Superheated starch offers fat replacer for formulators

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Liquid

Replacing fat can be achieved by spreadable gel particles prepared by superheating potato starch and then cooling, Dutch researchers have reported.

Peter Steeneken and Albert Woortman from TNO Quality of Life report: "Superheated starch (SHS) exhibits more effective gelling properties than maltodextrin, which is currently applied as a fat mimetic."​ The study, published online in the journal Food Hydrocolloids​, suggests that formulators may soon be offered an increase in choice for fat mimetics and ingredients in spreads. Recent figures from Frost & Sullivan reveal emulsifiers, along with fat replacers, are leading growth in the food additive industry: since 2001 the market value of emulsifiers rose by some 5.6 per cent. Emulsifiers are used by food makers to reduce the surface tension between two immiscible phases at their interface - such as two liquids, a liquid and a gas, or a liquid and a solid - allowing them to mix. "A potential benefit of SHS as a food ingredient is that a comparable product quality may be achieved at a lower caloric intake,"​ wrote the researchers. Steeneken and Woortman heated aqueous potato starch suspensions until they formed solutions and then cooled them. This resulted in the formation of "spreadable particle gels"​ that had a cream-like texture. "It is immediately apparent that SHS-gel is a much more effective gelling agent than maltodextrin, especially at 20 degrees Celsius,"​ wrote the researchers. "A most interesting finding is that SHS-gel also displays an immediate gelling functionality when it is dispersed as a powder in water at 20 or 4 degrees C (cold suspended). This property is not shared by maltodextrin and opens the way to instant applications,"​ they added. In order to investigate the industrial and commercial potential of the superheated starch, a scaled-up preparation procedure was developed. "A large-scale preparation procedure based on jet-cooking and spray-drying with or without intermediate gelation was devised, which seems viable for manufacture of SHS on a technical scale,"​ wrote Steeneken and Woortman. "SHS was identified as a slightly to moderately degraded starch,"​ they added. The exciting results suggest interesting potential for this new ingredient. The researchers also noted that the SHS gels could be spread on bread using a knife. Steeneken and Woortman state that a patent application has been filed on the preparation of the superheated starch and its gelling functionality. Source: Food Hydrocolloids​ (Elsevier)March 2009, Volume 23, Issue 2, Pages 394-405, doi:10.1016/j.foodhyd.2008.01.006 "Superheated starch: A novel approach towards spreadable particle gels"​Authors: Peter A.M. Steeneken and Albert J.J. Woortman

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