How to make a strawberry

If Mother Nature was incarnated in today’s world, her wrinkled, battle-scarred old body would be photoshopped within an inch of its life and adorn every food package, beauty product and health item available. It’s a common trick of marketing to appear to be nature’s ally, relying on the unstated belief that millions of years of gradual evolution is a far safer bet than several decades of tinkering in the lab with a shaved lab rat and glassware full of smoking liquid.

Subtle hints are typically dropped through the clever use of language. Familiar words are safer than numbers and nomenclature, for instance. Glycerin is ok, but additive 422 isn’t (yup, same thing).

Some years ago I came across a paper on synthesising the flavour and aroma of the humble strawberry. It contained a list of chemicals that had been gathered from relevant literature that were present in this succulent, delicious fruit. It’s not even complete – they are simply the compounds researchers have managed to wring out of the plant and detect.

Somewhere below there lies the secret of what makes a strawberry tastes like a strawberry and not a banana or a grape. Of course, as always in nature, not only is it a question of the right combination, it’s as much the dose that maketh the poison. Or in this case, the delectable taste.

Next time somebody raises their eyes at the ingredients on a food packet and claims it looks like a chemistry lab, implying that is a good indication that the food must be worse for them than some other item, print out this page and hand it to them. Of course, being aware of the impact certain compounds have on our health is useful, regardless of whether you can pronounce it or not. But ‘long lists of big names and numbers, hyphens and greek letters’, as the strawberry shows, is not shorthand for unhealthy or toxic. By the same token, short lists and familiar words are no guarantee of being better for you.

Acids

  • Formic acid
  • 3-Hydroxyoctanoic acid
  • Acetic acid
  • 16 Nonanoic acid
  • Propanoic acid
  • Non-3-enoic acid
  • 2-Methylpropanoic acid
  • Decanoic acid
  • Butanoic acid
  • Dec-2-enoic acid
  • 2-Methylbutanoic acid
  • Undecanoic acid
  • 3-Methylbutanoic acid
  • Dodecanoic acid
  • 2-Methylbut-2-enoic acid
  • Tridecanoic acid
  • Pentanoic acid
  • Tetradecanoic acid
  • 4-Methylpentanoic acid
  • Tetradec-2-enoic acid
  • 2-Methylpent-2-enoic acid
  • Pentadecanoic acid
  • 2-Methylpent-3-enoic acid
  • Hexadecanoic acid
  • Hexanoic acid
  • Hexadec-9-enoic acid
  • Hex-2-enoic acid
  • Heptadecanoic acid
  • 5-Methylhexanoic acid
  • Octadec-9-enoic acid
  • 3-Hydroxyhexanoic acid
  • Octadeca-9,12-dienoic acid
  • Heptanoic acid
  • Octadeca-9,12,15-trienoic acid
  • Octanoic acid
  • Nonadecanoic acid
  • Oct-2-enoic acid
  • Eicosanoic acid

Alcohols

  • Methanol
  • Hex-1-en-3-ol
  • Ethanol
  • Heptan-1-ol
  • Propan-1-ol
  • Heptan-2-ol
  • Propan-2-ol
  • Heptan-3-ol
  • 2-Methylpropan-1-ol
  • Octan-1-ol
  • Butan-1-ol
  • Octan-2-ol
  • Butan-2-ol
  • Octan-3-ol
  • 2-Methylbutan-1-ol
  • Oct-3-en-1-ol
  • 3-Methylbutan-1-ol
  • Oct-1-en-3-ol
  • 2-Methyl-butan-2-ol
  • Nonan-1-ol
  • Pentan-1-ol
  • Nonan-2-ol
  • Pentan-2-ol Non-1-en-3-ol
  • Pentan-3-ol
  • Decan-1-ol
  • Pent-1-en-3-ol
  • Decan-2-ol
  • Pent-3-en-2-ol
  • Undecan-2-ol
  • Hexan-1-ol
  • Dodecan-1-ol
  • Hexan-2-ol
  • Dodecan-2-ol
  • Hexan-3-ol
  • Tridecan-2-ol
  • trans-Hex-2-en-1-ol
  • Pentadecan-2-ol

Aldehydes

  • Acetaldehyde
  • cis-Hex-3-enal
  • Propanal
  • Hexa-2,4-dienal
  • Propenal
  • Heptanal
  • Butanal
  • Hept-2-enal
  • But-2-enal
  • Oct-2-enal
  • Pentanal
  • Nonanal
  • Pent-2-enal
  • Decanal
  • Hexanal
  • Deca-2,4-dienal
  • trans-Hex-2-enal

Ketones

  • Propanone
  • 4-Hydroxy-4-methyl-pentan-2-one
  • Butanone
  • Hexan-2-one
  • Methylbutanone
  • Heptan-2-one
  • Diacetyl (Butan-2,4-dione)
  • Octan-2-one
  • Pentan-2-one
  • Nonan-2-one
  • Pentan-3-one
  • Decan-2-one
  • Pent-3-en-2-one
  • Undecan-2-one

Esters

  • Methyl formate
  • Ethyl 2-methylbutanoate
  • Ethyl formate
  • Isopropyl 2-methylbutanoate
  • Butyl formate
  • Butyl 2-methylbutanoate
  • 3-Methylbutyl formate
  • 2-Methylpropyl 2-methylbutanoate
  • Hexyl formate
  • 2-Methylbutyl 2-methylbutanoate
  • Methyl acetate
  • 3-Methylbutyl 2-methylbutanoate
  • Ethyl acetate
  • Hexyl 2-methylbutanoate
  • Propyl acetate
  • Octyl 2-methylbutanoate
  • Isopropyl acetate
  • Ethyl 3-methylbutanoate
  • Butyl acetate
  • Butyl 3-methylbutanoate
  • 2-Methylpropyl acetate
  • Methyl 3-hydroxybutanoate
  • 2-Methylbutyl acetate
  • Ethyl 3-oxobutanoate
  • 3-Methylbut-2-enyl acetate
  • Ethyl pentanoate
  • Pentyl acetate
  • Methyl 4-methylpentanoate
  • Isoamyl acetate
  • Methyl hexanoate
  • 1-Methylbutyl acetate
  • Ethyl hexanoate
  • 3-Methylbutyl acetate
  • Butyl hexanoate
  • Pentyl acetate
  • Pentyl hexanoate
  • Hexyl acetate
  • 3-Methylbutyl hexanoate
  • 1-Methylpentyl acetate
  • 1-Methylbutyl hexanoate
  • trans-Hex-2-enyl acetate
  • Hexyl hexanoate
  • cis-Hex-3-enyl acetate
  • Hex-2-enyl hexanoate
  • Hex-1-en-3-yl acetate
  • trans-Hex-3-enyl hexanoate
  • 1-Methylhexyl acetate
  • 1-Methylhexyl hexanoate
  • Hept-1-en-3-yl acetate
  • Octyl hexanoate
  • Octyl acetate
  • Decyl hexanoate
  • Decyl acetate
  • Ethyl trans-hex-2-enoate
  • Methyl propanoate
  • Methyl 3-hydroxyhexanoate
  • Ethyl propanoate
  • Ethyl 3-hydroxyhexanoate
  • cis-Hex-3-enyl propanoate
  • Methyl heptanoate
  • Methyl 1-methyl propanoate
  • Ethyl heptanoate
  • Ethylmethyl propanoate
  • Methyl octanoate
  • Methyl butanoate
  • Ethyl octanoate
  • Ethyl butanoate
  • Isopropyl octanoate
  • Propyl butanoate
  • Butyl octanoate
  • Isopropyl butanoate
  • 3-Methylbutyl octanoate
  • Butyl butanoate
  • Hexyl octanoate
  • 2-Methylpropyl butanoate
  • cis-Hex-3-enyl octanoate
  • Pentyl butanoate
  • Methyl nonanoate
  • 1-Methylbutyl butanoate
  • 2-Methylpropyl nonanoate
  • 3-Methylbutyl butanoate
  • 3-Methylbutyl nonanoate
  • Pent-3-enyl butanoate
  • Methyl decanoate
  • Hexyl butanoate
  • Ethyl decanoate
  • trans-Hex-2-enyl butanoate
  • Isopropyl decanoate
  • cis-Hex-3-enyl butanoate
  • Hexyl decanoate
  • 1-Methylhexyl butanoate
  • Methyl dodecanoate
  • Octyl butanoate
  • Ethyl dodecanoate
  • 1-Methyloctyl butanoate
  • Methyl hexadecanoate
  • Decyl butanoate
  • Methyl octadecanoate
  • Ethyl but-2-enoate
  • Methyl octadec-9-enoate
  • Methyl 2-methylbutanoate
  • Methyl octadeca-9,12,15-trienoate

Lactones

  • γ-Hexalactone
  • δ-Octalactone
  • δ-Hexalactone
  • γ-Decalactone
  • δ-Heptalactone
  • δ-Decalactone
  • γ-Octalactone
  • γ-Dodecalactone

Acetals

  • Dimethoxymethane
  • 1-Butoxy-1-ethoxyethane
  • Diethoxymethane
  • 1-Ethoxy-1-pentoxyethane
  • 1,1-Dimethoxyethane
  • 1-Ethoxy-1-hexoxyethane
  • 1-Ethoxy-1-methoxyethane
  • 1-Ethoxy-1-hex-3-enoxyethane
  • 1-Butoxy-1-methoxyethane
  • 1,1-Dihexoxyethane 17, 18
  • 1-Methoxy-1-pentoxyethane
  • 1,1-Diethoxypentane
  • 1,1-Diethoxyethane
  • 1,1-Diethoxyoctane
  • 1-Ethoxy-1-propoxyethane

Furans

  • 2-Furfural
  • 2,5-Dimethyl-4-hydroxy-2H-furan-3-one
  • 2-Furancarboxylic acid
  • 2,5-Dimethyl-4-methoxy-2H-furan-3-one

Aromatic compounds

  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Benzyl acetate
  • 2-Phenylethanol
  • 2-Phenethyl acetate
  • 2-(4-Hydroxyphenyl)ethanol
  • Methyl salicylate
  • trans-Cinnamyl alcohol
  • Ethyl salicylate
  • Benzaldehyde
  • Methyl cinnamate
  • Acetophenone
  • Ethyl cinnamate
  • Benzoic acid
  • 4-Vinylphenol
  • 4-Methylbenzoic acid
  • 2-Methoxy-4-vinylphenol
  • 2-Hydroxybenzoic acid
  • Eugenol
  • Phenylacetic acid
  • 1-Methylnaphthalene
  • 3-Phenylpropanoic acid
  • 2-Methylnaphthalene
  • trans-Cinnamic acid

Sulphur compounds

  • Methanethiol
  • Methylthiol acetate
  • Ethylthioethane
  • Methylthiol butanoate
  • Ethyldithioethane
  • Dimethyl disulphide

T erpenes

  • Limonene
  • Borneol
  • a-Pinene
  • Isofenchyl alcohol
  • b-Pinene
  • Linalool oxides
  • Linalool
  • a-Ionone
  • Nerolidol
  • b-Ionone
  • a-Terpineol

b-D-Glucopyranosides

  • Benzyl b-D-glucopyranoside
  • 2,5-Dimethyl-4-hydroxy-2H-furan-3-one
  • b-D-glucopyranoside
  • 2-(4-Hydroxyphenyl)-ethyl b-D-glucopyranoside
  • 2,5-Dimethyl-4-hydroxy-2H-furan-3-one
  • 6@O-malonyl-b-D-glucopyranoside

From Zabetakis I., Holden M.A.,, (1997), Strawberry Flavour: Analysis and Biosynthesis, J Sci Food Agric Vol.74, pp421-434

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Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 8:46 pm  Comments (69)  
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69 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks, I’m bookmarking this! I had no idea there were so many compounds in strawberries, but it makes sense when you think of all the things in us.

  2. […] Hayley Stevens wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptA […]

  3. I’m blown away. This would be one hell of a shopping list for ingredients. I’ll stick with the ready-to-eat variety.

  4. […] Posted in Uncategorized If Mother Nature was incarnated in today's world, her wrinkled, battle-scarred old body would be photoshopped within an inch of its life and adorn every food package, beauty product and health item available. It's a common trick of marketing to appear to be nature's ally, relying on the unstated belief that millions of years of gradual evolution is a far safer bet than several decades of tinkering in the lab with a shaved lab rat and glassware fu … Read More […]

  5. […] Leave a Comment » If Mother Nature was incarnated in today's world, her wrinkled, battle-scarred old body would be photoshopped within an inch of its life and adorn every food package, beauty product and health item available. It's a common trick of marketing to appear to be nature's ally, relying on the unstated belief that millions of years of gradual evolution is a far safer bet than several decades of tinkering in the lab with a shaved lab rat and glassware fu … Read More […]

  6. We have a huge strawberry patch, and to think it takes all this to create a strawberry is pretty amazing.

  7. I should be a good scientist…I like this post and I am going to publish it on face book group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=107169412681021

  8. Wow, a strawberry has all that!

  9. Beautiful, complicated, and sooo delectable!

    Thanks for the enlightenment!

    Like, wow!

  10. I could totally eat an entire pint of strawberries right now.

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

  11. Seriously all of that is in a strawberry?? That’s crazy…

  12. Ah! Interesting, interesting! I am sharing this and re-reading it now. Thanks for this.

  13. Thanks for reminding me why I didn’t get into organic chemistry 🙂

  14. So let me get this straight… ALL of that is what makes up a simple little strawberry?

  15. Thank god
    Nature is available for us…..

  16. Well put.

  17. Wrong. You take one part cocaine, one part 13 year old girl, and mix liberally with Roman Polanski in Jack Nicholson’s house.

  18. A very interesting read that will make me think more about the complexities of Mother Nature’s creations.

  19. That’s terrifying- it seems like you’d have to be an organic chemist to understand nutrition. If all that is in a single strawberry, think of the hundreds(thousands?) of compounds in a full meal.

    Mindblowing post!

  20. Pretty cool. Too bad I find that most man-made strawberry scented/flavored things stink or taste horrible (while I like real strawberries). Same goes for watermelon.

  21. This is a beautiful post. To think that the only ingredient in Strawberries is… “Strawberry” is ridiculous.

    Not to say that there isn’t some serious garbage foods out there… So the best thing is to stay knowledgeable about what you ingest 🙂

  22. Hmm, interesting. How about a lemon? Or Kiwi?

  23. Hahaha! That’s a good one. So right, we allow ourselves to be so easily swayed by popular thinking that we sometimes stop to think for ourselves. Thanks for showing that common sense is still alive in some places.

  24. What an awesome post! Thank you so much for allowing me to look like the smartest person in the room through no effort on my part. Oh, also congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I’m hitting ‘subscribe’

  25. I am sooooo gonna give this a try!!!! awesome, I love new cooking challenges 🙂 hahaha!

  26. […] If Mother Nature was incarnated in today's world, her wrinkled, battle-scarred old body would be photoshopped within an inch of its life and adorn every food package, beauty product and health item available. It's a common trick of marketing to appear to be nature's ally, relying on the unstated belief that millions of years of gradual evolution is a far safer bet than several decades of tinkering in the lab with a shaved lab rat and glassware fu … Read More […]

  27. No matter how many names are on that list and no matter how they sound,

    a natural, organic strawberry will always be ten times better, more tasty and more healthy than a processed product that has more than seven ingredients.

  28. No wonder they’re so tasty, I thought they were made out of “delicious” and some annoying seeds…

  29. By far, the best food blog I’ve ever read. Thanks for the dose of knowledge. I feel like carrying a printout in my back pocket and shoving it in the face of my friend next time she frowns at my foodchoice… except I’m sure it won’t sway her thinking that my cheetohs are actually healthfood. Still. Great blog! 🙂

  30. wwwoowww cool 😉 thanks im serching that.

  31. This blows my mind…
    Interesting to know that so much goes into one sweet, little berry!
    It’s also funny, just the other day I was looking at an ingredient list on something I wanted to buy, but put it back because I had no clue what half of the words listed meant. Going by that judgement I made, I probably shouldn’t buy strawberries anymore hahahaha

  32. @wadingacross – the reason strawberry-flavored stuff (and coffee-flavored stuff) doesn’t taste right is because no one can figure out the right mix of the important chemicals to mimic. Bananas on the other hand, take only a smidgin of isoamyl acetate and you’re all in business. My mother was a strawberry lover, too, and hated strawberry-flavored anything. Same goes for cherries with my kids. NO wait – they like cherry-flavored stuff, but not cherries 😦

    This blog WILL be posted on my office door, and used in my lectures on “the dose makes the poison” (or exposure vs. overexposure).

  33. Woweeeee, all that in a strawberry???!!! Who knew … certainly not me until I read this! Wow, this is mind blowing!

  34. […] If Mother Nature was incarnated in today's world, her wrinkled, battle-scarred old body would be photoshopped within an inch of its life and adorn every food package, beauty product and health item available. It's a common trick of marketing to appear to be nature's ally, relying on the unstated belief that millions of years of gradual evolution is a far safer bet than several decades of tinkering in the lab with a shaved lab rat and glassware fu … Read More […]

  35. I could totally eat an entire pint of strawberries!
    he2!

  36. i am very conflicted in the comment that i want to make because i have an advertising degree (i agree with what you said about marketing) and i am in nursing school (i am not afraid of those big words) but i do know that i want to comment.

    i will say that i always opted to memorize the trade names rather than the generic names of drugs for my classes. methergine is much more memory-friendly than methylergometrine =o)

  37. I am just wondering about a single strawberry contains hundreds of acids and glucose! God is great!

  38. Nice post. I think the thing we really need concern ourselves with are the things that go by a chemical name because that’s all they are. Naturally, an organic chemist may see a strawberry (indeed any food) as all those things you listed, but they don’t tell the whole story, as you hinted. But if you are reading a package in a store, chemicals usually denote artificial sweeteners, colorings, flavorings, and preservatives.

    While it’s important to remember that it’s “the dose that maketh the poison,” we also need to be aware of why it’s there in the first place.

  39. strawberry swing!
    by Coldplay:

    keep it green!

    http://www.MyTree.TV

  40. […] If Mother Nature was incarnated in today's world, her wrinkled, battle-scarred old body would be photoshopped within an inch of its life and adorn every food package, beauty product and health item available. It's a common trick of marketing to appear to be nature's ally, relying on the unstated belief that millions of years of gradual evolution is a far safer bet than several decades of tinkering in the lab with a shaved lab rat and glassware fu … Read More […]

  41. […] How to make a strawberry Posted on October 18, 2010 by Diggs Concepts If Mother Nature was incarnated in today's world, her wrinkled, battle-scarred old body would be photoshopped within an inch of its life and adorn every food package, beauty product and health item available. It's a common trick of marketing to appear to be nature's ally, relying on the unstated belief that millions of years of gradual evolution is a far safer bet than several decades of tinkering in the lab with a shaved lab rat and glassware fu … Read More […]

  42. WOW, complexity in simplicity of nature is crucial.

  43. Holly Molly!! that’s purely woooww!

  44. Interesting, no wonder strawberries are one of the best gifts of nature !!

  45. Well, that must be why strawberries taste so good. Now I feel I shouldn’t feel bad for paying $3.75 for a punnet.

  46. soooooooooo long list.
    Ilike strawberry~ 🙂

  47. waw………..wonderful

  48. I work on a strawberry farm – it’s much easier just picking them off the plant 😉 Interesting post though.

  49. Finally! I find some cool proof to stop this stupid “healthy food” thing… Danke Auf! 🙂

  50. @OAS – listing the naturally occurring chemical components that make a strawberry does nothing to act as “proof” as you say to debunk facts about artificial additives being harmful to a persons health

  51. Hehe nice! When I was a student, we had to make a chemical substance with banana flavour for a chemistry assigment at the university. I guess bananas are a simple kind of fruit when you compare them to strawberries 😉 good thing they didn’t ask us to make that!

  52. Wow! I’ve tried to grow some but the birds eat them before I can get them fully ready. 😦
    http://lonestargayle.wordpress.com

  53. Yes – strawberries are made up of chemical compounds.

    Yes – TV dinners and fritos are made up of chemical compounds.

    But – some of those compounds are naturally occuring. Homo Sapien hasn’t encountered many of these compounds before 1950. Some of these compounds are petroleum-derivatives. It’s not that they’re chemicals, everything is chemicals, it’s that we haven’t evolved to eat petroleum-based whipped cream like Cool Whip. We infuse everything with corn-based derivatives designed to sweeten and prolong shelf life to the point where we’re eating more corn and more sugar in a smaller package than ever before. When HFCS is found in burgers and ketchup, it’s difficult to say “well, everything in moderation” because you’re getting sugars from non-sugary foods.

    I think this is a terribly reductive look at food, especially considering we still don’t understand the complex interactions between these chemicals (remember beta-carotene?). To imply that you could simply dump chemicals in a bowl and just as easily produce an oreo as a strawberry is misleading, at best.

    It should give us pause when a commenter says things like “Finally! I find some cool proof to stop this stupid ‘healthy food’ thing…”.

  54. I want some strawberry shortcake now.

  55. You seem a chemist much than a blogger . hehehee

  56. Perhaps nature’s way of saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t try and chemically recreate it. ‘Cause you can’t” ?

  57. Loved this post. My question: How big a library would be needed to house each volume of work identifying the chemical components of all life on this planet?

    Think about that one for a minute and then stand in awe of nature and how smart she is, especially when only cloned examples are identical.

    Claudsy

  58. I read a lot of comments on how complicated strawberries are. Broken down like this just proves exactly how much work God puts into even the littlest thing!

    Tyler F. Long
    Dunwoody Norcross GA

  59. Wow! That is simultaneously fascinating and scary. I volunteer in a community garden and as I was planting seeds today I thought about how amazing it was that nature takes these tiny balls of nutrients and creates such a diversity of complex flavors! Thanks for the post.

    http://hannahnelson.wordpress.com/

  60. […] How to make a strawberry (via The Tribal Scientist) October 20, 2010 // 0 If Mother Nature was incarnated in today's world, her wrinkled, battle-scarred old body would be photoshopped within an inch of its life and adorn every food package, beauty product and health item available. It's a common trick of marketing to appear to be nature's ally, relying on the unstated belief that millions of years of gradual evolution is a far safer bet than several decades of tinkering in the lab with a shaved lab rat and glassware fu … Read More […]

  61. Pretty cool, indeed! 🙂

  62. […] via How to make a strawberry « The Tribal Scientist. […]

  63. Why people don’t just stick to the natural food, then, is beyond me. Now explain where they get “grape” flavor from because I’m pretty sure I have never eaten a grape-flavored thing in my life that has actually tasted like a real grape 😦

  64. I was reminded of this post when I found one of those fast-food packets of salt the other day from Sonic. Ingredients: Salt, Yellow Prussiate of Soda.
    Never thought salt would have more than salt in it, but we add iodine and iron to our salt all the time, so why was I surprised?
    I like your point – I do wish, though, that food labels didn’t need a chemistry degree to be unraveled sometimes. An impartial guide to some of the more obscure ingredients would be welcome on some of my shopping trips.

  65. […] I found such remarks on another blog, “The Tribal Scientist”, where the author posts a list of chemical compounds found in a strawberry. “Next time somebody raises their eyes at the ingredients on a food packet and claims it looks […]

  66. EXCELLENT POST – keep on blogging!

  67. So what if the list is long enough to get one into Hell. I’m a sucker for anything strawberry!!!

  68. I was just researching the volatile compounds in a strawberry when I stumbled across this. I really like this post. Thanks for sharing. I think we were thinking along the same lines, actually… http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com

  69. Reblogged this on Laura Marguerite Rudderham.


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