Texture is being discovered. Or more precisely “rediscovered” by today’s food formulators. And on their voyages of exploration, these “Columbuses” are using more sophisticated—and disciplined—approaches to arrive at a better understanding of texture and how this attribute can be better “mapped out” in its expansion into new territories.
It isn’t that texture was an unknown attribute. You can probably go to any food dictionary and find a basic definition. For example, the Dictionary of Food Science and Technology defines texture as “sensory properties relating to the feel of a surface or product, or the impression created by a surface structure or the general physical appearance of a surface. A major factor affecting the mouthfeel and quality of a food.” And according to Food Science, 4th edition, by Norman N. Potter, “Texture refers to those qualities of food that we can feel either with the fingers, the tongue, the palate, or the teeth. The range of textures in foods is very great, and the departure from an expected texture is a quality defect.”
Over the years, much attention has been spent on the development of flavors and colors in product formulation, but texture seems to have been taken mostly for granted, perhaps even regarded as an afterthought. And yet texture is as important as flavor and color to the success of a product in the marketplace.
Why then has texture, one of the most basic attributes of food sensory experiences, been underutilized in food product design? Hopefully, answers to that question will be forthcoming as several companies share their approaches to texture and the ingredients they provide that address textural challenges in food formulating. One reason might be that there hasn’t been an organized, structured framework for developing texture. Because there was not a commonly accepted language for discussing it, texture descriptions were frequently unclear or vague, lacking in a precise meaning and unable to help correct the formulation. And while texturizing ingredients such as starches and gums have been around for a long time, the appropriate tools and methodology may not have been. Take, for example, the recording of sound that particular coatings make in your mouth. These decibel maps or “crunch prints” can help provide a new understanding of texture. (See caption on page 64 for more information.)
Another reason that texture is becoming new news in recent years is that, to put it in simple terms, its time may have arrived. Many of today’s challenges—whether they be gluten-free formulating or the reduction of sugar or the balancing of fats—directly involve texture, as these products need to be developed without compromising that attribute. Texture, in that sense, is on equal terms with flavor and color. To develop products that will succeed in the marketplace requires that texture rises to the occasion.
Also, because of economic reasons or a growing consumer demand for a particular ingredient, alternatives to that ingredient are being sought. This means that these ingredients have to provide comparable textural qualities, and so again texture has to be considered.
Let’s now look at how some companies are approaching texture and the solutions they are bringing to the table.
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Crinchy—a rather distinctive term used to describe the texture experience between crunchy and crispy—was created by sensory scientists from what was then National Starch Food Innovation and is now Ingredion Inc., Westchester, Ill. (phone 866-961-6285, www.ingredion.us/specialties).
A few years ago, the first time I heard this term, it was easy to see the directions the company was taking toward rediscovering texture and the subsequent approach to texture understanding and formulation that it was pioneering.
That one simple word, in fact, may have stimulated the opening of many new doors regarding texture, giving that once overlooked attribute a new invigoration and rise in importance, especially in relation to those attributes that had previously dominated food formulation, such as flavor and color. “Crinchy” was one of the early signs of a new food texture language that would offer more precise ways to characterize texture and describe its measurable attributes. And since that addition to the texture vocabulary, Ingredion has continued to develop and fine-tune an integrated approach in its translation of the texture experience.
In particular, that would mean the creation of its Dial-In™ Texture Technology, a comprehensive data-driven modeling approach to food texture design and optimization. Described by the company as “the shortest path to the perfect texture,” it enables food and beverage manufacturers to target and achieve the precise food texture they desire in their product, in a fraction of the time it takes for typical texture explorations. And by doing so, the company claims, food texture is elevated to a status equal to that of flavor in the product development process.
Dial-In is derived from the integration of core capabilities in consumer insights, material science, sensory evaluation, and application and processing knowledge. By selecting or “dialing in” the appropriate level and intensity of the individual attributes desired, the manufacturer is able to rapidly optimize the texture system in an application.
One of the major steps involved in the process is to gather consumer insights. Consumers use such terms as “creamy,” “luscious,” and “crunchy” to describe the multifaceted texture experience of foods. However, consumer language is broad and sometimes hard to measure. To help overcome the challenge of interpreting descriptors in a way that is meaningful to food formulators, Ingredion developed the Texicon™ food texture language. Trained inhouse sensory expert descriptive panels and experts in rheology and materials science utilize this language to translate those visual, audible, and oral consumer terms into fundamental expert terms that can be quantified for intensity, such as mouthcoating, viscosity, and graininess. By translating the consumer experience of food texture into actionable, precise, and measurable sensory attributes, the texture profile of the product can be targeted and achieved.
Texture mapping then plays an important part. To determine the key textural attributes for a specific application, sensory experts characterize a number of commercial products that represent a range of textural diversity. These are plotted according to sensory and food rheology attributes relative to each other in a texture map and their similarities and differences are identified. The map reveals how the product compares against the competition—where the product fits in within the product category, and where its textural attributes such as mouthfeel can be improved on or differentiated.
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With this information, analysts assess ingredient interaction and performance. They know exactly how to help the manufacturer transform or enhance texture to meet a target or maintain texture when ingredients are reduced, removed, or added for cost or nutritional improvement. This leads to fast-track innovation in prototype development, and in turn, these prototypes can be quickly put into the hands of consumers for preference testing.
For example, the sensory team recently generated the data that led to special and differentiated textures for cracker and chip markets. The food texture language for these markets included terms such as hardness, fracturability, and duration of sound. These terms, along with many others, guide food formulators to help achieve the desired texture. With this critical understanding—and Ingredion’s broad portfolio of snack and cracker texturizers—the applications team has created a broad range of textures that are suitable for sheeted baked crackers and fabricated chips.
Ingredion’s state-of-the-art facility, Texture Center of Excellence, in Bridgewater, N.J., houses teams of scientific researchers, food application experts, and chefs who use the Dial-In Texture Technology to create a broad range of texture solutions and on-trend food concepts.
Many of Ingredion’s latest innovations in texture—the results of the creative Dial-In process—could be seen at the 2012 IFT Food Expo®. Take, for example, gluten-free pancakes made with Homecraft® GF 10, a co-processed gluten-free flour that gave the pancakes the texture consumers expect without the dry, gritty qualities so often found in gluten-free formulations. (As a texturizing ingredient, flour has always been preferred by chefs and product developers for the characteristics it lends to prepared foods. However, the processing difficulties associated with flour have made it problematic in certain foods, particularly high-moisture applications. Functional flours under the Homecraft brand maintain the positive attributes of traditional flours. They are versatile, lending opacity, flavor, mouthfeel, glossy appearance, and the smooth, pourable texture of flour.)
Another prototype on display at the Food Expo was an indulgent dairy dessert made with new Novation Indulge 3340, described as a texture system that delivers a thick and creamy, gelled texture, when desired, in cultured dairy products. It enables dairy product manufacturers to produce a range of healthy and indulgent dairy products on conventional stirred yogurt equipment, while possibly reducing production time and costs. This system provides a solution for manufacturers “looking to reduce fat and calories to provide consumers with clean label, healthier alternatives that deliver the same taste and texture profiles they expect from traditional indulgent dairy products,” noted Leslie Carr, the company’s Marketing Director. The texture system may also be used in fermented dairy products such as yogurt and sour cream where it’s desired to increase the gel strength and firmness of final products while providing clean melt-away and fatlike textural characteristics. It is resistant to high temperature, high shear, and low pH, and is also characterized as having good cold temperature stability and providing a smooth, creamy texture. The dessert highlighted at the Food Expo featured an exotic lucuma fruit topping made with Novation Prima 600 functional native starch. When cooked, this starch imparts a smooth, short, heavy-bodied texture that does not set to a gel. The textural properties closely resemble those of modified starches. Therefore, only minor adjustments in formulation should be necessary to replace modified starches in most food systems. Novation Prima 600 adds texture and stability to a wide variety of food products that undergo low to moderate heat and shear conditions in processing at a neutral pH. In addition, because of its added stability, it will not change texture over time or through distribution. This makes it ideally suited for products such as frozen and refrigerated entrees, shelf-stable soups or desserts, dairy products, and fruit preparations.
Queso Salsa Yogurt Spread for fish tacos made with a Greek-style yogurt containing Novation® Indulge 3320 texture system was also show-cased at the Food Expo. This functional native starch can be used to create Greek-style yogurt products that match traditional textures while providing a clean label. It offers a variety of benefits, including enhanced rich and creamy textures and traditional-style firmness and thickness. It can function as a fat mimetic in reduced-, low-, and nonfat products and provides resistance to high temperature, high shear, and low pH.
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Another Food Expo prototype, a South African Curry Stir Fry with Beef, featured Novation® Prima 300, a functional native starch with exceptional freeze-thaw stability.
Ingredion offers a wide variety of other texturizing systems in its portfolio. For example, Precisa® Cream optimized texture systems provide key textural attributes that contribute to creaminess while delivering desired viscosity. These systems are especially important for use in reduced-, low-, or nonfat applications such as soups, sauces, dips, yogurt, and sour cream to provide the mouthfeel of a higher-fat product. While enhancing creaminess and opacity in these applications, they can improve their nutritional profiles by reduction of cream, butter, and total fat. Precisa Cling provides excellent cling for dressings and sauces; improves suspension of herbs, garnishes, and particulates; increases thickness and body without pastiness; and reduces or replaces costly ingredients such as soy oil, tomato solids, and dairy cream.
According to Ingredion, ultimately, the Dial-In Technology combines the art and science of food formulation, translating consumer needs and sensory preferences into food systems that elevate the “eating experience.” The result is an optimized, robust food texture solution that minimizes the time involved with trial and error, reduces time to market and product development costs, and delivers a consistent eating experience for consumers.
The name Ingredion is the culmination of a long-term growth strategy that included Corn Products’ acquisition of National Starch in 2010. Implicit in the company’s new tagline, “Developing Ideas. Delivering Solutions™,” is its commitment to creating textures that consumers have come to expect from traditional formulations and rediscovering how texture can play a key role in the development of products that offer improved nutrition content, maximized value, clean labels, and on-trend solutions.
‘A Revolutionary Initiative’
On the surface, texture may seem like old news, but after lengthy discussions with developers and marketers at many companies, TIC Gums Inc., White Plains, Md. (phone 410-273-7300, www.ticgums.com), reportedly came to realize that few are actually approaching texture design in a disciplined and deliberate manner. “So, we’ve taken a step back; instead of focusing on products, we’re focusing on tools and methodology—particularly language,” noted the company.
In June 2011, the company introduced the Texture Revolution™, an initiative designed to “create a more objective and actionable framework for texture manipulation,” explained Greg Andon, TIC Gums President. Or to put it more simply, this systematic approach was developed so that formulators could talk about food texture in a way that is more concrete and therefore more useful in daily formulation.
Texture can make or break a food experience. Yet ironically the true importance of texture was frequently overlooked in the early stages of food product development, and manipulating texture was often not part of a product design criteria. Other than formulating to a target viscosity, the deliberate design of texture was nearly always absent, with texture being regarded as more of an “afterthought.” Furthermore, product developers were often handicapped by the lack of an agreed-upon language to describe texture, and were equally challenged by the fact that texture cannot be added at the end of the design process, but rather had to be considered much earlier in the process if the product was to be successful in the marketplace.
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TIC Gums reasoned that with more specific ways to communicate common understanding of desired texture experiences, better food products could be invented and delivered more efficiently than before. Consequently, the approach that the company developed would allow formulators to plan and manipulate textures at the very beginning of the formulation process, and would include, as one of the initiative’s supporting tools, a far more powerful vocabulary for describing the textural attributes that formulators want to achieve in new or reformulated food products. This vocabulary—or Texture Lexicon as the company calls it—was developed by a team within TIC Gums. Hundreds of marketplace products were evaluated and the various attributes they exhibited were consolidated into the lexicon. A big part of the process was clarifying terms, eliminating overlap, and identifying those products that best demonstrate a specific attribute.
The extensive lexicon serves as a development tool for food scientists, as it addresses important textural issues through the whole sensory experience with a food product, and its use can provide a number of benefits. These can include reducing development time, as desired textural characteristics are defined along with product concept and flavor goals earlier in the development process; revealing the true benefits of texture, as it elevates texture to a level where the maximum benefits are noticed; eliminating guesswork about choosing the “right” texture; enhancing flavor perception, as better texture conveyed earlier in the development process improves the way flavor is delivered and perceived; and differentiating products, as manipulating texture is another way to deliver perception and product differentiation and is often more affordable than other possibilities.
Furthermore, the lexicon is accompanied by attribute maps for many individual food products. These maps characterize, document, and help developers articulate the sensory experiences associated with many different food and beverage products, including liquid, semi-solid, and solid. These texture maps serve as a step-by-step documentation of key textural attributes encountered as foods are visually evaluated; as they are experienced mechanically, such as during spreading; and as they are experienced orally during chewing and swallowing. The texture terms have very specific definitions and are based on language very similar to that used by sensory evaluation professionals.
With the lexicon and texture maps as its tools, the Texture Revolution uses a six-step procedure that emphasizes the importance of texture from the start of a formulation. This process is said to be very different from the traditional approach that isolates product concept, prototype development, and consumer evaluations. Instead, it is a collaborative process that brings all functions together early, and gives them a much improved descriptive language to help plan and refine formulations. The six steps include the following: 1) define product’s market segment; 2) evaluate multiple products in the segment using detailed textural criteria; 3) define the critical texture attributes for products in that segment; 4) define the target textures that will differentiate the product; 5) develop prototype’s texture system concurrently with other formulation elements such as flavor; and 6) validate formula with consumer sensory evaluations.
In addition to the lexicon and texture maps, another major tool in the process is TIC Gums’ broad portfolio of texturizing and stabilizing ingredients for use in the formulation. As the company notes, the question of which gums provide which attributes doesn’t always have a simple answer. Each gum can behave differently depending on finished product formulation, processing, and storage environment. Take creaminess, for example. Creaminess is actually an integrated term built of three basic attributes—thickness, mouth-coating, and mouth-clearing. Most gums contribute to thickness, but specific gums are required to manipulate the other two attributes. Also, the type of gum used to increase creaminess depends on the application. Demonstrations rely on different agents to build the texture of each product with each gum system affecting these three attributes in different ways. While they all may be “creamy,” they are all different from each other.
Food scientists in the Texture Innovation Center at TIC Gums headquarters will work with developers to find the right blend of gums and other texture agents that will achieve the desired outcome, rather than rely on specific gums. This is changing the way the food industry approaches texture.
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According to Andon, the Texture Revolution has set a foundation from which the company has tackled the need for defining basic textural attributes and their applicability in various food categories. Over the past year, the company has taken several major steps forward in utilizing this new tool to solve formulation challenges.
One example was facing the challenge of reducing sugar content in product categories such as beverages, cereal bars, and bakery glazes. “As the U.S.—and the world—strive to improve nutrition and health, sugar reduction is a common challenge,” said Andon. “Much of the effort today is focused on the resulting change in sweetness, but sugar does so much more. There are very important textural effects that need to be compensated for during a sugar-reduction program. And since texture impacts the way flavor is perceived, those effects on texture are especially important to ensure consumer acceptability.”
Andon continued, “Sugar is unique in another important way. It often contributes to product stabilization by thickening, binding, adhering, or forming a film. It is this difficult combination of texture, its impact on sweetness, perception, and stabilizing functionality that makes sugar reduction such an interesting and appropriate challenge on which to apply the principles of our Texture Revolution. By characterizing the basic attributes of texture with control sugar levels, we now have a process to measure textural changes as we formulate a hydrocolloid system to replace functional properties such as thickness or adhesion. In the past, the work was done less objectively, and today our texture mapping process provides actionable feedback to our formulators, and ultimately a better end product.”
At the Food Expo, TIC Gums used its texture lexicon as a basis for demonstrating 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. The Food Technology August 2012 article, “What Makes a Winning Ingredient,” describes four new gum systems that can accomplish this end, with each one useful for texture, stability, or both in certain reduced-sugar applications. See that article for further details on these systems, which include Ticaloid Syrup SF1, Ticaloid Syrup OC1, Add-Here 3200, and Add-Here CSA.
TIC Gums has also applied its texture lexicon in the development of hydrocolloid systems that mimic the qualities of guar gum, the price and availability of which has been difficult to predict. The company demonstrated corn bread, tomato soup, and sweetened tea formulated both with and without guar gum at a seminar held in Chicago this past August. The outcomes were said to have similar textural qualities to guar, but without using any guar. For the tomato soup and corn bread, the company used Ticaloid® GR 5420, a blend of gums that does not include any guar.
The principles of the Texture Revolution have also been applied to the manipulation of texture in dairy products. Repositioning dairy products to appeal to the health-conscious consumer while still providing indulgent textures was one of the topics of discussion during the “IDFA Milk and Cultured Dairy Conference,” held in Kansas City, Mo., in April 2012. In a presentation titled “Developing Textures in Emerging Dairy Markets,” Tristan Zuber, Regional Account Manager for TIC Gums, spoke on how dairy product designers and development scientists can add value and positive distinctions to their products by manipulating texture, even slightly. The best designs are those that include the plan for texture early in the development process. “Texture is important to the acceptance of dairy products as is flavor. And there are ways to manipulate it to fit the types of products under development,” said Zuber. For example, a beverage for recovery after a vigorous workout needs to be experienced as light and refreshing, not heavy or indulgent. “Utilizing the lexicon can determine texture targets, help to reduce the time it takes to develop successful products, and drive likability in the finished product.”
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In 2011, TIC Gums developed Dairyblend MB-C, a blend of gels and gums that will stabilize chocolate milk during processing, keeping the cocoa and other solids suspended and adding viscosity and better mouth-coating for regular and low-fat products. Thicker chocolate milk that remains on the palate is possible using the gum blend without any change to the manufacturing process. The company also developed Dairyblend SC-ASC, a hydrocolloid blend that combines natural emulsifiers with traditional thickeners and gelling agents to provide sour cream with a full-bodied texture, which is especially useful for reduced-fat products.
These are just a few examples of how the Texture Revolution initiative has been applied. “Texturizing ingredients have been around for a long time,” noted the company. “However, user-friendly tools and methods haven’t. Through our Texture Revolution program, we’re reaching out to developers to provide a structured framework for developing texture.”
Cellulose Gums Provide Texture Solutions
Cellulosic food ingredients from Ashland Specialty Ingredients, Wilmington, Del. (phone 302-594-5000, www.ashland.com), can provide a number of texture solutions that help address challenges ranging from replacing guar gum in ice cream to fat replacement in fried foods.
For example, with the cost of guar gum rising and increased demand, food formulators are searching for cost-effective alternatives that will act as thickeners in a variety of food and beverage applications. Cellulose gums have been developed to enable synergy with guar to provide higher viscosity in liquid phase, moisture holding, and fast rehydration development, as well as practical application by simple dry mixing. Synergies have been demonstrated in guar gum: cellulose gum ratios, ranging from 80:20 to 40:60. This maximizes flexibility when adding cellulose gum. In addition, there is a high viscosity across a wide range of blend ratios, allowing for reduced doses of guar in the final formulation.
In ice cream, a new cellulose gum product, Aquacel GSH, is said to have outstanding viscosity synergy with guar gum to enable formulators to either replace guar gum all together or to reduce the overall doses of the total hydrocolloid in their formulations. Ashland selected leading industry expert Bruce Tharp to head a panel test of ice cream samples developed in the company’s laboratories. From a sensory perspective, Tharp was unable to detect any significant difference between ice creams using guar gum and those using cellulose gum or blends of the two. “If anything, the ice creams with cellulose gums have slightly more body, as typically seen in premium brands,” noted Tharp. “Cellulose gum has always been considered a premier stabilizer in ice cream, but historically guar gum has been cheaper. It does not surprise me that with guar prices rising, formulators are now switching back.”
A second new cellulose gum product, Aquasorb A-500, is said to have exceptional water-binding capacity. Formulators are not only seeing the guar/cellulose gum synergies, but they are also improving their products’ yield, moisture, appearance, and shelf life.
Ashland also features Benecel™ methylcellulose and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose products, which have special thermal-gelation properties to reduce oil uptake in popular fried foods, as well as improve the texture and bite of meat alternatives. Formulating fried foods with these ingredients can minimize cooking oil pickup during frying and reduce oil penetration during cooling, resulting in reduced overall fat content. The special reversible thermal gelation property can help chefs create “finger-licking moist, crisp, healthier fried foods.”
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Veggie burgers and meat substitutes are an excellent source for protein for consumers who are looking for an alternative to traditional meat. The thermal gelling properties of Benecel MC enable formulators to create tasty low-fat meat products with a desired firm moist texture, opening new doors to innovation in weight management.
Other potential uses for these ingredients and the textures they provide include the creation of gluten-free formulations; the reduction of milkfat without sacrificing creamy mouthfeel in whipped toppings; and the reduction of sugar while enhancing mouthfeel in beverages.
Textural solutions from Cargill, Wayzata, Minn. (phone 952-742-9246, www.cargill.com), can help food and beverage manufacturers develop products to address the nutritional and sensory needs of children (ages 4–18 years old). These solutions, which were highlighted at the 2012 IFT Food Expo, can deliver more “kid-friendly” tastes and textures within existing nutritious foods or in treats that have been made better-for-you.
For example, the company developed Mini Burgers to meet school lunch program requirements. The beef in the patty was extended by 40% with rehydrated Prosante® textured soy flour and Prolia® soy flour for added protein at a lower cost. Textured soy protein, an economical alternative to fresh meat and soy protein isolate, mimics meat’s natural structure, texture, and chewing properties. The patty also includes a food stabilizer system, Accubind™, which binds water and fat to give higher cook yields, facilitates the use of liquid oils with less saturated fat, and adds juiciness to reduced-fat meat products. The bun contains MaizeWise® whole-grain corn and WheatSelect white whole-wheat flour to provide 7 g of whole grain, a milder flavor, and softer texture.
Another concept for kids is a reduced-fat muffin that maintains the structure, flavor, and mouthfeel of a control full-fat sweet muffin. Incorporated into the muffin is CitriTex fat replacement system, which provides a solution for solid and liquid replacement technology and can serve as a thickening agent. The stabilizer blend allows for a 50% edible oil replacement (resulting in 40% reduction in fat), while maintaining product integrity with comparable texture, slightly higher moisture, and improved shelf life. In muffin applications, tests showed equal batter viscosity, height, and cell structure compared to the control. The final muffin product is optimized with improved moisture, spring, and shelf life.
The Role of Eggs in Texture
While eggs are known for providing protein and other nutrients, they also provide important textural properties that can improve formulations such as baked desserts. Functionality videos from the American Egg Board, Park Ridge, Ill. (phone 847-296-7043, www.aeb.org), that explore this functionality aspect of the egg can be viewed on the FunctionalEgg.org website.
As the videos explain, it is the process of denaturation followed by coagulation that enables the proteins to entrap either air or moisture and impact the mouthfeel and texture of the finished product. When air is entrapped, a foam is formed—think of meringue or the springiness of a cupcake. When water is entrapped, a gel is formed, influencing the bite of a cheesecake or the dissolving of custard.
But it is not just the protein in eggs that impacts mouthfeel and texture. Egg lipids typically play an important role as well—being able to produce a more tender, softer crumb, or a creamy, smooth filling. (Exceptions are desserts based on egg white foam because fat mixed with egg white reduces foaming ability.)
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Egg yolks are a choice emulsifier for creating baked desserts because in addition to emulsifying, they contribute rich flavor and color. “And in today’s back-to-basics, clean-ingredient-label, food-formulating environment, egg yolks appear on ingredient statements very simply: egg yolk,” noted a video. This gives egg yolks another benefit over other types of ingredients designed to replace them.
Dairy Ingredients and Texture
At the 2012 IFT Food Expo, U.S. Dairy Export Council, Arlington, Va. (phone 703-528-3049, www.innovatewithdairy.com), highlighted a number of textural uses for dairy ingredients. A portable, chewy jerky snack contained whole milk for dairy flavor, texture, and stability and Whey Protein Concentrate 80 for texture and moisture loss prevention. A milk protein concentrate was also used to improve the texture of a wafer formulation, as well as provide texture and bind water in a hummus application.
Whey proteins and other dairy-based products from Grande Custom Ingredients Group, Lomira, Wis. (phone 920-269-7188, www.grandecig.com), can provide important textural properties to a formulation.
For example, application specialists from the company created a ready-to-drink orange-mango yogurt smoothie using Grande Grade A Yogurt Powder. The shelf-stable smoothie has a thick, creamy texture and authentic taste of yogurt. The ingredient works well in frozen desserts, dips, dressings, and coatings and can help add the taste and texture of yogurt to products.
A functional whey protein ingredient, Grande Bravo®, allows formulators to replace ingredients higher in fat and calories while maintaining texture and flavor. In a low-fat Italian salad dressing, the ingredient was used to improve creamy texture and mouthfeel and maintain viscosity. According to the company, producers can create low-fat products that have a texture and mouthfeel much closer to their regular fat counterparts. In the Italian salad dressing, the textural properties of the protein eliminated the need for cooked starch pastes and improved the opacity and whiteness of the formulation. In another recent test, Grande Bravo was used to replace the cream cheese in a cheesecake recipe by 30–50%. In the finished product, calories were reduced by 8% and 12%, respectively, while fat was reduced 29% and 41%. Yet the taste profile and creamy, firm texture were maintained.
Partnerships Create New Opportunities
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, www.fiberstar.net), 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—improve texture, increase yield, and enhance mouthfeel.
One example is Hydro-Fi XCT-0123, a blend of xanthan, citrus fiber, and tara gum, which can be used as a guar gum replacement in baked goods. It is said to increase moisture retention, improve texture, increase yield, and enhance mouthfeel.
Also available from Gum Technology is the newly developed Coyote Brand Stabilizer TC-0411, a blend of tara gum and cellulose gum that functions as a cost-effective guar gum replacement designed for applications where viscosity and suspension are required. In ice creams, it improves overrun, reduces ice crystal size, and creates a silky and long texture. It provides a creamy mouthfeel and smooth flow out of the soft-serve ice cream dispenser.
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A recent merger between Colloides Naturels International and Bio Serae Laboratories may also create new opportunities for texture. The merger resulted in the formation of Nexira, Somerville, N.J. (phone 908-707-9400, www.nexira.com), which launched a new range of highly purified acacia gum products with enhanced properties. The attributes of this new range was achieved through a proprietary process developed to protect the natural characteristics of the gum. The acacia gum provides better transparency with reduced turbidity, which broadens the scope of applications for this natural soluble fiber.
Whipping up Texture
Texture—in combination with taste, structure, volume, and shelf life—can play a critical role in the development of bakery products and other applications that offer a healthier indulgence.
BASF, Florham Park, N.J. (phone 973-245-6000, www.nutrition.bas.com), offers Lamequick whipping agents, which provide excellent taste and pleasant mouthfeel in whipped desserts, cream fillings, cake decorating products, ice cream, and frozen desserts. Made largely from mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, these spray-dried powders can create a light and creamy texture in desserts; in decorating creams, they provide sharp edges when piping, smooth texture for spreading, and stability for serving; and when whipped up with milk or water, they produce light and creamy foams.
Also available are Spongolit aerating emulsifiers, which can ensure excellent stability, volume, and crumb structure in whipped batters for cakes.
Feeling Out the Future
The role of texture will continue to grow in importance, influenced by many factors: gluten-free formulating, weight management, convenience, ethnic cuisines, the need for ingredient alternatives, exploration of new textures, and so on.
At past Innovation Roadshows held by David Michael & Co. Inc., Philadelphia, Pa. (phone 215-632-3100, www.dmflavors.com), we have seen some of the directions that texture can take. Here are just a few examples. Putting a new spin on a classic comfort food is a chicken pot pie in the shape of a nugget. A Japanese bread crumb and pie crust batter enrobes this nugget that combines chicken with peas, carrots, leeks, and sauce. Consumers can create their own foam-topped beverages with a Cappa Foam Kit, which comes complete with a mechanical foamer, sachets of flavor, and a stabilizer. Cappa Foam is a dry powder that is mixed with milk, microwaved, and whipped with a mechanical foamer, producing a rich, dense microfoam. This flavored microfoam is then poured over espresso or coffee and will last the whole time the beverage is being enjoyed. Based on a Turkish-style ice cream, an ice cream product has a gum-like texture that can best be described as “stretchy.” And as the consumer “plays” with it, it continues to get stretchier—almost dough-like. A popular dish from Thailand, a rice dessert is made from black sticky rice and coconut milk. The black glutinous rice provides a special chewy texture.
One of the developments featured in the August 2012 article, “What Makes a Winning Ingredient,” was a new confectionery prototype—a toffee-flavored gummy—developed by Rousselot Inc., Mukwonago, Wis. (phone 262-363-6060, www.rousselot.com). Made with gelatin, Tof’Gums melts slowly in the mouth and releases its caramel flavors, while the texture isn’t sticky or chewy. And because it contains 20% less fat and 15% fewer calories than a traditional butter caramel confection, it can help meet consumer needs for a healthier candy. The gelatin in the candy provides elasticity, a melt-in-mouth feel, and increased flavor release.
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Another development featured in that article was a microalgae-derived ingredient from Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals, South San Franciso, Calif. (phone 650-243-5500, www.srnutritionals.com). Almagine HL, described as an “algal flour,” may be used to replace fat in a variety of applications without compromising texture. It can improve the texture and moisture retention of baked goods, and offers various textural options for cookies (soft/chewy, crispy/crunchy, and cake-like).
Ingredients from the portfolio of Grain Processing Corp., Muscatine, Iowa (phone 563-264-4265, www.grainprocessing.com), may be used to improve the texture of kid-friendly snacks. Prototypes such as Cheesecake Bites contained pregelatinized modified food starch (Instant Pure-Cote B792) to improve the crispness of the crust and inhibit moisture migration from the cheesecake into the crust. Pizza Rolls featured TruBran corn bran that delivered fiber with good flavor and texture. The texture of its tomato sauce filling was improved by a modified food starch (Pure-Dent B950).
A new starch-based blend from Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, Colo. (www.penfordfoods.com), may be used as an alternative to egg products in such applications as cakes, muffins, cookies, pancakes, waffles, and custard filling. PenTech™ NG’s soft texture, as well as batter viscosifier and moisture retention properties, work especially well in bakery items, including fillings.
In the March 2012 Ingredients section, several ingredients that demonstrated how texture could be used to reinvent ice cream were highlighted. For example, chocolate-covered potato chips or popcorn might be incorporated into “snack ice creams.” Or for “bakery ice creams,” you might use red velvet cheesecake pieces, cookies, cupcakes, and even pie pieces as inclusions that can add texture. And, of course, you have more traditional ingredients ranging from nuts to blueberries that can add texture as well.
Palsgaard Inc., Morris Plains, N.J. (phone 973-998-7951, www.palsgaard.com), offers new emulsifier/stabilizer blends for extruded ice cream. Extrulce 258, based on tara gum, provides a rich and creamy texture to ice cream by preventing the formation of coarse ice crystals. With a lower content of guar gum, Ice Triple adds an extremely smooth and creamy sensation, provides excellent heat shock stability that ensures a pleasant texture and mouthfeel even after repeated exposure to fluctuating temperatures, and delivers the slowest melting rate.
Texture is certainly an emerging attribute, which is why it fits in so well in the July 2012 Ingredients section on emerging developments. That article included information on scientists at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland who are studying avalanches as a way of improving the textural quality of ice cream. Also, the article covered a liquid core concept for ice cream developed by Germany-based Wild Flavors.
This article has shown that while not too long ago texture was indeed overlooked, today, more disciplined, scientific approaches are being taken to better understand texture. Through these strategies, texture is being rediscovered, and new ingredient developments are being developed that can help solve functionality problems related to texture, as well as address important challenges in the areas of gluten-free formulation, weight management, and diabetes, just to name a few.
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Texture’s day has indeed arrived. You can feel it in the air. And, of course, in the formulation itself.
Time to seed some ideas? Next month’s Ingredients section will be a suitable time as it focuses on a variety of seeds and their uses in product application.
Texture, as an attribute, has been in the spotlight lately, and there may be several reasons for its rediscovery. As Tex arrives in your town, it may be High Noon for all you formulators out there. If you think his coming may help build a reputation for your product—and if 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. Tell me if Tex is wanted in your town of Formulatorsville.
Tex Is Comin’ to Town
"Tex is comin’ to town, I hear them say,” said the first townsfolk, spitting out a wad of tobacco juice. He continued rocking in a chair, next to his two companions, who occupied similar positions in front of the county store.
“It was only a matter of time before he would get here, I reckon,” said the second townsfolk.
“He’s been building quite a reputation for hisself in these parts,” remarked the third one. “Hard to believe that not too long ago no one as fer as I could see ever heard tell of him. He could walk down this here street and no one would even notice.”
“No one would give a dang, that’s fer sure,” put in the second one.
“Like a Man With No Name, I reckon,” said the first one, spitting out another wad of tobacco juice.
“An afterthought,” laughed the second one. “Nuthin’ but an afterthought.”
“Yep, that’s the way it sure was,” agreed the third one, “although his family has been around these parts for a long time. Just been quiet like is all. You know, now that I think about it, mebbe they knew their time would come. They just bided their time until the railroad came to their land.”
“What railroad?” asked the second one, surprised. “I didn’t know that a railroad was comin’ here.”
“You goshdarn fool, I’m talkin’ about the railroad of opportunity,” explained the third one. “When that railroad comes, you just grab yourself a ride.”
“Have you been at the jug again, Jeremiah?” asked the second one.
“I think I know what Jeremiah means,” said the first one. “Times sure have changed though.” He shook his head, and all three rocked in silence for a spell.
The first one then cleared his throat. “I remember when the Flavor family ran the whole show around here,” he remarked. “When formulatin’ them thar new idears, you always considered them first. At least you better, if you knew what was good fer you.”
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“Yep, the Flavor Family—good or bad—pretty much controlled everythin’,” said the second one. “No one took them for granted. No indeedy. You needed somethin’, you had better turn to the Flavor family first. And they could be pretty wild and daring, let me tell ya.” He wheezed and settled back into his rocker.
“Did you hear what I heard?” asked the third one. “About Tex getting’ hitched to one of the Flavors?”
“Ahhh, them are just rumors,” scoffed the second one.
“I don’t know. It makes sense to me when you think about it,” argued the third one, who seemed to have a more open mind than the others. “I mean think about it. Tex and a Flavor getting married. That’s a combination for success. For the makin’ of a product with good taste you have to have Tex and Flavor these days. Otherwise, people won’t have anything to do with you.” He paused, looking over his spectacles at the other two. “At least wise, that’s the way I see it.”
“Tex is just an upstart. A young whipper-snapper,” said the second one a little angrily, but everyone knew that in his heart he couldn’t deny the truth. It was Tex’s time to crow.
“What I don’t understand is how he got to be so dang important all of a sudden,” said the first one. “Railroad or not.”
“Blasted railroad,” said the second one. “I don’t know what you two are talkin’ about.”
“I say there’s always reasons,” said the third one. “Things just don’t happen by chance.”
“Like what?” asked the second one.
“Well, for starters,” answered the third one. “Take them gluten-free products. They taste like cra…”
“Now, Jeremiah,” interrupted the second one. “When did you get so fussy and all?”
“Well, it’s true. Most of them have a dry, gritty quality. Like eatin’ sand,” persisted the third one.
“You ought to know, you old coot,” laughed the second one. “With all the time you spent in the desert prospectin’ them thar hills.”
“Then Tex brought in his guns, cleaned up that problem mighty quick, and now gluten-free products are really free to roam the range with the other better-for-you formulations,” observed the third one. “That was Tex’s doing. Let’s face it now, and give him his due.”
“Yeah, I guess you have a point there,” said the first one reluctantly. “And now I hear he’s working on them sugar-reduction products. Takin’ out sugar can create a lot of problems. Thickenin’. Bindin’. Adherin’. And all.”
“Don’t forget mouthfeel,” put in the third one.
“Anyway, he’s tackling all those problems single-handedly,” continued the first one.
“Uppity,” grunted the second one. “Old news.”
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“Now, Virgil, you have to grow with the times,” said the third one. “You know when we were kids, when we were just greenhorns I mean, well, times were different.”
“In what way?” scoffed the second one.
“For one, there was a lot of guar gum around. Remember? Now with skyrocketin’ prices and increased demand, it’s a different story,” answered the third one.
“He’s right, Virgil,” put in the first one. “Same can be said for those gum acacia products as well. Whether we like it or not, we need new alternatives, and Tex—with his way of doin’ things—is helpin’ to find them, whether it’s a new starch or gum blend or even one of them proteins.”
“I hear Tex is working with sound,” said the first one.
“That’s just what I mean, Hank,” said the second one. “All of them newfangled ideas of his.”
“Newfangled. Maybe,” said the third one. “But they seem to work. I hear tell he can translate audible sounds like that of a crunch and give the development of a confectionery coating a whole new meaning.”
“Tex is comin’ to town,” shouted a little boy, running excitedly down the street. “Tex is comin’.”
“Well, you knew Tex would be here eventually if this here town would ever grow,” said the third one philosophically.
“Yep, I guess we better go greet him,” said the first one.”
“I still think he’s uppity,” insisted the second one.
The three townsfolk got up from their chairs and peered down the street. In the swirling dust, they saw a figure approach. And it wasn’t Clint Eastwood.
Tex—short for texture—had arrived in the town of Formulatorsville. Just as the clock struck high noon, too.
Have you seen wanted posters out on Tex? If you have, strap on your six-shooters, and let’s IngredienTalk.
Donald E. Pszczola,