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So, in my local supermarket, I stumbled upon these bags of "Wiltshire Cured Ham, Mature Cheddar and Farmhouse Chutney" flavoured crisps (a.o.) and inquisitive as I am I couldn't help myself but to try them out and discover what glorious tastes these produced.

Lo and behold my surprise when they turned out to taste just like many others on this list of flavours. I tried my best, closing my eyes, looking for a hint of cured ham, maybe a vague sense of cheddar, but as hard as I tried, I couldn't make out anything remotely close to it.

Hence my question, how do they make such flavourings?

Yes, here's the list of ingredients:

Ingredients:

Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Wiltshire Cured Ham and Mature Cheddar with Farmhouse Chutney Seasoning [Contains: Sugar, Salt, Natural Flavourings, West Country Mature Cheddar Powder (from Milk), Fruit Powders, Spices, Dried Milk Whey, Parsley, Acid (Citric Acid), Wiltshire Cured British Ham Powder, Colour (Paprika Extract), Vinegar Powder.

But, my point is, apart from there being no "chutney" in there at all, for example, how do people come up with this? Do they boil down a Wiltshire cured ham and dry the slurry to a powder? And what about the cheese? Was it cheese in the first place? And who comes up with this? Is there some cook who says: "Hmmm, this sure is a tasty dish here on my plate, how about I take those chips (fries) and add the rest of the meal to it as a flavour!" and who then goes out and 'distills' the rest of the meal?

I know that "beef extract", which you can find as an ingredient sometimes, is actually boiled down and dried cow, but how about this?

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    They chutney part would be the sugar, fruit powders, spices and vinegar powder. – Ross Ridge Aug 17 '15 at 2:09
  • There are many questions listed in this post; it might help to separate them into different questions, or focus your list to one of the topics you've queried about (namely "how do they come up with this flavor" (i.e. creative process) and "how do they execute this" (i.e. technical process)) – acidnbass Dec 19 '16 at 20:09
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There is no one answer, as each manufacturer has different processes

Most flavours are simple esters, acids, and salts that mimic the main flavour notes of the food being replicated. Some high quality chips will use actual freeze dried powders made from the actual food

e.g.

Ham powder = the good stuff is freeze dried and then powdered real ham, the other stuff is just fat, smoke, and maybe some chemical esters

Fruit powder = either just the essential chemical ester that denote the fruit, or actual freeze dried fruits. A little freeze dried fruit goes a long way

Cheese powder = spray dried melted cheese, a similar process to how milk powder is made. It's basically cheese with no water

Vinegar powder = acetic acid powder. Vinegar is mostly a ~5% solution of acetic acid, and acetic acid is a common and cheap chemical used in the plastics and glue industries

Chilli or Paprika = capsaicin oil, either naturally extracted, or chemically made, one drop goes a very long way

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ester

Chip flavours are just "invented" like every thing else. The chips invention is more interesting, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Crum

  • Farmhouse Chutney: stonewallkitchen.com/shop/speciality-foods/chutneys/130802.html I had no idea. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 16 '15 at 0:50
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    acetic acid can be powder only below its melting point which is 16°C – Eugene Petrov Aug 16 '15 at 3:07
  • @Eugene Petrov Commercial acetic acid is called Glacial acetic acid, it is shipped in water tight drums (25 Kg typically) as it is extremely hygroscopic. It is easier to spray onto crisps if kept in powder form. You only need a small amount (around 50 mg) to flavour a whole bag of crisps – TFD Aug 16 '15 at 23:35
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    @TFD in case of acetic acid "glacial"="almost absolute" and it's liquid under normal conditions. To make flavoring they use maltodextrin as a carrier for vinegar(not only acetic acid, but also apple/wine flavor), look at ingredients section for example. – Eugene Petrov Aug 17 '15 at 0:09
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    @Eugene Petrov I have seen it in powder form! Not in the industry, so may have been mistaken? For a strong vinegar powder as in "salt and vinegar" crisps, a more popular choice is sodium acetate, which is the result of a basic baking soda and vinegar reaction, which you can make at home from the dried crystals of that reaction – TFD Aug 17 '15 at 0:45

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