orange, sweet, flowersDo.
Orange, sweet, peelDo.
Rose (otto of roses, attar of roses)Do.
Rose budsDo.
Rose flowersDo.
Rose fruit (hips)Do.
Thyme, whiteDo.
Violet leavesDo.
Violet leaves absoluteDo.
Cardamom seed (cardamon)Elettaria cardamomum Maton.
Coca (decocainized)Erythroxylum coca Lam. and other spp. of Erythroxylum.
Clove budEugenia caryophyllata Thunb.
AsafoetidaFerula assa-foetida L. and related spp. of Ferula.
Fennel, sweetFoeniculum vulgare Mill.
Angostura (cusparia bark)Galipea officinalis Hancock.
GlycyrrhizaGlycyrrhiza glabra L. and other spp. of Glycyrrhiza.
LicoriceGlycyrrhiza glabra L. and other spp. of Glycyrrhiza.
ImmortelleHelichrysum augustifolium DC.
Ambrette (seed)Hibiscus moschatus Moench.
Malt (extract)Hordeum vulgare L., or other grains.
HopsHumulus lupulus L.
LupulinHumulus lupulus L.
LavandinHybrids between Lavandula officinalis Chaix and Lavandula latifolin Vill.
HyssopHyssopus officinalis L.
Yerba MateIlex paraguariensis St. Hil.
JasmineJaminum officinale L. and other spp. of Jasminum.
Juniper (berries)Juniperus communis L.
Bay leavesLaurus nobilis L.
Laurel berriesLaurus nobilis L.
Laurel leavesLaurus spp.
Lavender, spikeLavandula latifolia Vill.
LavenderLavandula officinalis Chaix.
Marjoram, sweetMajorana hortensis Moench.
Horehound (hoarhound)Marrubium vulgare L.
Camomile (chamomile) flowers, HungarianMatricaria chamomilla L.
AlfalfaMedicago sativa L.
Balm (lemon balm)Melissa officinalis L.
PeppermintMentha piperita L.
SpearmintMentha spicata L.
MentholMentha spp.
HorsemintMonarda punctata L.
MaceMyristica fragrans Houtt.
NutmegMyristica fragrans Houtt.
Balsam of PeruMyroxylon pereirae Klotzsch.
Tannic acidNutgalls of Quercus infectoria Oliver and related spp. of Quercus. Also in many other plants.
BasilOcimum basilicum L.
OriganumOriganum spp.
Geranium, rosePelargonium graveolens L’Her.
GeraniumPelargonium spp.
ParsleyPetroselinum crispum (Mill.) Mansf.
AllspicePimenta officinalis Lindl.
PimentaPimenta officinalis Lindl.
Bay (myrcia oil)Pimenta racemosa (Mill.) J. W. Moore.
AnisePimpinella anisum L.
Pepper, blackPiper nigrum L.
Pepper, whitePiper nigrum L.
TuberosePolianthes tuberosa L.
Pimenta leafPrimenta officinalis Lindl.
Almond, bitter (free from prussic acid)Prunus amygdalus Batsch, Prunus armeniaca L. or Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.
Cherry, wild, barkPrunus serotina Ehrh.
Sloe berries (blackthorn berries)Prunus spinosa L.
GuavaPsidium spp.
PomegranatePunica granatum L.
Rose absoluteRosa alba L., Rosa centifolia L., Rosa damascena Mill., Rosa gallica L. and vars. of these spp.
Rose leavesRosa spp.
RosemaryRosmarinus officinalis L.
RueRuta graveolens L.
Molasses (extract)Saccharum officinarum L.
Sage, SpanishSalvia lavandulaefolia Vahl.
SageSalvia officinalis L.
Clary (clary sage)Salvia sclarea L.
Sage, GreekSalvia triloba L.
Elder flowersSambucus canadensis L. and S. nigra L.
Savory, summerSatureia hortensis L.
Savory, winterSatureia montana L.
Schinus molleSchinus molle L.
TamarindTamarindus indica L.
DandelionTaraxacum officinale Weber and T. laevigatum DC.
TeaThea sinensis L.
CacaoTheobroma cacao L.
Thyme, wild or creepingThymus serpyllum L.
ThymeThymus vulgaris L. and Thymus zygis var. gracilis Boiss.
Linden flowersTilia spp.
CloverTrifolium spp.
FenugreekTrigonella foenum-graecum L.
VanillaVanilla planifolia Andr. or Vanilla tahitensis J. W. Moore.
Violet flowersViola odorata L.
Prickly ash barkXanthoxylum (or ZanthoxylumAmericanum Mill. or Xanthoxylum clava-herculis L.
Corn silkZea mays L.
GingerZingiber officinale Rosc.

Artificial flavors are substances produced by chemical means in the laboratory. Artificial flavors that are considered safe to use are as follows;

Artificial Flavors
Piperonal (3,4-methylenedioxy-benzaldehyde, heliotropin).
N-Butyric acid (butanoic acid).
Methyl anthranilate (methyl-2-aminobenzoate).
l-Malic acid.
Linalyl acetate (bergamol).
Linalool (linalol, 3,7-dimethyl-1,6-octadien-3-ol).
Limonene (d-, l- and dl-).
Glycerol (glyceryl) tributyrate (tributyrin, butyrin).
Geranyl acetate (geraniol acetate).
Geraniol (3,7-dimethyl-2,6 and 3,6-octadien-1-ol).
Ethyl vanillin.
Diacetyl (2,3-butandeione). Ethyl acetate. Ethyl butyrate.
Decanal (N-decylaldhehyde, capraldehyde).
d– or l-Carvone (carvol).
Citral (2,6-dimethyloctadien-2,6-al-8, geranial, neral).
Cinnamaldehyde (cinnamic aldehyde).
Benzaldehyde (benzoic aldehyde).
Anethole (parapropenyl anisole).
3-Methyl-3-phenyl glycidic acid ethyl ester

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