Inulin-gum mix creams up low-fat custard

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

A mixture of inulin and carrageenan may allow the formulation of low-fat custard formulations with a creamier texture than the full-fat versions, says a new study.

Custard formulated with a blend of long and short chain inulin and carrageenan was considered to be thicker and creamier than the full-fat version, and consumer tasters preferred this product, according to researchers from Spain’s Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA) in Valencia.

The issue of health is no longer a marginal topic for the food industry but wholly mainstream, and it finds food manufacturers seeking to juxtapose today's consumer desire for indulgence with their desire for foods with a healthy profile.

According to a recent study from the US, only 5 per cent of American children between 6 and 11 were overweight before 1980, but 25 years later this number had risen to 19 per cent. Similar increases have been reported in Europe, with the International Association for the Study of Obesity estimating in 2006 that the number of obese school age children in Europe increased by almost 50 per cents since the late 1990s.

The study also provides a potentially prebiotic dose of inulin, which may allow for claims about the food’s digestive and bone health benefits.

“The results of this study are of great interest in the development of prebiotic products which maximize nutritional benefits and sensory characteristics to meet consumer demands,”​ wrote the researchers in the journal LWT – Food Science and Technology​.

Formulation facts

Led by Amparo Tarrega, the Valencia-based researchers tested the effects of different ratios of long and short-chain inulin (Sensus) with and without carrageenan (Degussa Texturant Systems) on the rheological properties of low-fat custards. All formulations contained 7.5 grams of inulin per 100 grams of custard.

The best results for flavour intensity, sweetness, and thickness were observed when 25:75 and 50:50 blends of long-chain and short-chain inulin.

While the inulin blends in low-fat formulations did not “fully emulate the rheological behaviour of full-fat custard”​, addition of carrageenan produced a superior effect, said the researchers.

“In the present study, adding this inulin blend (50:50, long-chain and short-chain) to low-fat custard proved insufficient to completely emulate the rheological behaviour of full-fat custard, while when combined with carrageenan it exceeded the full-fat effect,”​ report Tarrega and his co-workers.

“However, the sensorial results indicated that custard enriched with long-chain and short-chain inulin blend 50:50 showed no significant differences in viscosity, creaminess and acceptability with the full-fat custard and when this inulin blend was used combined with carrageenan at 0.01 g/100 g of product the custard was more viscous, creamier and preferred over the whole-milk custard,”​ they added.

Source: LWT – Food Science and Technology
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2009.10.002
“Effect of blends of short and long-chain inulin on the rheological and sensory properties of prebiotic low-fat custards”
Authors: A. Tarrega, A. Rocafull, E. Costell

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