'pHruit' awareness

by Jeff Gelski
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Flavors of lemons, limes and other tropical fruit are finding their way into marinades. For evidence, check out several new A.1 marinades: ginger teriyaki, mango chipotle and roasted garlic with lemon. The fruit may add bold flavors that appeal to consumers, but they also may increase acid content. Marinade manufacturers and other food processors need to be on guard for that possibility.

Vinegar or citrus fruit such as lemons or limes may be highly acidic, said Chris Kelly, technical services manager for Advanced Food Systems, (A.F.S.) Inc., Somerset, N.J.

"They will tend to denature the protein, or they can chemically cook the meat before being heat treated," he said.

Chris Keegan, senior research chef for Cargill Flavors, added, "When you apply acid into protein, it starts tenderizing, but you hit a point where the tenderizing stops."

Some ingredients, such as phosphates, may be added to marinades to offset the low pH, Mr. Kelly said. Low pH sauces are one reason a dry sauce line from French’s is gaining in popularity, said Rhonda McRae, national key accounts manager for French’s Flavor Ingredients, Springfield, Mo.

"Some of the very volatile compounds like vinegar tend to flash off in the spray-dry process, increasing the pH of the end product," she said.

Cargill, A.F.S. and Kraft Food Ingredients, Memphis, Tenn., all offer flavors that are spray dried. They keep the protein moist and juicy when it is reheated, Mr. Kelly said. Ms. McRae said dry sauces also work well as a marinade in a variety of applications that are re-heated in the microwave after cooking, freezing and thawing.

"Marinades have been used extensively in microwave products as a combatant to dried out products and warmed over flavors, which are common after microwaving," said Zachery Sanders, research senior scientist for Kraft Food Ingredients.

In the microwave area, acid level and enzyme level are a concern, Mr. Keegan said. Enzymes may have a denaturing effect.

Citrus fruit and pH levels appear likely to play a role in the marinade industry for awhile because of ethnic flavor trends. Asian, Latin and Mediterranean remain strong flavor profiles for marinades, Mr. Keegan said. Among Asian flavors he said different flavors such as Malaysian and Indonesian are appearing. Besides Latin flavors of Mexican origin, flavors with an Argentine or Brazilian twist are being used often in marinades.

For one example, the mojo flavor is growing in popularity, Mr. Sanders said.

"This is a Cuban flavor profile that consists of a sour orange flavor combined with spice notes such as cumin, nutmeg and garlic," he said. "The mojito flavor, which is sometimes associated with an alcoholic beverage, has become popular as well."

When Cargill customers request fruit, they definitely want to taste the fruit in the marinade, Mr. Keegan said.

"We are seeing a lot more requests for fruits or fruit-type applications where they are mixed in with different herbs and spices," Mr. Keegan said.

Cargill recently had chiles, cumins and garlic in a flavor system along with lemon and orange flavors, Mr. Keegan said.

"It was a real vibrant-type tropical flavor profile," he said.

Kraft Food Ingredients offers the Cuisine of Caribbean, which may be used as a base for several Caribbean-type applications, Mr. Sanders said. The flavor consists of traditional Caribbean spices, including nutmeg and all spice, and the flavor also contains a wood fired cooked note.

Barbecue leads among seasonings, marinades for protein products

Barbecue ranked as the most popular seasoning or marinade among the top 15 seasoned/marinade items by protein in the 2007 National Meat Case Study (N.M.C.S.). Barbecue accounted for 17.5% of all packages that were coded marinated or seasoned. In pork items, barbecue accounted for 24.8%. In beef, the percentage was 25.2%.

Cryovac Food Packaging, a division of Sealed Air Corp., Duncan, S.C.; the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Centennial, Colo.; and the National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa, commissioned research that formed the basis for the N.M.C.S., which was published in October.

Lemon garlic was the highest rated flavor containing fruit among seasonings/marinades at 3.3%. The flavor came in at 10.6% of all turkey items. Apple bourbon was at 1.5% overall and at 3.6% for pork items.

The H.J. Heinz Co., Pittsburgh, co-partners with Jack Daniels for marinades featuring the bourbon and the flavors of mesquite, honey teriyaki or garlic and herb. Vita Food Products, Chicago, partners with Jim Beam bourbon for gourmet marinade, teriyaki gourmet marinade and lemon and herb marinade. Vita Food Products also offers products called Dr Pepper More than Mesquite Marinade and 7 UP Citrus Marinade.

Marinades and seasonings

Per cent of protein packages coded marinated or seasoned



Unspecified (seasoned)










Lemon Garlic








Taco Flavor


Mesquite BBQ


Roast Flavor


Sloppy Joe


Apple Bourbon


Source: National Meat Case Study 2007

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, October 16, 2007, starting on Page 44. Click here to search that archive.

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