Flavors, Extracts and Powders, Oh My!

In the food, beverage, baking and ice cream world, recipes often reign supreme. They’re carefully crafted, line-by-line guides to some of the most delectable products.

But what if a recipe could be better? What if it could make a good flavor become a standout flavor? What if you want to make a remix of a recipe? Or, what if you have a brilliant idea for a brand new, taste-bud dancing product?

Any avenue you’re currently staring down, you’re going to need the best ingredients, and you’re definitely going to need some keynote flavors to not only make your finished product come alive, but to also make those taste-testing customers raving fans.

When it comes to formulas and flavors, it all starts by knowing the difference between extracts, flavorings and powders. Once you know which one is best for your application – and which one will deliver the flavor potency you desire – you can begin to craft your masterpiece.

Flavors vs. Extracts vs. Powders

As you well know, there is no shortage of flavors to choose from – and flavor chemists continue to experiment and create one-of-a-kind flavors that allow for more unique products and flavor combinations.

So, why is it so important to know the difference between extract, flavoring and powder?

It all depends on the preferred:

Color. What do you need your finished product to look like? Do you need it clear or can it have color?
Taste. Do you want to give a flavor a starring role or a supporting one?
Application. Are you creating an oil-soluble application? A water-soluble application?
Heat stability. Will you be cooking, baking, or mixing at a high heat?
Cold temperatures. Are you making ice cream, beer or wine?

    Here are the primary differences between three of the main flavor methods:

    The Difference Between Flavors, Extracts and Powders

    Flavor Concentrates

    Great for: Baking, Beverages, Ice Cream, More

    Following the same process as a flavor extract, flavor concentrates take the oils a step further and mix with an emulsifier – a mixture of two or more liquids that are usually unmixable – like a gum acacia or gum arabic.

    The lemon oil droplets, for example, cling to the gum. When this happens, it’s very difficult to break the emulsion.

    Because of this, flavor concentrates can be stronger and hold flavor longer than an extract and are better at maintaining the character of the flavor. Flavors give drinks and food excellent, subtle flavor notes.

    Good to Know

    Flavor Concentrates:

    • Are slightly cloudy liquids
    • Are less highly concentrated
    • Are water or oil soluble -based
    • Have a high heat stability
    • Include no added sweeteners


    Great for: Candy, hard tack candy, brittle, gummies

    Extracts are made by pressing or extracting the flavor of the source ingredient into a liquid base. This base is usually alcohol.*

    Let’s take a lemon, for example. To get lemon extract, all the different oils from the lemon are pressed out – using the entire lemon and lemon peel.

    The purpose of placing the lemon oil in a liquid base for an extended period of time, like alcohol and water, is to get rid of the lemon’s sour essence (terpenes and waxes) and capture the fresh, clean citric flavor.

    Extracts are great for playing a supporting flavor role in your application, rather than standing out as the main flavor.

    Good to Know


    • Are highly concentrated
    • Are suspended in a water or alcohol base
    • Have a high heat stability

    *Flavors don’t have to be suspended in alcohol. In fact, water-soluble and oil-soluble base suspensions are more neutral, superior carriers to alcohol.

    They impart no added flavor and do not evaporate as rapidly when exposed to heat. This allows the flavor to taste better, smell better, and not "bake-out" – as a traditional alcohol-based extract does.

    Flavor Powders

    Great for: Baking, Beverages, Dry Food Applications

    Flavor powders are arguably the oldest flavoring agents. While many other flavoring methods have substituted for powders in today’s recipes and formulas, flavor powders are still great – and necessary – for a powder-heavy formulation that must produce a dry, finished product – such as certain baking applications, dry mixes and rubs, and beverage mixes, like protein powders, smoothies, shakes, and others.

    Flavor powders are excellent at quickly dissolving in water, making them the best choice for instant dry mixes.

    Good to Know

    Flavor Powders:

    • Have a high heat stability
    • Are highly concentrated
    • Are water-soluble
    • Include no added sweeteners

    The Most Versatile Flavors Suitable for a Wide Range of Diets and Lifestyles

    Formulated to be stronger and more versatile than other flavoring methods, and suitable for almost any application – whether cooking, beverages, baking, or ice cream – Bickford Flavors can give your product the exact flavor consistency it needs.

    All-natural, certified Kosher, and backed by our very own 100-year-old formulas, we have more than 200 flavorings and extracts that align with special diets and lifestyles.

    Since we suspend our flavors in either a water-soluble or oil-soluble base, they taste better, smell better, and hold their flavor longer.

    We service:

    • Restaurants
    • Caterers
    • Gourmet retailers
    • Health food stores
    • Wholesalers
    • Many fine-food manufacturers
    • Recognized chefs & bakers
    • Beverage manufacturers
    • Special diet programs
    • Co-Packers

    Need a custom flavor? That’s where we excel! We work one-on-one with many clients to custom-make flavors that meet their individual needs. Through these partnerships, we are extremely fortunate to watch their businesses grow and be able to grow with them.

    Give our bottles of natural goodness a try for yourself and flavor the sweetness of life.

    Learn more about Bickford Flavors:

    Visit our FAQ page

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