In an era of food crises, price hikes and environmental concern, food manufacturers and consumers are looking for foods that can provide variety in the diet and perform some function, be it nutritional or technical, according a new review accepted for publication in the Elsevier journal Food Research International.
The review authors note that, beside having nutritional benefits, proteins from pulses like peas, chickpeas, lentils and beans have functional uses in food formulation and processing. For instance, they can aid with solubility, water and fat binding, and foaming – and could even rival more common non-meat proteins like soy and whey.
These properties have been exploited to some extent in products like bakery goods, soups, extruded products, and snacks, but there is even more scope to tap their potential.
The authors of the review, from Agri-Food Canada and McGill University, looked at the use of pulses in various food applications. In baby foods, for example, they found very few literature references to pulse protein isolates or concentrates. The slim pickings on use of whole pulses include using boiled mung bean with rice soup as a protein supplement, and kidney beans.
On the other hand, they found many more reports of pulse flours and fractions being used to make meat products like burgers, sausages and nuggets, to boost their protein content, extent the meat, and allow them to hold more water.
Attempts to make tofu-like products using chickpea, faba bean, lentil, mung bean and various forms of pea indicate the potential for use and further study of the gelling properties of pulse proteins for use in curd-like products and imitation cheese.
And in bakery products, a raft of studies have looked at using various pulse flours to replace or complement wheat flour; few have looked at using pulse fraction, however.
The review authors also give an overview of the characteristics of various pulse proteins and current and emerging technologies. These include air classification, alkaline extraction/isolectric precipitation, acid, water and salt extraction, and ultrafiltration.
Food Research International (online ahead of print)
“Pulse proteins: Processing, charecterization, functional properties and applications in food and feed”.
Authors: Boye, J; Zare, F; Pletch, A.