According to Trends in Food Science & Technology, an organogel is defined as “an organic liquid entrapped within a thermo-reversible, three-dimensional gel network”.
The gels have potential in a number of applications, including being novel delivery systems for flavours and bioactive functional ingredients, replacing trans and saturated fats in products, emulsion stabilizers, and restrictors of oil mobility and migration.
Despite the potential, and work already done in this area, Alejandro Marangoni from University of Guelph and his fellow reviewers note that, despite the organogels’ “significant promise and potential for a wide variety of applications” in the food industry “much more work will be required to develop this technology into marketable consumer products”.
“First and foremost, a food-grade organogelator system that is both functional and economical must be discovered,” state the reviewers, led by
“Currently, the only organogelator system that is available for use in food systems is a mixture of gamma-oryzanol with beta-sitosterol.
“Unfortunately, due to the complexity of network formation and bonding interactions, it is very difficult to design or predict organogelators that will work with a particular solvent,” they added.
Scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York have previously reported that the enzyme lipase B from Candida antarctica (CALB) can promote the formation of trehalose esters, which then self-assemble into 3-D fibres measuring between 10 and 50 nanometers in diameter.
As the fibres entangle, a large amount of solvent gets packed together, trapping some 10,000 molecules.
"The ability of the longer-chain trehalose diesters to gel olive oil attests to its potential use as a food or cosmetic additive that can be prepared by using food-approved enzymatic synthesis approaches," wrote the researchers in the journal Angewandte Chemie in 2006.
Source: Trends in Food Science & Technology
Published online ahead of print,
“Potential food applications of edible oil organogels”
Authors: N.E. Hughes, A.G. Marangoni, A.J. Wright, M.A. Rogers, J.W.E. Rush