How to Analyze Flavor Using SPME (Solid Phase Micro Extraction) and Solvent Extraction
Flavor can be described in many ways, and can be very subjective as one person that like a certain type of food or beverage may describe it in a positive way, while other may have completely different opinion on the matter. Flavor and one's preference on the flavor is a very personal matter. So, how do the food and beverage companies create a flavor that would be enjoyed by most people? They would need to study and analyze many different types of formulas to get the final product. In this article, we will explain several methods to analyze flavor.
The aroma compounds are related to the volatile flavor components and these compounds are detected as odors by the human olfactory system. Odors can be described as floral, green, fruity, nutty, roasted, and so on. Moreover, each odor can be described further, for example, the floral odor can also described as having woody, soft, aromatic, or citrus odor.
There are a lot of ingredients in our food, and different cooking method will create a different flavor. So, there are many varieties of flavors that can be created. In fact, there are over 7000 volatile compounds that can be detected in foods . In the next part, we will discuss the two most common methods for isolating the volatile compound.
Sorptive Extraction or SPME
Sorptive extraction also called Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) has an adsorbent coated in inert fiber which is placed in the headspace of the sample and adsorbs the volatile compound. The duration of extraction depends on the sample, and the temperature to extract the liquid sample depends on the boiling point of the target compound. There are several types of fibers that can be used in SPME, such as Carboxen, DVB, or PDMS fiber. After the adsorption process is done, the next step is desorption. In the desorption step, the loaded fiber is placed in the Gas Chromatograph (GC) carrier gas flow to release the volatile compounds which then will be detected and analyzed by the GC instrument.
The picture was taken by Kamila & Ian (2015) 
This method is using solvent to extract components from the sample. Some commonly used solvents are ethyl acetate, hexane, and ethanol. The first step is to add the solvent to the sample, then, the solution needs to be mixed. Typically Vortex Mixer would be used in the lab for this step. The solvent that has been in contact with the sample was then injected into GC-MS (Gas Chromatograph - Mass Spectrometer) to be analyzed.
At PT Mitra Ayu, we use the two methods discussed above to quantitatively analyze the aroma profile of our products.
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