The Enzymatic Release of Aroma and Flavour Chemicals

The enzymatic release of aroma and flavour chemicals is a fascinating process that plays a crucial role in the development of flavors and fragrances in various food and non-food products. Enzymes, as biocatalysts, facilitate the release of volatile compounds responsible for the characteristic aromas and flavors in natural sources. This enzymatic process has gained significant interest in industries such as food, beverage, perfume, and cosmetics due to its potential to produce high-quality and natural aroma compounds. In this discussion, we will explore the mechanisms, applications, and benefits of enzymatic release of aroma chemicals.

Mechanisms of Enzymatic Release of Aroma Chemicals

Enzymatic release of aroma chemicals involves the hydrolysis of glycosidic bonds or ester linkages present in precursor compounds. These precursor compounds are typically non-volatile, odorless, and less perceptible in their natural state. They are commonly found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and other botanical sources. Enzymes, such as glycosidases and esterases, act on these precursor compounds, breaking the chemical bonds and releasing volatile aroma compounds. Once released, these volatile compounds contribute to the characteristic aroma and flavor profiles of the natural sources.

For example, glycosidases break glycosidic bonds between a sugar molecule and an aglycone (a non-sugar component), resulting in the release of the aglycone, which is usually an aromatic compound responsible for the characteristic aroma of the substrate.

Mechanisms of Enzymatic Release of Aroma and Flavor Chemicals

The enzymatic release of aroma and flavor chemicals involves the hydrolysis of specific chemical bonds in precursor compounds found in natural sources. Enzymes such as glycosidases, lipases, esterases, and proteases play key roles in this process.

  1. Glycosidases: Glycosidases break glycosidic bonds between a sugar molecule and an aglycone (the non-sugar component). This process releases volatile compounds that are responsible for the characteristic aromas and flavors of the natural substrate.
  2. Lipases: Lipases catalyze the hydrolysis of ester bonds found in fatty acids and glycerides, releasing volatile compounds with fatty or lipidic aromas and flavors.
  3. Esterases: Esterases target ester bonds, breaking them down to release volatile compounds with fruity, floral, or herbal aromas and flavors.
  4. Proteases: Proteases break down proteins into smaller peptides and amino acids. These products may contribute to savory, umami, or meaty flavors.

Applications of Enzymatic Release of Aroma Chemicals

Flavour and Fragrance Industries

Enzymatic release of aroma chemicals is extensively employed in the flavor and fragrance industries to produce natural flavor compounds and essential oils. By utilizing enzymes, manufacturers can extract volatile compounds from natural sources, creating authentic and appealing flavors and fragrances for various products.

Food and Beverage Production

In the food industry, enzymatic release of aroma chemicals is employed to enhance the flavors of products such as juices, wines, and teas. This process helps to unlock and preserve the volatile compounds present in fruits, herbs, and spices, providing consumers with natural and aromatic products.

Aroma Recovery

In certain food processing applications, aroma compounds can be lost during thermal processing. Enzymatic release can be used to recover and restore these lost aromas, contributing to improved product quality and sensory appeal.

Natural Ingredient Production

The enzymatic extraction of aroma chemicals from natural sources is highly valued in the production of natural ingredients for use in cosmetics, foods, personal care products, and perfumes (Liang et al., 2022).

The fruit processing industry has benefitted from enhanced aroma release from glycosidically bound precursors using glycosidases to catalyse their release. Wine production in particular has benefitted this approach using both acidic and enzymic hydrolysis during various phases of grape processing such as crushing, fermentation and storage (Teranishi et al., 1992).

The generation of further aromas has become a commercially important consideration. Producers of pectinases incorporate some glycosidases to improve not only juice yields but also improved quality in the juices they generate.

Benefits of Enzymatic Release of Aroma Chemicals

Authenticity and Naturalness

Enzymatic release of aroma chemicals allows for the production of flavors and fragrances that closely resemble the natural source. As a result, products formulated with enzymatically released aromas are perceived as more authentic and natural by consumers.


Enzymes can exhibit high selectivity towards specific precursor compounds, enabling manufacturers to target and extract particular aroma compounds of interest, tailoring the flavor or fragrance profile to specific requirements.

Mild Processing Conditions

The enzymatic release of aroma chemicals typically occurs under mild processing conditions, such as moderate temperatures and neutral pH, which helps preserve the delicate and sensitive nature of the aroma compounds.

Environmentally Friendly

Enzymatic processes are often considered more environmentally friendly compared to traditional chemical methods. They generally produce fewer waste products and consume less energy, aligning with the principles of sustainable and green chemistry.

Sustainability and Naturalness

Enzymatic release aligns with the growing demand for sustainable and natural products. It reduces the need for harsh chemical solvents and processes, contributing to greener and more environmentally friendly manufacturing practices.

In conclusion, the enzymatic release of aroma chemicals is a valuable technique that allows for the extraction and enhancement of natural flavors and fragrances from various sources. With its authenticity, selectivity, and mild processing conditions, this approach has found widespread applications in the food, beverage, perfume, and cosmetics industries. As consumer demand for natural and high-quality products continues to grow, the enzymatic release of aroma chemicals will likely play an even more significant role in shaping the future of flavor and fragrance development.


Barros‐Castillo, J. C., Calderón‐Santoyo, M., Cuevas‐Glory, L. F., Calderón‐Chiu, C., & Ragazzo‐Sánchez, J. A. (2023). Contribution of glycosidically bound compounds to aroma potential of jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus lam). Flavour and Fragrance Journal38(3), pp. 193-203

Liang, Z., Fang, Z., Pai, A., Luo, J., Gan, R., Gao, Y., … & Zhang, P. (2022). Glycosidically bound aroma precursors in fruits: A comprehensive review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition62(1), pp. 215-243

Teranishi, R.Takeoka, G. and Güntert, M. (1992Flavor precursors: thermal and enzymatic conversions. ACS Symposium Series No. 490 (American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, USA). 

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