Plant-Based Formulations Using Citrus Fibre
Monday, November 14th, 2022
Natural citrus fibre can improve the taste, texture and nutrition profile of plant-based formulations. It is also sustainable and affordable. By Dr Brock Lundberg, PhD, President of R&D and Food Applications.
Plant-based beverage manufacturers are seeking more natural ingredients when creating high quality drinks. This is due to the fact that consumers associate recognisable ingredients to a positive and healthy image. However, there are limited clean label ingredient offerings on the market that have desirable properties for plant-based beverages. Citrus fibre is one example of a clean label ingredient that can provide multiple functional properties such as mouthfeel, emulsification, and/or stability in plant-based beverages.
However, not all citrus fibres are created the same. Some citrus fibres, such as Citri-Fi®, are byproducts of the citrus juice extraction process. This natural ingredient contains a matrix of soluble and insoluble fibre and protein with high amounts of intact native pectin. Thus, this type of citrus fibre can provide natural emulsification properties and a creamy mouthfeel which allow beverage makers to replace chemical emulsifiers and chemically modified ingredients. When mixed with water, the fibres swell, hydrate and expand their surface area for additional binding. The composition of citrus fibres also assist with overall creaminess of the plant-based beverage. Homogenisation helps to form a more stable emulsion as well as additional viscosity. Labelling options for citrus fibres include citrus fibre, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour, which resonate well in the clean label and natural markets.
Oftentimes, gums and various hydrocolloids can be used for attaining stability, emulsification, or enhancing mouthfeel. However, these ingredients can have a tendency to cause an unnatural mouthfeel and slipperiness in the beverage, which can make the taste undesirable. Thus, many formulators would rather have unstable beverages with minimal mouthfeel rather than incorporate gums that impart off taste and off texture. However, with citrus fibre as an option, many desirable properties can be attained while having a natural texture, pleasant taste, and a clean label ingredient declaration.
Citrus fibre used in plant milk
Almond Paste: 2.5%
Citri-Fi 100M40: 0.3%
IKA dispenser 20,000rpm for 1.5mins.
Homogenized at 500 bar for 4 cycles.
Pasteurization at 75C for 5mins.
Cool to 40 degrees Celsius.
Other Dairy Alternatives
One of the main aims for dairy alternatives is to achieve as much similarity as possible to conventional dairy products. Many dairy alternatives require good emulsification properties to provide desirable eating qualities without syneresis (the separation of liquid from the product). Most conventional emulsifiers only work under narrow conditions and can only stabilise fats and oils used in dairy alternatives on a one-to-one basis. For example, one part emulsifier to one part oil. However, in the case of citrus fibre, it has the ability to bind fats and oil up to eight times its weight, which lends itself to significantly lower usage rates and an increased fat-like mouthfeel. Citrus fibre is also heat stable and can tolerate a wide range of pH conditions without breaking down. This natural upcycled fibre is created from a process free from chemical modifications, which opens up the fibre to create the high water holding and emulsification properties. The mechanism of emulsification is via a combination of the hydrophobic proteins and pectins native to Citri-Fi in addition to the high porosity of the insoluble fibre matrix, which further stabilises fats and oils. The fibre’s surface area and emulsification properties can be increased further using shear conditions such as high pressure homogenisation.
Consumer demand for meat alternatives along with new product offerings have continued to increase in the past few years. However, the ingredient options for making natural meat substitutes with desirable meat-like texture are limited. Besides the nutritional aspects of plant-based foods, many functional properties are also needed to create great tasting plant-based meats.
For instance, functional ingredients are needed to provide cold binding for forming the product during production, which will ensure that the product will not fall apart during packaging and storage. Another desired property for meat alternatives is hot binding to attain a firm texture when heated so that the product will taste and feel like animal-based protein.
Meat alternative patty measured for firmness using a texture analyzer. Uncooked (left) and cooked (right). To quantify cold binding strength, the uncooked patties were tested by a texture analyzer. A TA18 round probe (left) is used for the compression load test. For hot binding strength, a TA7 knife-edge probe (right) is used. All patties are tested by compressing them with the respective probes reaching a depth of 10 mm. The compression load was recorded when the compression reached the peak value or at the depth of 10 mm.
Juiciness is another aspect to consider so that the final product tastes moist rather than gritty and dry. This is often attained due to ingredient emulsification so that both water and oil can be present in the meat alternative. Despite these known needed properties, the ingredient offerings to fulfil these needs are finite, especially clean label ingredient offerings. Currently, a large number of meat alternatives use methyl cellulose, which provides the needed properties. However, methyl cellulose is not considered natural by most accepted standards.
Texturising citrus fibre works synergistically with methyl cellulose to improve cold and hot bite. Meat alternatives uncooked (top row) vs cooked patties (bottom row) with methyl cellulose + Citri-Fi TX10 (left column), methyl cellulose only (middle column) and Citri-Fi TX10 only (right column).
Comparison of the binding strength of patties with and without methyl cellulose
|Methyl Cellulose + Citri-Fi TX10
|Methyl Cellulose only
|Citri-Fi TX10 only
|Compression load (cold) in grams
|Compression load (hot) in grams
For cold binding, citrus fibres can work quite well to hold texturised vegetable protein (TVP) together during processing, shaping and storage. Historically, in many plant-based meat products, either egg white or gluten have been used for their cold binding properties. But market analysis shows that some customers need to replace wheat gluten and/or egg whites due to allergen concerns. Furthermore, egg products are not considered vegan. Additionally, for a production plant that produces meats or other products that are not allergens, introducing a potential allergen will result in a risk of cross contamination with all their other products. As a result, this may also require a change in package labelling to reflect allergens being present at their facility.
For a more meat-like texture in coarse ground meat alternatives, texturised citrus fibres are specifically designed to generate a particulate-like meaty texture in meat substitutes. The texturised citrus fibre product has a large particle structure that closely resembles ground proteins. And the product holds up and retains binding properties during processing, storage, and cooking conditions. Texturised citrus fibre is a clean label citrus fibre from a natural source that is produced from a patented process free from chemical modifications. Additionally, this texturising ingredient provides excellent texture, meat-like appearance and viscoelastic properties while having both cold and hot binding properties when used at 2-4% of the formulation.
Fat binding and emulsification is required to increase juiciness in the meat alternatives. For this purpose, citrus fibre is recommended since it has the ability to bind up to eight times its weight in oil. If a solid fat is used, the level of binding can be double or triple compared to a liquid oil, which will result in increased sizzling and juiciness. For most plant-based meats, citrus fibre’s usage rates are typically <1.5% when creating emulsification, juiciness, and sizzling properties during cooking. Many types of fats and oils can be used at varying amounts. Different eating qualities will depend on the type of fat used. But in all cases, citrus fibres can help with emulsification and oil binding.
In recent years, consumer demands have been centering around healthy and clean eating. There are also growing concerns about the environmental footprint generated by food production. Citrus fibre checks the important boxes for the modern consumer. The benefits of citrus fibre include the following:
- Nutritional composition and value are preserved;
- Improves health and wellness foods by replacing calories via fat, oil, egg and animal meat;
- Improves quality of dairy alternatives and meat substitutes, leading to a better eating experience;
- Free from chemical modifications;
- Biodegradable product for industrial applications;
- High production yields;
- Sourced via sustainable farm practices.
A scientist tests different emulsion ratios of CF, oil and water. The emulsion will be added to the meat alternative formulation to provide emulsification and juiciness.
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