It’s that time again for another annual installment of emerging ingredients—those novel cutting-edge developments that can help shape the parameters of how we traditionally view ingredients, the forms they take, the technologies that are used to produce them, the research studies that form their background and rationale, and, of course, the roles they play in delivering health and functionality to the consumer.
When I first started doing “emerging ingredients” back in July 1999 (yes, this is the 14th installment), I remembered being inspired by a television show, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not,” that aired examples of the strange and unusual. (You really have to experience the way actor Jack Palance would utter the word “bizarre” in that very distinctive voice of his.) Anyway, I recalled thinking wouldn’t it be interesting—and fun—to apply that approach to food and see what you would come up with.
Well, we may not have had Jack Palance to do the introductions—probably would have been too menacing anyway—but over the years I still came up with such items as nutraceutical under-the-tongue sprays, peanut butter in sliced form, black amaranth, improved popcorn kernels, interactive colors, honey wafers, red-fleshed apples, and chewing gum made with magnolia bark that kills bad breath. Some of these items made it to the market. And some probably didn’t. But they sure caught your eye in terms of imagination and outside-the-box thinking.
As time passed, I realized that many of the emerging ingredient developments that I covered were evolutionary in nature, responding to consumer needs and events of that time period. Although quite a few of these developments probably could not have been foreseen 20 or so years ago, in hindsight, they really weren’t that unusual or bizarre when put in a proper context. Take salt, for example, with today’s formulators focusing much of their attention on developing new salt-reduction strategies. At one time, that would have meant potassium chloride mixtures (and later, sea salt and spice blends), but today formulators are developing a still broader range of strategies, prompted by concerns over sodium consumption. As this article will soon show, these can include a technology that can combine regular salt, mineral salt, and taste-enhancing flavors in single salt grains. Or the pairing of stable and non-stable emulsions to provide “pockets of saltiness” in the mouth. Or sodium alternatives derived from such interesting sources as tomatoes, dairy proteins, and mushrooms.
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Many of the fats and oils developments described in the June 2012 Ingredients section could easily have been positioned in this article. Consider a variety of advancements that are enhancing compositional traits within a bean or seed to provide healthier oils with improved functionality characteristics. Or a microalgae-derived ingredient called an “algal flour” that can help reduce the level of saturated fat in a formula. Or new plant species that can provide the next omega-3 oil. Make sure to check out that article as it makes for a nice preface to this one.
And what are some of the other emerging ingredients? Well, I don’t want to give the whole thing away, so here are just a few highlights. A novel straw concept that can deliver probiotics into a beverage. Ice creams that have a liquid core. New sweeteners that have anti-diabetic effects. A range of next-generation condiments and the ingredients that are making them possible. And I won’t even mention here what frozen desserts and avalanches have in common. You’ll just have to read on.
Finally, in a discourse about emerging ingredient developments, foodies and Trekkies may have something in common. Speaking for myself, I know that more than anything, “emerging ingredients” has taught me that there is no limit to one’s imagination, especially when it comes to solving problems—be they Klingons of “Star Trek” fame or the creation of a tasty gluten-free food. And, from a food development perspective, it is essential that the borders of that imagination keep expanding if it is to adequately encompass solutions to major problems ranging from diabetes to the exploration of a particular texture that will determine whether a product will succeed in the marketplace or not. In that sense, the emerging ingredient articles are the most optimistic in nature of all my articles, which is why I always look forward to them.
That same optimistic spirit pervades the “Star Trek” philosophy. So when talking about emerging ingredient developments, it’s truly a case of “going where no ingredient has gone before,” as we aim—hopefully at least—for 2013 and beyond, facing the future bravely, using the tools that food science provides us.
With that, let’s look at some of the following explorations of food ingredients.
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New Forms and Shapes
Shapes of things to come? Sounds like a science fiction movie, but the next four developments all demonstrate some of the interesting—and in some cases novel—directions that ingredients may be taking in the near future when it comes to the use of new formats and delivery systems. H.G. Wells himself would be proud of some of these innovations. See for yourself.
By using a straw delivery system, beverage manufacturers can now provide consumers with probiotics to benefit the immune and digestive system without needing a refrigerated supply chain. This was made possible by a global partnership between Ganeden Biotech, Cleveland, Ohio (phone 440-229-5200, www.ganedenlabs.com), and Australian-based Unistraw International Ltd.
The straw concept, developed by Unistraw, contains probiotics in a bead form that are dry and shelf stable, but dissolve as liquid when sipped through the straw. With this method, juice, milk, carbonated drinks, and water can all be turned into probiotic beverages that no longer need refrigeration and have a shelf life of up to 12 months. The straw is also recyclable.
A variety of probiotic strains were tested, but it was found that Ganeden BC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) had the best stability to complement the straw delivery concept. Unlike other probiotic strains, it can survive the most difficult manufacturing processes and supply-chain conditions, as well as stomach acids, making the probiotic both effective and efficient. The survivability of this strain can be linked to its naturally occurring layer of organic material that protects the genetic core of the bacteria. Other probiotic strains are unable to form this protective layer, making them vulnerable in a variety of manufacturing processes.
“The probiotic straw is a game changer to the beverage industry because liquids that normally could not be enriched with probiotics and other nutritional ingredients now can,” said Tim York, Unistraw’s Managing Director. “GanedenBC30 is one of a very few probiotic strains capable of meeting the durability and longevity standards necessary for this concept to be fully embraced by beverage manufacturers. For milk, juice, or whatever a beverage manufacturer can dream up, we can now provide an easy, cost-effective, on-the-go delivery system to offer probiotic benefits not possible before.”
“Pass the lycopene, please” may best summarize this next development. A Purdue University food scientist has developed a way to encase nutritional supplements in food-based products so that one day consumers might be able to sprinkle vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds right onto their meals.
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Nutraceuticals such as beta-carotene, lycopene, resveratrol, and vitamins can play a significant role in treating or preventing disease. Unfortunately, many of the nutraceuticals, or nutritional supplements, added to foods today are not structurally stable. Heat, light, oxygen, and other external factors could degrade the supplements, rendering them ineffective. “There are many methods for adding nutraceuticals to foods, but one thing they all have in common is instability due to non-rigid structures,” said Srinivas Janaswamy, a Purdue research assistant professor of food science. In response to this challenge, he developed a method that involves the creation of crystalline-like fibers that embed the nutraceuticals, protecting them from external influences and preventing degradation.
“Once the nutraceutical is enveloped, it is thermally protected,” said Janaswamy, who used iota-carrageenan, a long-chain carbohydrate, to do the encapsulating. Iota-carrageenan—which is amorphous (lacking a defined structural arrangement)—was “stretched,” forming well-oriented crystalline fibers that provided more structural organization, he explained. In the fiber network, iota-carrageenan maintains a stable double-helical structure with small pockets between the helices that contain water molecules. He replaced these water pockets with curcumin (a compound with nutraceutical properties found in the spice turmeric), which was then protected by the sturdy iota-carrageenan network.
Janaswamy envisions that the encapsulated fibers could then be chopped into small particles so that diners could reach for a nutraceutical compound the same as they might salt or pepper. He is currently working on delaying the release of the embedded compounds once consumed, as their current release time is about 30 minutes. Janaswamy noted that the time would need to be lengthened to about three hours to ensure that the nutraceuticals reach the intestines, where they can be properly absorbed. Also, he is working to increase the amount of nutraceutical that can be loaded into the fibers.
And now let’s get right to the core with this next development which was introduced in Europe but may eventually find its way over here. But first answer this question: What has a liquid core? The earth perhaps? Or maybe a vitamin capsule? Or some kind of futuristic time sensor?
But how about a premium ice cream? Wild Flavors, Erlanger, Ky. (phone 859-342-3600, www.wildflavors.com), using its technological expertise, developed its liquid core concept for the European premium ice cream market. The innovative concept provides a new taste sensation through the combination of a creamy ice cream and a liquid core. According to the company, “a change of the freezing point keeps the filling in the core liquid, while the outer shell is frozen.” The filling, which is more liquid than a traditional topping, has a viscosity comparable to honey. The liquid core, or center filling, is available in brown and fruity preparations. Varieties include advocaat and vanilla with a caramel filling, panna cotta with a raspberry filling, and vanilla with a hazelnut and cacao filling.
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And for our fourth “shape of things to come,” a new edible packaging technology allows individuals to eat and transport food without plastic. WikiCells, a packaging that encloses food and liquid in an edible membrane, was developed by a Harvard University scientist, David A. Edwards—the same person who created an inhalable chocolate (see the blog post on page 46 for more information on that previous innovation). As reported in The Harvard Crimson, “the idea was to try to create a bottle which was based on how nature creates bottles,” Edwards explained. Citing grapes as an example of one of nature’s “bottles,” he described how WikiCells imitate such natural packaging by enclosing food and liquid in an edible membrane. This membrane, consisting of a charged polymer and food particles, is protected by a hard shell that can be broken away much like that of an egg. Edwards and his team have developed a variety of different platforms for WikiCells, which can be served as meals, drinks, and snacks. Some examples include a tomato membrane containing gazpacho soup that can be poured over bread; an orange membrane filled with orange juice that you can drink with a straw; a smaller grape-like membrane holding wine; and a chocolate membrane containing hot chocolate. The concept of “bottles that we can eat,” may prove useful as foods and drinks for restaurants, homes, and offices, for delivery to and purchase in stores, and for production and delivery to places in the world where the recycling and disposal of plastic produces a major human and environmental concern. Edwards maintains that anything is possible, and eventually he hopes to develop a product platform for WikiCells that would allow individuals to produce their own edible bottles.
Texture Innovations Have a Snow-balling Effect
From slopes to scoops, scientists at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, are using the same specialized technology that avalanche experts use to study snow as a way of improving the textural quality of ice cream. As described in the journal Soft Matter, the company’s scientists are working with the Switzerland-based Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research to examine the microscopic ice crystals found in both snow and ice cream. According to the article, the arrangement of ice crystals in snow can greatly influence snow-pack stability and the formulation of avalanches. Ice crystals affect the properties of ice cream in a similar way, by altering taste and texture as the ice crystals reform and increase in size. Changes in ice crystal structure occur when freezer temperature fluctuates up and down by a couple of degrees, causing slight melting and refreezing of the ice cream—a common occurrence in home freezers. Under these conditions over time, ice cream may lose its creamy taste and texture and become coarse and chewy.
“Ice cream is an inherently unstable substance. The longer it is stored, the more likely the ice will separate from the original ingredients such as cream and sugar,” said Hans Jorg Limbach, Nestlé Research Scientist involved in the study. “You can literally see this separation process happen as ice crystals form on the surface of a product during storage.”
Scientists from Nestlé and the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research are using x-ray tomography technology (three-dimensional imaging for material structures) at subzero temperatures to record the evolution (size and shape) of ice crystals and air bubbles in ice cream over time under home-freezer conditions. This novel approach bridges a gap in our understanding of the structures and phases of ice cream. Researchers were able to identify not only the three different phases of ice cream—the ice crystals, unfrozen solution, and air bubbles—but also the changes that occur in the microstructure during storage. For example, as some ice crystals grow in size, they fuse together, creating bigger crystals which cause coarsening of the ice cream texture.
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“Previously, we could not look inside ice cream without destroying the sample in the process,” said Cedric Dubois, Nestlé Research Scientist. “The x-ray tomography method is non-invasive and does not disturb the product.”
Studies such as these show the increased attention that texture has been getting in recent years. Not only are novel approaches emerging that are designed for a better understanding of texture—a quality that not too long ago was frequently overlooked—but new ingredient innovations are being developed that can help solve problems related to texture.
For example, through a partnership between Gum Technology Corp., Tucson, Ariz. (phone 520-888-5500, www.gumtech.com), and Fiberstar, River Falls, Wis. (phone 715-425-7550), a new generation of texturizers has been launched. Hydro-Fi ingredients—a combination of Gum Technology’s Coyote Brand® hydrocolloids and Fiberstar’s Citri-Fi® citrus fiber—improves texture, increases yield, and enhances mouthfeel.
According to TIC Gums Inc., White Marsh, Md. (phone 410-273-7300, www.ticgums.com), product developers are handicapped by the lack of an agreed upon language to describe texture. Developers are further challenged by the fact that texture cannot be “added” to a product at the end of the design process, but rather must be integrated into the development of a new product from the very beginning. To help overcome these challenges, the company recently developed a texture lexicon that offers clearer definitions of the different kinds of texture available and makes texture a quantifiable part of the food design process. At the 2012 IFT Food Expo, TIC Gums, using its texture lexicon as a basis, demonstrated how blends of gums and gum systems can very closely mimic the texture, body, and adhesiveness that is lost when sugar is replaced with artificial sweeteners.
At the 2012 IFT Food Expo, Corn Products/National Starch (now Ingredion), Westchester, Ill. (phone 708-551-2536, www.cornproductsus.com), demonstrated the critical importance of texture in a number of applications, emphasizing that formulators do not have to compromise on texture to meet their customers’ dietary requirements. For example, the company presented a poster, “Impact of Processing Conditions on Stirred Yogurt: Understanding the Role of Starch Functionality and Different Sources,” which analyzed the results achieved in a stirred yogurt formulation using three types of starch texturizers under different process parameters. The findings identify optimum process conditions for creating the preferred texture. In a gluten-free pancake formulation, the company featured its Homecraft® GF 10, a coprocessed gluten-free flour that gives the pancakes the taste and texture customers expect, without the dry, gritty qualities so often found in gluten-free formulations.
Products in the marketplace are also underscoring the emerging qualities of texture. Replicating the smooth, dense texture of Greek yogurts at low fat levels within the frozen dairy environment has proven to be a challenge. Denali Ingredients, New Berlin, Wis., has developed Greek frozen yogurts that are designed to offer the high-protein, low-fat, creamier profile of traditional refrigerated Greek yogurts. The company claims that its introduction of such products demonstrates its expertise as texture innovators.
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Although there is still debate regarding the effects of salt on health, new sources for salt alternatives, as well as novel technologies and approaches for reducing sodium, continue to emerge.
Here are just a few of the recent examples. What has been described as a breakthrough technology for sodium reduction has been developed by Netherlands-based AkzoNobel Functional Chemicals (phone +31 6 53108373, www.suprasel.com). Suprasel Loso OneGrain technology from the company can achieve up to 50% sodium reduction by combining regular salt, mineral salt, and taste-enhancing flavors in single salt grains. According to the company, the technology offers a direct, one-to-one replacement for regular salt with products that look, taste, flow, blend, dissolve, and cook in exactly the same way as salt.
A new study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry shows that formulating foods and beverages using multiple emulsions may provide a way to produce sodium-reduced products without impacting the perception of saltiness. Scientists from the University of Guelph and Ryerson University report that formulating less-stable emulsions alongside more stable ones could provide “pockets” of saltiness in the mouth, while the overall sodium chloride level of the emulsion is reduced. “Our hypothesis was that ‘less stable’ emulsions would be perceived as saltier than ‘more stable’ emulsions, given that ‘less stable’ droplets would rupture and release their saline cargo upon oral processing when compared to ‘more stable’ droplets,” explained the researchers. “As a result, more NaCl would be released near the oral mucosa, where the taste receptors and oral shear are most prevalent.”
A natural tomato concentrate from Israel-based LycoRed Ltd. (phone +972-8-6296994, www.lycored.com) can be used for salt taste enhancement. For centuries chefs and food technologists have added tomatoes to a wide variety of foods to enhance and improve flavor profiles. Food scientists from the company have succeeded in separating out and concentrating all the taste-enhancing components that exist naturally in the tomato, liberating a natural flavor enhancer that is marketed under the name Sante. This ingredient, which has umami and kokumi flavor characteristics, is suitable for a wide variety of food systems, such as culinary products, soups, sauces, baked goods, snacks, and protein-based formulations. By enhancing the flavor of these applications, it can help reduce the amount of salt added to a product. Recently, LycoRed adapted its tomato-based flavor enhancer for use in powdered and canned soups. “Using only a small amount of Sante in canned and prepared soup formulations—typically high in sodium—will boost the overall soup flavor and allow salt reduction of up to 30%, without tomato flavor notes,” said Roee Nir, the company’s Color and Flavor Global Commercial Manager. Because of the special blend of components extracted from tomatoes, it extends the perceived flavor’s dwell time on the palate, improves mouthfeel and texture, and can achieve significant reduction in sodium. The ingredient may be used in liquid or powder formulations and is highly stable at high temperatures and variable pH. In tests, replacing 0.2% MSG in a standard chicken soup mix with an equivalent quantity of Sante liquid reduced sodium content by 25% and maintained high flavor quality. Several trials were also conducted using a powdered version in a commercial dry pea soup mix, and it “performed as an excellent alternative for the partial or total replacement of standard flavor enhancers.”
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A range of functional milk proteins developed by Arla Foods Ingredients, Basking Ridge, N.J. (phone 613-756-1202, www.arlafoodingredients.com), makes it possible for food manufacturers to reduce the salt content of their processed cheese products by up to 65%. The Nutrilac® proteins offer excellent emulsification properties, which mean they can replace the emulsifying salts normally used to achieve a stable texture in spreadable, block, and sliceable processed cheeses, as well as cheese sauce products. This results in a significant reduction of sodium levels in the end product.
S.K. Patil & Associates, Munster, Ind. (phone 219-922-1033, www.skpatilassociates.com), takes a novel sodium reduction strategy that uses nanotechnology. SALiTe™ is a low-sodium nanoparticle ingredient made from regular salt and a bulking agent. According to the company, regular salt is not soluble in saliva because of its high density and large particle size. When these particles are sprinkled on foods for immediate consumption or during further processing, they provide low-intensity, long-lasting, spotty salty taste. Nanoparticles, however, dissolve faster and reduce the concentration of salt in dry snacks where salt and spices are applied to the surface or coated on the snacks. The new ingredient delivers a much improved dissolution, providing equal salty taste as tabletop salt, by a reduction of salt particles to nanoparticle size, which results in a significant lowering of sodium intake with the effect of normal salting on topical applications. Key features of the ingredient include the fact that it can be co-blended with spices, flavors, colors, and flow agents; increases salt dispersion while enhancing salt sensation in the mouth; and is stable in all topical applications while imparting increased shelf life.
Available as a white powder, it serves as an excellent 1:1 replacement for regular salt in tabletop salts, potato chips, corn chips, pretzels, popcorn, French fries, crackers, baked goods, and other products that have salt in spice mixtures for surface applications. The sodium reduction effect is 25% to as much as more than 50%, depending on the food substrate. Another benefit of SALiTE is that it does not impart a typical bitter taste of current salt substitutes such as potassium and magnesium salts.
And what more literal sign of the “mushrooming” of salt-reduction strategies than going directly to the source itself: mushrooms, of course. Research shows that while mushroom extracts serve as a base for soups and sauces, they can also be used as an effective salt reduction tool. Netherlands-based Scelta Mushrooms (phone +31-77-3241020, www.sceltamushrooms.com) noted that salt can be reduced in different products by up to 50% with a range of mushroom concentrates between 0.06% and 0.7%.
The Next Steps in the Evolution of Sweeteners
As in the case of salt levels, the food industry continues to search for ways to reduce sugar levels while retaining the same perception of the original foods. Earlier this article mentioned the efforts of TIC Gums to mimic the texture, body, and adhesiveness that is lost when sugar is taken out of a formulation.
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Scientists from the Dutch research group NIZO (phone +31 318659511, www.nizo.com) have found that by alternating levels of taste intensities in the mouth, they can help reduce sugar levels (as well as salt levels). Their findings, published in the journal Chemical Senses, may provide an alternative solution to the use of traditional sugar replacers.
The NIZO researchers investigated the effect of concentration changes of the sweetener sucrose on the perceived sweetness intensity. They found that the perceived sweetness intensity increased with the magnitude of the sucrose concentration contrast. By using what they called a “Gustometer,” the tongues of subjects were exposed to a continuous flow of water with “pulsating tastants” (alternating taste concentrations) at well-defined concentrations. When stimulated with these alternating taste concentrations, the subjects in the study reported higher average taste intensities than when they received a continuous stimulation with the same level of “tastant.” The perceived sweetness intensity was found to increase as the size of contrast in sucrose levels got larger.
“The pulsatile stimulus with the highest concentration difference (average sucrose concentration: 60 g/L) was rated as the sweetest despite the fact that the gross sucrose concentrations were identical over stimuli. Moreover, this stimulus was rated equally sweet as a continuous reference of 70 g/L sucrose,” noted the researchers. “In subsequent studies, tastant distributions in foods were optimized to achieve a similar tastant pulsation in the mouth.
Novel sweeteners are also being developed that focus on delivering anti-diabetic effects. For example, SemperSan—a special Austrian invention which would be new to the U.S. market—is described as a sweet whey permeate sugar. Regular intake of this ingredient is said to regenerate destroyed insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, stabilizing the blood sugar level, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes. This was shown in animal studies and in vitro models.
Successful trials have been carried out in reducing the lactose content almost completely. Also, industrial trials of the manufacturing process were successfully carried out as well as application tests of SemperSan syrup in confectionery products and nonalcoholic beverages. “Using SemperSan in the production of food, either as an alternative or admixture to industrial sugar, glucose syrup, or high intensity sweetener would enable the food industry to address diabetes (right from the onset of the metabolic syndrome) in a preventive way through the consumption of mass food products such as soft drinks, dairy products, confections, and others,” emphasized representatives from S.u.K. Beteiligungs GmbH (phone +43-1-66 79 472, www.sempersan.com), the company responsible for developing this new sweetener. The company is currently looking for partners in the U.S.
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A diabetic-friendly sugar, Sugir, developed by ATM Metabolics, Winter Haven, Fla., will soon be added to popular breads and cereals. The sweetener contains Emulin, a formulation of compounds found in fruits such as grapefruit and berries. Studies have shown that the tasteless additive can block the absorption of sugar by more than 30% and may have the potential to reverse diabetes. It works by slowing the conversion of complex carbohydrates to simple sugars as well as reducing sugar absorption from the gut to the bloodstream while stimulating absorption from the bloodstream to muscle tissue. “By having Emulin in the food supply, we will see a rapid reduction in obesity and diabetes rates,” said Joseph Ahrens, Vice President of ATM Metabolics. “Much like what folate in breads did for birth defect rates, Emulin will be able to do the same for obesity and diabetes rates, which continue to skyrocket in the United States.”
Sweeteners having properties that can address the diabetes epidemic come at a very important time. The International Diabetes Federation revealed the results of a new study predicting that one in 10 adults could have diabetes by 2030. The report also estimated that more than 500 million people could be diagnosed with diabetes in the next two decades.
Producer and marketer of high purity stevia ingredients, PureCircle USA, Oak Brook, Ill. (phone 630-361-0374, www.purecircle.com), has increased production of its new “breakthrough ingredient,” PureCircle Alpha, in response to market demand. The ingredient is described as a proprietary combination of steviol glycosides, with a clean, sugar-like taste capable of achieving deeper calorie reduction in foods and beverages. It was officially launched in September 2011.
“We have learned that Reb A is not the right solution for all product applications,” explained Jason Hecker, PureCircle’s Vice President Global Marketing & Innovation. “Our search for a better-performing stevia sweetener led us to PureCircle Alpha, which has unquestionably become the next generation of stevia beyond Reb A.” The first products sweetened with the new ingredient are expected on shelves in the second half of 2012. In preparation for these products, the company’s Global Technical Center developed dozens of ready-to-go formulations across food and beverage categories, including carbonated soft drinks, tea, and dairy products. Rigorous testing and sensory evaluation have shown an improved taste and sweetness profile compared with other stevia ingredients.
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Sweet Green Fields, Bellingham, Wash. (phone 360-483-4555, www.sweetgreenfields.com), was recently granted a U.S. patent covering the company’s highly efficient method for extracting Rebaudioside A. The company claims that its proprietary extraction method is 33–50% faster than the industry’s conventional methods, resulting in a much more efficient and cost-effective process. Known as the “Fast Precipitation Process,” the procedure draws Reb A out of a mid-grade stevia extract and turns it into a highly purified Reb A powder of 95% purity grade and higher. Another key differentiator is said to be the process’s reliance on water and food-grade ethanol for the extraction, as opposed to methanol or wood alcohol. “This patent is significant because prior to this, the stevia industry’s published methods have long relied on methanol as part of the extraction process, and these methods were time consuming and costly,” observed Mel Jackson, the company’s Vice President of Science and the creator of the patented process.
At ISM 2012, BENEO Group, Morris Plains, N.J. (phone 973-867-2140, www.beneo.com), a division of the Sudzucker Group, demonstrated new sweetener solutions that combine stevia with beet-derived sweetening ingredients. By combining BENEO’s functional bulk sweeteners with stevia, a variety of nutritional and health benefits can be achieved without compromising the taste and mouthfeel of the end product. For example, BENEO highlighted a tooth-friendly and fully digestible chewing gum made with Palatinose™ (isomaltulose) and stevia. The ingredient combination demonstrates a sugar-like sweetness that successfully masks the licorice-like aftertaste sometimes associated with stevia. The company also featured an herbal-flavored sugar-free candy with Isomalt and stevia. The combination of these sweeteners supports a wide range of flavors without any negative aftertaste, ensuring a refined taste profile over the lifetime of the product. Achieving balanced taste sensations with the stevia-bulk sweetener combinations have been made possible by specialists at the BENEO Technology Center.
Closing with Condiments
This article has focused on a variety of emerging ingredients—and there were so many others that could have been included, ranging from whole-grain developments to fats and oils. But I thought it would be interesting to close this article on a product category, and after careful consideration I selected condiments as a particularly exciting one from an emerging ingredient perspective.
After all, there was a time when there were basically three condiments: ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. As noted by the Foodservice Research Institute, these products were basically pretty simple and undoctored when it came to flavor. Gradually, this list of “no-frills” condiments grew with the addition of BBQ sauce in the early eighties and Ranch and Caesar shortly after. Flavor variations for all condiments blossomed in the nineties and have exploded in recent years.
Take ketchup, which has seen a number of reinventions. Recently, MM Group of Wisconsin, the creators of Leroy’s Gourmet Flavored Ketchup, has introduced two new flavors, Crispy Bacon Flavored Ketchup (that’s pretty self-explanatory, I think) and the rather mysterious-sounding Ghost Pepper & Aged Cheddar Flavored Ketchup. The latter pairs Bhut Jolokia—known as the world’s hottest pepper, having 100 times the heat of Tabasco or Jalapeno—with an aged cheddar that calms down the heat just enough not “to burn your mouth, yet wake you up in a big way.”
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The mayonnaise category has also grown up, with a burgeoning of flavor variations and an increase in presentation platforms. A check of the Menuvine database produced no less than 90 mayonnaise flavor variations on restaurant menus. These products were enhanced by spices (garlic, saffron, cumin, red pepper, sage, red curry, sesame, ginger, paprika, lemon pepper, and peppercorns); herbs (basil/pesto, cilantro, fennel, rosemary, and tarragon); peppers (ancho, jalapeno, sriracha, chimichurri, red, sweet, poblano, and chipotle); fruit (apple, avocado, lemon, mango, lime, cranberry, and citrus); vegetables (sweet relish, watercress, scallions, capers, olives, horseradish, and wasabi); tomatoes (sun dried, roasted, and smoked); cheese (blue and parmesan); and a variety of others including Dijon, sherry, honey, buffalo sauce, spicy, and teriyaki sauce.
And let’s not forget butter, which at one time came in two versions—salted and unsalted. But that is no longer the case. Or should I say no longer so “pat”? Flavor-infused butters can now be found in grocery stores nationwide. For example, from Twisted Butter, comes a spreadable blend of salted butter, canola oil, and other ingredients in six flavors including Blueberry, Honey & Lemon Zest ; Cinnamon, Honey & Brown Sugar ; Cilantro & Lime; Chives & Parsley; Portobello Mushroom with Boursin Garlic & Fine Herb Cheese; and Bacon, Dijon Mustard & Green Onion. Trader Joe’s offers a Garlic & Herb Butter, and Country Crock introduced three flavor-infused butters, Honey Spread, Cinnamon Spread, and Pumpkin Spice Spread.
And this category keeps broadening in a variety of directions. Some of them involve flavor combinations, of course. In its Flavor Forecast 2012, McCormick and Co., Hunt Valley, Md. (phone 410-527-9753. www.mccormick.com), noted that culinary trailblazers are cooking outside the lines by discovering, reinventing, and even playing with food. The forecast included a couple of prototype condiments to give this “no boundaries approach” some food for thought. Imagine, for example, an Indonesian sweet soy sauce called kecap manis. Described as a savory-sweet, molasses-like sauce, it can be paired with black pepper and tamarind to “bring new inspiration to a condiment culture,” especially as a steak sauce. Or how about naturally sweet honey combined with the fiery North African condiment, harissa, which can add a special intensity to dishes such as Eggplant and Goat Cheese Torte.
Wixon Inc., St. Francis, Wis. (phone 414-769-3000, www.wixon.com), developed a line of seasonings for sauces and dips, as well as snacks. For sauces and dips, there’s fiery harissa, which may be combined with chile peppers, lemon, cumin, garlic, and coriander for a rich medley of tastes. Fresh Roasted Cumin Aioli Sauce features garlic, cumin, sun-dried tomato, and the zest of lemon. And Guajillo Fusion Sour Cream Sauce provides a surprising blend of Guajillo chile pepper, roasted garlic, vinegar, and umami mix with sweet chile and honey. For snacks, the company created Zippy Chinese Mustard (sharp mustard with a touch of honey), Sricha Hot & Alarming Chile, Zesty Sweet & Sour, Habanero BBQ, and Classic Soy Sauce.
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Other condiments are breaking new ground in the area of better-for-you benefits. Earlier in this article, we looked at a good example of one futuristic kind of condiment—the Purdue University development in which consumers may someday be able to sprinkle vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds right onto their meals much like they previously would sprinkle salt, pepper, or a condiment blend.
And as described in the June 2012 Ingredients section, a better-for-you mayonnaise may be available in the near future. This will be made possible by an omega-9 sunflower oil from Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, Ind. (phone 317-337-4142, www.omega9oils.com). This product is described as the first saturated-fat-free oil, has zero trans fats, and is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
As a pointy-eared Vulcan friend of mine would say, these possibilities are fascinating. So who knows what’s next as we consider the possibilities of ingredients going where no ingredient has gone before. I guess we’ll just have to wait until next year’s installment to find out what this next batch of developments is. But something tells me that we won’t have to wait even that long.
What will chocolate be like in the year 2100? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Perhaps some of the answers may be found here, as we look at some of the emerging directions that chocolate can take for future formulating. Chocolate inhalers. Chocolate enriched with pea proteins. New chocolate beverages and desserts. And that’s only the beginning. If you care to make your predictions on the future of chocolate—and you’re an IFT member—visit www.ift.org, type in your name and password, click on the IFT Community button, and go to the blog section. These chocolates may know no bounds and are definite examples of “thinking outside the chocolate box.”
Chocolate for the Future
I think it’s safe to say that most people would perceive chocolate as a traditional food—one that provides comfort, indulgence, and a versatility in applications that include confections, ice creams, beverages, and even savory products such as sauces. And, of course, especially in more recent times, studies are looking at the potential health benefits of dark chocolate.
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But I would argue that chocolate—with all its continuing innovations—could easily be perceived as a futuristic food, as a good example of an ingredient that is “going where no ingredient has gone before.” (Emerging ingredients that belong in such a category happen to be the subject of the 2012 July Ingredients section, and this blog post on chocolate for the future makes for a good tie-in.)
Fans of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” will quickly note that chocolate not only survives the next centuries, but it flourishes there, being used in a wide range of dishes from planets throughout the galaxy. It’s easy to believe that when you consider the way chocolate keeps evolving in terms of functionality, health benefits, and the taste and texture properties it provides. Here are a few examples of some of the “futuristic” benefits that chocolate can provide.
Over the past year, Switzerland-based Barry Callebaut (phone +41 43 204 04 04, www.barry-callebaut.com), a leading manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products, developed several innovations that can have an impact on chocolate products for the future. Consider a new lactose-free milk chocolate launched in Europe that differs from existing offerings by using a special skimmed milk powder with reportedly the lowest lactose content available on the market. With this development, Barry Callebaut can allow higher amounts of milk powder in its recipe, which preserves all the goodness from the milk, resulting in a similar taste as regular milk chocolate.
Cacao Barry, a global brand of Barry Callebaut, introduced Zephyr™, a new generation of white chocolate for pastry chefs and chocolatiers in the U.S. This “modern” white chocolate recipe was created in response to growing demand for a less sweet and more fluid white chocolate. A balance of whole-some milk and rich cocoa butter taste, it offers roundness and smoothness that is suitable for molding, enrobing, macaroons, fillings, mousse preparations, and pastry applications.
Also making its debut from Barry Callebaut are ChocMelts™, described as the first soft-melting ice cream inclusion made from 100% chocolate. Unlike standard compound-based drops, these inclusions offer the intense flavor and texture of genuine chocolate. Because they melt together with ice cream, they release a much richer and more intense chocolate taste than regular chocolate ice cream inclusions. The crystalline structure of the cocoa butter ensures a pure chocolate experience, even at the low temperatures of ice cream.
Care for a chocolate drink? A tea beverage perhaps? How about a “chocolate tea beverage,” which adds a luxury and decadent perception to an already popular tea beverage? Chocolate tea formulations were developed by Virginia Dare, Brooklyn, N.Y. (phone 718-788-1776, www.virginiadare.com). The new chocolate flavors, coupled with the company’s natural black tea flavors, impart a distinctive chocolate scent and taste. Chocolate teas are the color of traditional black tea, as the flavors do not add significant color to the already relatively dark beverage. The finished beverage is 10 brix, providing approximately 100 calories per 8-oz serving. The formulations currently use a low level of citric acid and are sweetened with cane sugar.
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Chocolate formulations can be enriched with pea protein, Nutralys®, from Roquette America, Geneva, Ill. (phone 630-463-9430, www.roquette.com). Because of its amino acid profile and dispersibility, the ingredient can boost the nutritional profile of chocolate without changing the chocolate’s texture, melt character, or taste. According to Kate Jacobsen, the company’s Senior Project Coordinator for Confectionery Applications, the pea protein can be added to chocolate at up to 16% without affecting processing conditions. She noted, “Even at the high inclusion rate of protein, standard temperatures and time used for mixing, refining, conching, and tempering the chocolate require absolutely no changes.” The powdered ingredient has a digestibility similar to that of animal protein and is a purified protein source with no residual complex sugars. It has 98% digestibility, and as a powdered ingredient, it has excellent flow and dispersion properties. Chocolate made with the pea protein can be used literally any place that standard chocolate is currently used, and it offers opportunities for chocolate manufacturers to expand their reach into the health and wellness-based consumer market segments.
Flavanols are a group of natural compounds that are particularly abundant in cocoa. A significant body of published research has shown that consumption of cocoa flavanols can improve the performance of the circulatory system and may help support cardiovascular health. In collaboration with leading scientific institutes, Mars Inc. has been pursuing extensive research to advance understanding of cocoa flavanols for more than 20 years. (Using this knowledge, Mars scientists have developed a proprietary Cocoapro® process that helps to retain the flavanols found naturally inside the cocoa bean, which are usually destroyed during normal processing.) Most recently, collaborative research by Mars and the University of California at Davis has provided important new insights into the distinct roles of flavanols and procyanidins in the human body. The findings significantly advance understanding of how these phytonutrients may work in the body to exert cardiovascular health. Hagen Schroeter, study author and director of fundamental health and a nutrition researcher at Mars Inc., commented, “The differences between the absorption and metabolism of flavanols and procyanidins, as demonstrated by the research, may prompt changes in how scientists design and interpret epidemiological investigations and in vitro studies to more meaningfully reflect what happens in the body. Furthermore, the fact that our results mean that it is unlikely that procyanidins exert direct effects on blood vessel function, may lead researchers to focus specifically on studying the mechanisms by which flavanols—and perhaps even gamma-valerolactones—affect cardiovascular health.”
When talking about the future directions that chocolate may be taking, we have to close with the mind of Harvard Professor David Edwards who a couple years back developed Le Whif, described as a one-calorie “breathable chocolate.” The small tube of chocolate that consumers breathe into their mouths attracted global attention when it was disclosed in April 2009. More recently, the same David Edwards created a new edible packaging technology that allows individuals to eat and transport food without plastic. Called WikiCells, the packaging encloses food in an edible membrane. (See the Ingredients section for details.) One of the applications possible is a chocolate membrane containing hot chocolate.
It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the chocolate innovations showcased in episodes from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” weren’t created by ancestors of Edwards. Or people with that kind of futuristic vision. Imagine Edwards’ ancestors, in collaboration with Vulcans, creating a new logic food made with chocolate. Not sure what that would exactly be, but the possibilities are endless.
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Well, it’s time now for me to use my communicator. Calling all you chocolatiers out there. You may have your own ideas on some of the emerging directions that chocolate is taking. If so, let’s do a choco-chat. That, by the way, is a version of IngredienTalk.
Donald E. Pszczola,