Aroma Families

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

The box identifies some of the more prominent aromas to be found in plant foods. Though I’ve divided them by type of food, this division is arbitrary. Fruits may have green-leaf aromas; vegetables may contain chemicals more characteristic of fruits or spices; spices and herbs share many aromatics with fruits. Some examples: cherries and bananas contain the dominant element of cloves; coriander contains aromatics that are prominent in citrus flowers and fruits; carrots share piney aromatics with Mediterranean herbs. While a given plant does usually specialize in the production of a certain kind of aromatic, plants in general are biochemical virtuosos, and may operate a number of different aromatic production lines at once. Some of the most important production lines are these: