Recently we experienced a problem with a fishy taint in a batch of buttercream
Detection of taints varies from consumer to consumer and may be present in all or only part of the buttercream. Such off-flavours are not usually caused by microbial spoilage but rather by a chemical reaction. Because of its high fat content, buttercream is often susceptible to such problems.
A fishy taint in butter is due to the action of peroxides on the choline derived from the lecithin present. Both copper and iron can catalyse the development of this taint by accelerating peroxide formation and promoting the reaction of peroxides with the lecithins. The presence of as little as 1 ppm of copper can produce a fishy flavour in butter within three days. However, the off-flavour caused by the iron is not 'fishy'.
Since only traces of copper are needed to accelerate a taint in buttercream, care should be taken that products containing butter or other fats do not come into contact with copper or copper-containing materials such as brass fittings, phosphor-bronze bearings or copper utensils.
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