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  • Writer's pictureAmritesh Brady

A Comprehensive Intro Guide on Primal Essence Extracts

What is an extract, anyway? Explore the power of extracts and learn what they are, how we get them, and how they can serve as a perfect ingredient solution for your needs in the Food & Beverage Industry

dropper of spearmint oil over a small glass container, spearmint leaves in background
Spearmint Oil & Spearmint Leaves
 

What is an Extract?


To extract something means: to draw forth, to take, to pull out, to withdraw, or to separate.  Extracting specific compounds from natural sources, such as plants, fruits, or herbs, is to draw the flavors, colors, or nutritional components out from the origin. The concentrated product that results from an extraction are typically liquids, oils, or oleoresins, which we refer to as extracts. These extracts can then be used in a wide range of applications, such as food, beverages, fragrances, medicine, supplements, and more.

Another way of understanding extracts is to think of your hot cup of coffee. When you use heat and water to extract the flavor and caffeine from ground coffee beans, you're making your own coffee extract. Making an espresso is a more advanced way of extracting the same coffee beans, by using pressure and heat to extract a higher concentration of caffeine, aroma, and coffee flavor. Both drinks are made from extracting the same raw material, but the difference in extraction methods creates different drinks.

The extraction methods used in food ingredients are generally focused on maximizing purity while minimizing any negative effects on the properties of the extracted compounds. This means that certain extraction methods are objectively better for human consumption due to minimizing potential exposure to harmful chemicals, solvents, or unwanted byproducts. Other extraction methods place an emphasis on retaining phytonutrients, or healthy plant compounds, that can provide real health benefits to us when we ingest them.

 

Extraction Methods


There are several extraction methods used to extract compounds from herbs, spices, fruits, and other natural sources for food and beverage end-use applications. Here are some of the most common methods:


Solvent Extraction


Solvent extraction uses an organic solvent, such as ethanol, methanol, or hexane, to extract the desired compounds from the plant material. Solvent extraction is commonly used to extract lipids, essential oils, and other compounds.


+  Pros

  • High yield extractions

  • Can be used to extract a wide range of compounds

  • Suitable for large scale production


-  Cons

  • The use of solvents can leave behind residues and chemicals

  • Negatively affects the taste and quality of the extracted compounds

  • Solvent extraction can be hazardous and requires careful handling and disposal

 

Cold Press Extraction


Cold press extraction is used to extract edible oils from plant material, such as seeds and fruits. This method uses a mechanical press to extract the oil without the use of heat or solvents.


+ Pros:


  • Retains the natural flavor and nutrients of the plant material

  • Does not require the use of solvents or high heat, which can preserve the quality of the extracted oil

  • The process is simple and cost-effective


- Cons:


  • Yield of oil may be lower than other methods of extraction

  • Not suitable for all types of plant material, such as those with low oil content

 

Supercritical Fluid CO2 Extraction


Supercritical fluid CO2 extraction is a method that uses carbon dioxide in its supercritical state as a solvent to extract essential oils, oleoresins, resins, flavors, and other compounds from plant material. The process involves using high pressure and low temperature to convert the CO2 into a supercritical fluid.


+ Pros:


  • Safe and environmentally friendly, as no solvents are used

  • High selectivity and yield of desired compounds

  • Low-temperature extraction can preserve the quality and flavor of compounds

  • Can yield both oils and oleoresins depending on raw material


- Cons:


  • Expensive equipment and maintenance

  • Complex process requiring expertise and training

  • Not suitable for all types of organic material


Steam Distillation Extraction


Steam distillation extraction is used to extract essential oils and flavors from plant material. The process involves passing steam through the plant material to vaporize the essential oils, which are then collected in a separate container.


+ Pros:


  • Can be used to extract essential oils and flavors without the use of solvents

  • Preserves the natural flavor and aroma of the extracted compounds

  • Low-temperature extraction can preserve the quality of the extracted compounds


- Cons:


  • Requires a large amount of plant material to produce a small amount of oil

  • Limited to extracting only the essential oil component of materials

  • Can result in loss of heat-sensitive compounds

  • Equipment can be expensive and require maintenance

 

Enzyme-assisted Extraction


Enzyme-assisted extraction involves using enzymes to break down the cell walls of the plant material and increase the accessibility of the target compounds. This method is commonly used to extract proteins and peptides from plant material.


+ Pros:


  • Can improve the yield and selectivity of extraction 

  • Uses mild conditions that do not damage the extracted compounds

  • Can be used for a wide range of plant materials


- Cons:


  • Requires specific enzymes for different types of plant material

  • Enzymes can be expensive and require careful handling

  • Extraction time can be longer than other methods

 

Microwave-Assisted Extraction


Microwave-assisted extraction uses microwave energy to heat the plant material and accelerate the extraction process. This method is commonly used to extract compounds from herbs and spices, such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and essential oils.

+ Pros:

§  Fast and efficient extraction

§  Low energy consumption

§  Can be used for a wide range of compounds

- Cons:

§  Can lead to degradation of heat-sensitive compounds

§  Equipment can be expensive and require maintenance

§  Requires careful optimization of time, temperature, and other parameters

 

Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction


Ultrasound-assisted extraction uses ultrasound waves to break down the cell walls of the plant material, increasing the surface area and accelerating the extraction process. This method is commonly used to extract compounds from plant material, such as flavonoids, alkaloids, and essential oils.

+ Pros:


  • Can improve the yield and speed of extraction

  • Uses mild conditions that do not damage the extracted compounds

  • Can be used for a wide range of plant materials


- Cons:


  • Equipment can be expensive and require maintenance

  • Optimization of time, voltage, and other parameters is required

  • Can lead to degradation of heat-sensitive compounds

 

Pressurized Liquid Extraction


Pressurized liquid extraction is used to extract compounds from plant material using pressurized solvents. The process involves heating the solvent and plant material under high pressure to extract the target compounds.


+ Pros:


  • Fast and efficient extraction

  • Can be used for a wide range of compounds

  • Lower solvent consumption compared to other methods


- Cons:


  • Requires expensive equipment

  • Solvents can affect the quality of the extracted compounds

  • Not suitable for heat-sensitive compounds

 

Pulsed Electric Field Extraction


Pulsed electric field extraction uses an electrical field to disrupt the cell membranes of the plant material, allowing for the extraction of intracellular compounds. This method is commonly used to extract compounds from fruits and vegetables, such as juices and purees.


+ Pros:


  • Can improve the yield and speed of extraction

  • Uses mild conditions that do not damage the extracted compounds

  • Can be used for a wide range of plant materials


- Cons:


  • Equipment can be expensive and require maintenance

  • Optimization of time, voltage, and other parameters is required for optimal extraction

  • Not suitable for all types of plant material


The more common methods of extraction for the food and beverage industries have been Solvent Extraction, Cold Press Extraction, Steam Distillation Extraction, and Supercritical Fluid CO2 Extraction. Primal Essence mainly utilizes steam distillation and Supercritical Fluid CO2 Extraction methods for more than 90% our products.


 

Heat-Sensitive Compounds

           

As demonstrated above, heat-sensitive compounds play a large role in determining the extraction methods and the quality of extracts yielded. Below are just 10 examples of a wider range of ingredients that contain heat-sensitive compounds. Remember, these are the compounds that would be degraded or lost during several of the extraction methods listed above.


1.    Basil: phenolics and essential oils.

2.    Cilantro: flavonoids, carotenoids, and essential oils.

3.    Mint: menthol and essential oils.

4.    Parsley: including phenolics and essential oils.

5.    Garlic: allicin and alliin, responsible for its characteristic flavor and aroma.

6.    Ginger: gingerol and shogaol, for anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties.

7.    Turmeric: curcumin, responsible for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

8.    Black pepper: piperine, responsible for flavor, and may have bioactive properties.

9.    Vanilla: vanillin, which is responsible for its characteristic flavor and aroma.

10. Cinnamon: cinnamaldehyde and eugenol, responsible for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


These examples highlight the functional phytonutrients of each of these materials that are degraded or lost during extraction processes, which is why many extracts are used for flavor and aroma, rather than nutritional or health-oriented applications. Extraction methods such as solvent extraction or supercritical CO2 extraction are often used for these compounds to avoid damage or degradation from heat, and yield extracts which preserve phytonutrients of the original ingredient.

 

Extracted Materials


The Extraction methods listed above can yield different types of materials, depending on the specific compounds being targeted and the extraction method used. Here are some examples of different materials that can be produced from extractions.


1.    Essential oils: Essential oils are volatile, aromatic oils that are often extracted from plants using steam distillation or cold-press extraction. Essential oils contain a high concentration of the natural plant compounds typically responsible for the plant's flavor and aroma.


2.    Oleoresins: Oleoresins are semi-solid or liquid extracts that are usually obtained through solvent extraction or supercritical CO2 extraction. Oleoresins typically contain a combination of both oil-soluble and water-soluble plant compounds, such as essential oils, resins, waxes, and pigments.


3.    Resins: Resins are solid or semi-solid extracts that are usually obtained using solvent extraction. Resins typically contain a high concentration of plant compounds, such as essential oils, terpenes, and flavonoids.


The specific material that is yielded by an extraction method will depend on the type of plant material being extracted, the specific compounds being targeted, and the extraction method used. Essential oils are often extracted for their aromatic and flavor properties, while oleoresins and resins may be used for their functional properties, such as color, flavor, or antioxidant activity.

 

Scale, Raw Materials, & Obstacles


You may be wondering, how much raw material does it take to make oils, oleoresins, and resins? Great question, to which the answer would be, it depends. We can get some numbers if we choose an ingredient and extraction method to observe. For this section, let’s use ginger as an example.


The yield of ginger oleoresin and ginger oil can vary depending on the extraction method used and the quality of the raw material. However, in general, ginger oleoresin typically yields a higher percentage of extracted material than ginger oil. Here is a rough estimate of the amount of raw ginger material needed to produce 1 kg of each type of extract:


Ginger oleoresin: It takes around 200 kg to 250 kg of raw ginger material to produce 1 kg of ginger oleoresin using a solvent extraction method.


Ginger oleoresin: It takes around 125 kg to 175 kg of raw ginger material to produce 1 kg of ginger oleoresin using supercritical CO2 extraction.

 

Ginger oil: It takes around 300 kg to 350 kg of raw ginger material to produce 1 kg of ginger oil using a steam distillation method.


Ginger oil: It takes around 225 kg to 275 kg of raw ginger material to produce 1 kg of ginger oil using supercritical CO2 extraction.


It's important to note that these are rough estimates, and the actual yield may vary depending on factors such as the quality of the raw material, the extraction method used, and the processing conditions.


As you can see, extracts are incredibly concentrated and powerful versions of natural products and ingredients. Extracts open a world of possibilities for food and beverage applications regarding flavors, aromas, nutrients, scalability, logistics, and overall business.


Extracts have been used in the food and beverage industry for decades, however, the applications have been limited due to potential incompatibilities with extraction methods and product yields. For example, we learned that solvent extraction may leave chemical residues in the extract yields, which restricts them from being used in certain products or applications. Similarly, if certain extracts lose their heat-sensitive nutrients and compounds, they are no longer beneficial in functional, health-oriented products.

 

Water-Solubility Solution


Finally, a major obstacle in utilizing extracts in food and beverage applications has been overcoming the hydrophobic nature of oils and oleoresins. Hydrophobic simply means to repel water, or not mixable in water. The ways around this have been to emulsify the oils and oleoresins using additional chemical solvents, which may change the purity, consistency, function, or flavor of the oil and oleoresin extracts.

           

Over the past 25 years, Primal Essence has perfected a natural, proprietary technique to render oils and oleoresins water-soluble, without using chemicals or artificial additives. This natural process allows the food and beverage industry to use pure, unaltered extracts into water-based applications, and allow for organic-compliant and organic certifications that were not possible before. Finally, the concentration of water-soluble extracts provides an economic, efficient, and powerful option for pure flavoring agents and functional ingredients.

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