Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Herbal liqueurs are alcoholic beverages produced by the maceration or distillation of aromatic and medicinal plants in alcohol, and are also highly valued for their medicinal properties. The process conditions, as well as the number and quantity of the plants employed, will have a great influence on the quality of the liqueur obtained. The aim of this research was to optimize these important variables.
A Box–Benhken experimental design was used to evaluate the independent variables: alcohol content, amount of plant and time during the experimental maceration of plants in grape marc distillate. Four plants were assessed, with the main compound of each plant representing the dependent variable evaluated with respect to following the evolution of the maceration process. Bisabolol oxide A in Matricaria recutita L., linalool in Coriander sativum L. and eucalyptol in Eucalyptus globulus Labill. were quantified using a gas chromatography-flame ionization detector. Glycyrrhizic acid in Glycyrrhiza glabra L was determined using a high-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detector. Other dependent variables were also evaluated: total phenolic content, color parameters and consumer preference (i.e. appearance).
The experimental designs allowed the selection of the optimal maceration conditions for each parameter, including the preference score of consumers: 70% (v/v) of ethanol, 40 g L−1 plant concentration and a maceration process of 3 weeks.