The Chemistry and Physics of Vanillin


Dr. Chaim Frenkel
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ


Vanillin (3-methoxy-4-hydroxybenzaldehyde), a major flavor constituent of vanilla flavor, accumulates as glucovanillin, a parent compound of vanillin, in the interior of the vanilla pod, where it is synthesized by specialized cells.1 Synthesis of glucovanillin ensues when the vanilla pod has reached its maximum size and continues at a rapid rate for three to four months, then tapers off gradually for an additional few months. At the end of the vanilla bean development, glucovanillin is found in the central cavity of the pod in rather large abundance.2 Mature beans then are subjected to a curing process, which releases the free form of vanillin from glucovanillin and enables the development of a compound that makes up the prized vanilla flavor.

Dr. Chaim Frenkel is a native of Israel where he obtained his B.Sc. degree, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He earned his MS in Horticulture from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA and his doctorate from Washington State University, Pullman. WA. He next went on to do postdoctoral work at Michigan State University, E. Lansing, MI. 

He later accepted a position at Rutgers-the State University of New Jersey where he holds a position of a professor. 


Chaim Frenkel carries out basic studies on plant aging (and fruit ripening) processes. The focus of these studies is the query of metabolic and cellular cues that trigger the onset of aging processes in plants. He also studies fundamental processes leading to cold stress and tolerance, He also studied various aspects of Vanilla Science and Technology.