Feel that chill in the air? must be Fall, and also with the change in seasons comes the recent food craze: pumpkin spice. Now, ns hardly the first person to notice this.

You are watching: What does a pumpkin smell like

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Feel that chill in the air? have to be Fall, and also with the adjust in periods comes the recent food craze: pumpkin spice.

Now, i’m hardly the an initial person to an alert this. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Salon have all newly weighed in on the farming flavor mania.*

Alas, most pieces set pumpkin-flavored goodies up as a file tiger, just to tear down how aromatic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, anise, ginger, mace, vanilla, or cloves room truly responsible for their comforting fragrant (if you’d favor to know a little bit an ext about the similarities in between some of these spices, examine out this NBC find out animation).

So, heat spices aside, i wondered: what go pumpkin odor like, all by itself?

You probably recognize pumpkin (genus Cucurbita), a gourd with dense orange-yellow flesh and also a hard outside rind, for its traditional function in pies. V fibers and sugars comparable to those in sweet potatoes, pumpkin find itself roasted, stewed, or used as a starter strength for a variety of autumn ales.

When I very first started digging right into the literature to uncover pumpkins’ indigenous scents, ns figured they’d contain mainly 9-carbon alcohols referred to as nonanols - I functioned with similar compounds in graduate school, and my colleagues called me “Mr. Pumpkin” for whole month. Researchers at General foods items Corp. (NY) writer this 1981 American Chemical culture symposium series, describe that other Cucurbita, choose the muskmelon and also cucumber, exude high levels of volatile nonane compounds. Walk pumpkins play along? To explore further, the scientists extracted and distilled the flavors from both fresh and also canned fruit.

Let’s talk around six

For pumpkins, much shorter chains apparently rule the day. When you first slice into one, keep in mind the clingy, vegetal odor. That’s major aroma ingredient cis-3-hexenol, a six-carbon compound additionally known together ‘leaf alcohol." Close chemical cousins n-hexanol and 2-hexenal round the end the height 3 smells, according to the authors. An alert a buttery undertone? Diacetyl, the odor behind movie-theater butter (and the commercial medical condition “popcorn lung”) occurs normally in pumpkin. Therefore does pyridine, a typical laboratory solvent usually associated with lingering fishy smells.

Interestingly, the file completely changes when we consider pumpkin puree, the canned orange pulp often used as a pie base. As result of heat processing, the odor palette now has a malty, burnt note native 2-methyl-butanal, along with much much more pyridine odor and furfural, a sugar decomposition product smell of grain and sawdust. The authors keep in mind that "virtually every one of the six-carbon aldehydes and also alcohols...have been lost." canned pumpkin smell tastes markedly different from the fresh stuff.

Does one of two people of these flavor profiles enhance the “spice” flavoring on that latte? most likely not. In fact, just last month the Boston company Journal coaxed a flavor chemist right into confessing that the vaunted Starbucks pumpkin summer sprouts latte likely consisted of no really pumpkin flavor. An excellent luck obtaining them to admit anything more; fragrance-makers closely guard their formulations as profession secrets.

Readers, have the right to you smell any “real” pumpkin in the multitude of brand-new pumpkin freckles food products? If anyone v a keen nose (or a gas chromatograph) desires to try, I’d be interested come know.

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*Here’s a partial list of every the pumpkin spice-flavored items ns came throughout while researching this post: waffles, lattes, teas, bagels, e-cigarettes, donuts, coffees, K-cups, wait fresheners, muffins, toaster pastries, potato chips, M&Ms, cookies, warm chocolate, steaks, soy milk, soups, beer, ice cream, cream cheese, butter, pancakes, milkshakes, yogurt, marshmallows, vodka, dog food, egg nog, granola, milk, breads, whiskey, biscotti, cereal, cheesecake, creamers, crepes, syrups, salsa, and also (of course)…pie.

The see expressed are those the the author(s) and are no necessarily those of scientific American.



See Arr five is a medicinal chemist working in industry. Watch Arr oh tennis2007.org at similar to Cooking and also contributes to several other tennis2007.org, including Chemjobber, completely Synthetic, and main Science"s The Haystack and NewscriptsFollow view Arr oh on Twitter