New butter-like extract may make baked goods healthier

April 4, 2014

Researchers with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) have developed a process for making a butter-like extract derived from rice bran oil, which may be able to partially replace margarine, butter, or shortening in baked goods.

In preliminary experiments, the researchers used the extract to partially replace some of the butter in standard recipes for granola and for white bread. Feedback from taste testers who participated in these preliminary experiments indicated that the substitutions did not detract from the taste or texture of either product. Unlike some shortening and margarines, the extract is free of trans fats. In addition, the product is shelf-stable and resists oxidation that could otherwise result in off-flavors and unpleasant odors.

The extract consists primarily of unrefined rice bran oil and rice bran’s natural wax, which is used in confections. It also contains minor amounts of vitamin E, plant sterols, and gamma-oryzanol, shown to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in humans. A staple at Asian food markets or other specialty or gourmet grocery stores, rice bran oil has a mild flavor and is high in vitamin E. The oil comes from the outer layers that are removed when rice grains are milled and polished to produce white rice.

The extraction procedure differs from other approaches for making a butter-like product from rice bran oil in that it uses very low temperatures. The USDA is seeking a patent for the procedure.

Press release