I am anosmic (do not have a sense of smell) and therefore am reduced in my perception of flavours to the flavours my tongue can detect, every time I zest a citrus fruit I always hear everyone talk of the smells released and how full of lovely flavours they are, however when I asked them what the distinct flavour each zest gives off I am generally given vague answers that don't help me much, such as

"Orange is generally a full flavour with sweetness, lemons is sharp and lime is sharp and sour"

The reason for asking this question is as a follow up from my previous question on homemade lemonade flavour enhancing, I would like to know what (if any) is the difference in flavour released by the essential oils within the zest of different citrus fruits (lemon, lime and orange). So maybe phrasing it in terms of what flavours they enhance within a lemonade may help hone your answer to my goal of balancing my lemonade even further; though I will probably find it super useful for the rest of my cooking.

2 Answers 2


If you can't taste it, but others can, chemical composition of the essential oils might prove a useful guide for you.

Ingredients of Orange, Lemon and Lime oils:

First line shows components common to two or more of the fruits. Second line shows components unique to each fruit.

lemon oil

a-pinene, b-pinene, myrcene, limonene, linalool, sabinene, neral

camphene, a-terpinene, b-bisabolene, trans-a-bergamotene, nerol


Lime oil

a-pinene, b-pinene, myrcene, limonene, linalool,

terpinolene, 1,8-ceneole, borneol, citral and traces of neral acetate and geranyl acetate. ––––––––––––––––––––––––

orange oil

a-pinene, myrcene, limonene, linalool, sabinene, neral

citronellal, gerania


Looking up the flavors of the unique ingredients should provide a better, more useful answer than "full flavour with sweetness" or "sharp and sour". Looks like the Handbook of Fruit and Vegetable Flavors would be a good place to find this information, but it's a bit on the pricey side.

  • 2
    I like how many answers on Seasoned Advice go in to chemical depth, and I sometimes wonder if I just suck at chemistry or everybody else is a chemist. The problem I have with these answers is that they refer to an outside source for some chemical compound to avoid using words like "full of flavor with sweetness" and "sharp and sour", only to find that the description found in the links to those compounds uses more or less the same words to describe it. For "terpinolene" in the example above: "Carrot top, terpene like, green, earthy, fruity, citrus-like, spicy, woody, sweet". Commented May 31, 2015 at 17:07
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    "trans-a-bergamotene": kind of like Earl grey tea.... In this particular question, we'd have come up with such descriptions for 13 different compounds. I think the resulting answer would be unwieldy, and pretty tough for most to read. That's why I went for the general ref. As you suspect most people are not chemists, but that doesn't stop anyone from asking questions that have answers involving chemistry. Commented May 31, 2015 at 17:35
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    True, very true. And I tend to like the answers, if only to increase knowledge :) Commented May 31, 2015 at 17:51
  • Hi all and thank you for your contribution @WayfaringStranger, I was hoping to go down the chemistry road and you have given me the information to jump start my investigation down that path. Being a scientist I always like to stop and consider chemistry, though often many aspects are beyond my current field of knowledge upon discovery. I will definitely have a read of that handbook as I get really into why flavours taste the way they do if treated a certain way rather than another. Are you a food scientist perchance? Just curious :)
    – Fiztban
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 9:57
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    @Fiztban: 25 years doing protein and steroid Biochemistry. The techniques creep into your approach to cooking. Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 10:56

Unfortunately, flavor is extremely difficult to describe; generally making comparisons is about the best we can do. Your quote is pretty good at describing the differences, certainly better than I could do.

Of course, if you're making lemonade for yourself the only person you have to please is yourself. If you're making lemonade to share, then I recommend the scientific approach. Accuracy in this kind of thing requires a gram scale. You can get an excellent gram scale on Amazon, reasonably accurate to the .01 gram, for under $20. A tube of disposable 2 ounce portion cups can be found on Amazon, Sam's Club, or any restaurant supply place. Those or a box of Dixie cups can hold identical product for as many people as are tasting. Conveniently, you can use a Sharpie to keep track of what cup has what lemonade.

Be sure that you're only including the colored part of the peel, the pith of all citrus fruits is bitter - beyond what most people can enjoy.

Consider various sweeteners, extracts, flavor oils and salt as well, to achieve your ultimate lemonade.

  • Hi and thanks for your answer, I am a scientist by profession so that was going to be my next step :), it's a shame that for me to miss a sense seems that I miss out on so much info that is even hard to put in words. It is true that ultimately I am the only judge of my own product when its for myself, but I also like to cook for others, and though I use spices and aromas that I know work together the taste enhancement i benefit from is often very small while for friends who eat it I often get told of the depth of flavour i can produce. I just want to learn what equates to what result really.
    – Fiztban
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 11:59
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    @Fiztban This is related, it's pretty much a description of how I did a very similar thing. In this case there was no sensory challenge, just one person with an experienced palate and one without. cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/7346/…. Another answer to the same question recommends the book Taste What You're Missing
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 12:15
  • Sorry for the delay in replying, thank you for your suggestion, the book looks like an interesting read and worth checking out, something to read once my thesis is out the way. I guess the approach of taste comparison between lemonades is something worth doing, though it requires a bit more planning as some lemons taste different from each other (to me) I am very sensitive to taste having been my only flavour detecting sense since birth. I will most likely try to work on a way of extracting the flavour out of comparable masses of clean zest, it's the root rather than the final flavour I want.
    – Fiztban
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 9:52

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