Flavor Bites: 2-Acetyl Pyrazine
Use in brown, vegetable,
tropical and other flavors
John Wright; firstname.lastname@example.org
secondary note when used at around
Black tea: Black tea flavors contain a slight roasted note, which can
be higher in some types (oolong) than
others (Darjeeling); 10 ppm is a good
starting level for a natural effect.
VOL. 35 OCTOBER 2010
pyrazine, but several are interesting.
2-Acetyl-3-methyl pyrazine is the next
most useful member of the family and
can be used in a way similar to 2-acetyl
pyrazine, providing a little more
heat stability at the price of reduced
impact. 2-Acetyl-3-ethyl pyrazine has
noticeably less impact, but it has an
interesting earthy note that works well
in peanut flavors.
Pyrazines have been in common use in flavors for the past 50 years, and all flavorists tend
to gravitate towards their favorite
members of this interesting family of
chemicals. 2-Acetyl pyrazine (FEMA#
3126; CAS# 22047-25-2) is one of my
overall favorite raw materials because
of its unique character, power and
flexibility, and the fact that it is found
widely in nature.
Pyrazines, together with related
chemicals such as pyridines, can be
characterized by odor as predominantly roasted, peanut or popcorn.
The best example of a chemical with
a roasted note is trimethyl pyrazine (FEMA# 3244). 2,3-Dimethyl
pyrazine (FEMA# 3271) is the best
example of a chemical with a peanut character, and 2-acetyl pyridine
(FEMA# 3251) is the best representative of the popcorn note. Most
finished flavor categories require a
combination of these three profile
characters, in differing proportions.
Roasted notes dominate chocolate
flavors, peanut notes dominate nut
flavors and, unsurprisingly, popcorn
notes are dominant in popcorn flavors.
2-Acetyl pyrazine has a very attractive combination of all three notes,
most notably roasted and popcorn, and
for this reason it is very effective in a
wide range of heated flavor profiles.
Several similar chemicals are used in
flavors, notably 2-acetyl-3-ethyl pyrazine (FEMA# 3250), 2-acetyl-3-methyl
pyrazine (FEMA# 3964) and 2-acetyl-
3,5-dimethyl pyrazine (FEMA# 3327),
2-acetyl-6-methyl pyrazine, 2-acetyl-
6-ethyl pyrazine, 2-acetyl-5-methyl
pyrazine and 2-acetyl- 3, 5,6-trimethyl
pyrazine. Of these alternatives none
are as ubiquitous in nature as 2-acetyl
Coffee: 2-Acetyl pyrazine is a key
ingredient of all good coffee flavors,
but the levels of use can vary dramatically. Levels around 10 ppm in a flavor
that is intended for use at 0.05% in a
taster, ready-to-drink beverage or a
bouillon can have a significant effect.
Higher levels, even up to 1,000 ppm,
are also possible, but an ideal level is,
in my opinion, around 200 ppm.
Caramel: The roasted note is not
as important in caramel and toffee
flavors but, once again, 2-acetyl pyrazine is probably the best choice of all
the available pyrazines; 150 ppm is a
good, typical level of use.
Chocolate: This chemical should
probably not be the dominant roasted
note in cocoa and chocolate flavors,
but it does provide a very attractive
Nut and Seed Flavors
Hazelnut: This chemical provides
the perfect roasted note for hazelnut flavors. Levels of use can vary
dramatically from 100 ppm to 1,000
ppm; 300 ppm is an ideal compromise
for most hazelnut and praline flavors.
Pistachio: 2-Acetyl pyrazine is
almost equally well suited to pistachio
flavors and provides a unique note
that is very hard to achieve with any
other ingredient; 200 ppm is a good
starting level, but higher quantities
can be used successfully.
Peanut: Peanut flavors are another
perfect area of use for this ingredient.
Levels can vary with the degree of
roasting, but 150 ppm is a good level
to start with.
Almond: Toasted and roasted
almond flavors can benefit from the
addition of varying levels of this ingredient, starting at 100 ppm, but up to
1,000 ppm in highly roasted flavors.
Sesame: The pungent aroma of
toasted sesame seeds is widely used
in Asian cooking; 300 ppm of 2-acetyl
pyrazine is a good starting point in
toasted sesame seed flavors.
Rice: Cooked rice flavors can be
challenging to create, but the addition
of 100 ppm of 2-acetyl pyrazine can
give an interesting effect.
Barley: Cooked notes are typically only of secondary importance in
barley flavors, but can be achieved by
the addition of around 50 ppm.