Chicory root examined as yet another novel pectin source

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pectin, Dietary fiber

Chicory roots pulps, a by-product of the inulin production, may
offer a range of pectin for the food industry, Belgian researchers
have reported.

The research, published in the journal Food Chemistry​, taps into the growing trend for alternative and novel sources of pectin, highlighted by an increasing number of studies looking at extracting pectin from sources such as sugar beet, mango, pumpkin and squash. Researchers from the Faculté universitaire des Sciences agronomiques in Belgium report that harvest date affected the pectin quality and yield from five different cultivars of chicory. "Therefore, according to the harvest date, it will possible to produce naturally a broad range of pectin with various physicochemical properties,"​ wrote lead author The ingredient, with worldwide production estimated at 35,000 tonnes a year, is currently widely used as gelling agents in jams, confectionary, and bakery fillings, and stabilisers in yoghurts and milk drinks. Researchers from Denmark and England recently highlighted the possibilities of this ingredient and proposed that 'designer' pectin will become increasingly common in the future (Trends in Food Science & Technology​, Vol. 17, pp. 97-104). The functionality of pectin is dictated by the chemical fine structure, and the majority of the pectin used currently comes from citrus peel and apple pomace. Other sources of the ingredient have remained largely unexploited because of certain undesirable structural properties. This is slowing changing, however, with increasing numbers of reports surfacing indicating the potential of other sources. The potential of chicory pectin ​ Thirteen different development stages of the chicory were studied by the Belgian researchers to investigate the quality and yield of the root pulps. They report that the maximum pectin yields of 4.65 and 4.62 per cent were obtained from the Melci and Nausica varieties, respectively, using an acidic treatment at 85 degrees Celsius. The galacturonic acid content of pectins was reported to range from 43 to 53 per cent, with no significant differences observed during development or varieties. The molecular weight of the pectins declined between the 1st and 7th harvest date, however, starting around 890 kDa and ending at around 400 kDa. "In order to understand the modification process, it would be interesting to correlate pectin evolution with in situ enzymatic activities. Exposure to cold stress may be also studied,"​ they concluded. Ready to rival citrus? ​ Despite a wealth of research exploring potential new sources, Dr. Steve Bodicoat, marketing and innovations direction for CP Kelco, told FoodNavigator.com at the recent FiE in London: "We do experiment with other sources of pectin, like potato, for example, but we see more potential in citrus." "There is scope to improve citrus pectin,"​ he said. Source: Food Chemistry​ (Elsevier) Published on-line ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2007.12.013 "Effect of variety and harvest date on Pectin extracted from chicory roots (Cichorium intybus L.)" ​Authors: C. Robert, T.H. Emaga, B. Wathelet, M. Paquot

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