Buddy maple syrup is characterized by an unpleasant cabbage?like flavor occurring generally toward the end of the sap harvest season. Occurrence of buddy off?flavor leads to a decrease in syrup value and economic loss for the industry. It is therefore relevant to characterize the off?flavor in order to apply corrective treatments. HS?SPME combined with GC/MS was applied to analyze volatile aroma compounds in buddy maple syrup samples. Two novel volatile sulfur compounds were found in maple syrup: dimethyl disulfide (DMDS) and dimethyl trisulfide. A 3?alternative forced choice in ascending concentration of different buddy syrups diluted in good quality syrup was conducted in triplicate to assess buddy syrup concentration thresholds leading to detection and recognition of the off?flavor by 16 panelists while monitoring volatile aroma compounds in diluted samples. Results showed that DMDS was associated with the flavor defect. The recognition threshold concentration of buddy syrup varies depending on the syrup sample and the off?flavor can be detected in syrups containing very low DMDS content. Application of a continuous heat treatment on buddy syrups for 2 hr at 104.5 ¡C led to a removal of the buddy off?flavor as well as a significant reduction in DMDS content.
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Acquiring the ability to identify common off-flavours in maple syrup is important for producers. Detecting buddy off-flavour in fresh sap can be difficult, although much easier to taste in finished syrup. Buddy syrup can be described as an unpleasant chocolatey aroma and flavour having a lingering bad aftertaste. Buddy flavour in maple syrup is a food quality issue, not a food safety issue.
Buddy off-flavour is an annual, natural occurrence that has been well recognized since the dawn of commercial maple production in the late 19th century. As we began our investigation there were two basic ideas for the sudden appearance of buddy syrup. The first was that heating sap containing elevated levels of particular amino acids produced compounds (pyrazines) that contributed to buddy off flavour. A more recent idea has been that yeasts in the sap convert sulfur-containing amino acids into compounds that explain the off flavours.