Ginseng is not widely accepted by U.S. consumers due to its unfamiliar flavors, despite its numerous health benefits. Previous studies have suggested that the bitter compounds in chocolate and coffee may mask the off-flavors of ginseng. The objectives of this study were to: (1) profile sensory characteristics of ginseng extract solution, caffeine solution, cyclo (L-Pro-L-Val) solution, theobromine solution, and 2 model solutions simulating chocolate bitterness; and (2) determine the changes in the sensory characteristics of ginseng extract solution by the addition of the bitter compounds found in chocolate and coffee. Thirteen solutions were prepared in concentrations similar to the levels of the bitter compounds found in coffee and chocolate products. Twelve panelists participated in a descriptive analysis panel which included time-intensity ratings. Ginseng extract was characterized as sweeter, starchier, and more green tea than the other sample solutions. Those characteristics of ginseng extract were effectively modified by the addition of caffeine, cyclo (L-Pro-L-Val), and 2 model solutions. A model solution simulating dark chocolate bitterness was the least influenced in intensities of bitterness by the addition of ginseng extract. Results from time-intensity ratings show that the addition of ginseng extract increased duration time in certain bitterness of the 2 model solutions. Bitter compounds found in dark chocolate could be proposed to effectively mask the unique flavors of ginseng. Future studies blending aroma compounds of chocolate and coffee into such model solutions may be conducted to investigate the influence on the perception of the unique flavors through the congruent flavors.
© 2012 Institute of Food Technologists®