Italian researchers have optimised the extraction of the mushroom flavor compound 1-octen-3-ol from a flower, highlighting the potential of a natural alternative.
The new study, published in Food Chemistry, suggests 1-octen-3-ol - a compound with a ‘musty’ mushroom aroma - can be efficiently extracted from the flowering plant Melittis melissophyllum subsp. Melissophyllum.
Researchers say that an improved extraction process could lead to a new ‘rich source’ of the flavor compound.
“These findings revealed that M. melissophyllum is the first example of a plant, that under appropriate conditions, may be used as a mushroom-like flavoring agent in food products.” wrote the researchers, led by Sauro Vittori from the University of Camerino in Italy.
The compound 1-octen-3-ol is well known for its unique fungal taste and aroma, and is widely used by the food industry as a flavoring agent. It is found in many types of fungi and mushroom, as well as certain plants from the mint family.
Essential oils from Melittis melissophyllum L. subsp. Melissophyllum, found in central Italy, are known to contain a high amount of 1-octen-3-ol, with previous research suggesting the plant could be a “rich source” of the compound.
However, researchers noted previously obtained high concentrations may not be a true representation of the plant’s profile – suggesting elevated temperatures, and moist conditions, may have favoured certain reactions during extraction and could have increased the yield of 1-octen-3-ol.
The new study aimed to investigate the effects of extraction parameters (temperature, water addition, extraction time, particle size, sample amount, and collection time) on the production of 1-octen-3-ol from M. melissophyllum subsp. Melissophyllum - in order to “maximise the yield, and to emphasise the possible application of the plant as a mushroom flavoring additive in food processing.”
The researchers used solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and gas chromatography techniques (GC–FID and GC–MS) to test the influence of extraction conditions on 1-octen-3-ol levels.
The most favourable extraction conditions were found to be with a sample amount of 30 mg, at an extraction temperature of 40oC, with the addition of 20 micro-litres water, a particle size of 1 mm, and an extraction time of 30 min.
The study shows M. melissophyllum as the first example of a plant - that with appropriate extraction conditions - could be used as a mushroom-like flavoring agent in food products, claim the researchers.
“The SPME method allowed the same 1-octen-3-ol levels occurring in essential oil to be obtained in the headspace, underlining the potentiality of the plant as mushroom flavoring or a mushroom- like flavor enhancer in food industry,” stated the authors.
“The potentiality of this plant to produce economically interesting natural flavor has to be deeply investigated,” added the reserchers.
They noted that “further works on the enzymic process leading to the production of 1-octen-3-ol from M. melissophyllum are needed.”
Source: Food Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.05.049
“Characterisation of the mushroom-like flavor of Melittis melissophyllum L. subsp. melissophyllum by headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) coupled with gas chromatography (GC–FID) and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS)”
Authors: F. Maggi, F. Papa, G. Cristalli, G. Sagratini, S. Vittori