This study demonstrates a simple method for rapid and in situ identification of volatile and endogenous compounds in culinary spice samples through mass spectrometry (MS). This method only requires a holder for solid spice sample (2–3 mm) that is placed close to a mass spectrometer inlet, which is applied with a high voltage. Volatile species responsible for the aroma of the spice samples can be readily detected by the mass spectrometer. Sample pretreatment is not required prior to MS analysis, and no solvent was used during MS analysis. The high voltage applied to the inlet of the mass spectrometer induces the ionization of volatile compounds released from the solid spice samples. Furthermore, moisture in the air also contributes to the ionization of volatile compounds. Dried spices including cinnamon and cloves are used as the model sample to demonstrate this straightforward MS analysis, which can be completed within few seconds. Furthermore, we also demonstrate the suitability of the current method for rapid screening of cinnamon quality through detection of the presence of a hepatotoxic agent, i.e. coumarin.
- Mass spectrometry