It is not uncommon to find carrageenan used as a stabilizer or thickener in many foods. Yet any ingredient statement that lists this hydrocolloid disguises the fact that it may be one variation among a large family of polysaccharides derived from red algae.
Carrageenan is composed of repeating galactose units that are joined by alternating a1-3 and b1-4 glycosidic linkages. Three types of carrageenan are used as food ingredients—kappa, iota and lambda—each of which differs in the percentage of 3,6 anhydro-D-galactose present and the amount of sulfation found among the repeating galactose units. These structural parameters affect the properties exhibited by each type of carrageenan. Kappa-carrageenan is capable of forming rigid gels in the presence of potassium ions. These gels are characterized by a high degree of syneresis, or weeping, which can be controlled by blending with iota-carrageenan or locust bean gum. Iota-carrageenan forms cohesive, elastic syneresis-free gels in the presence of calcium ions. These gels are freeze/thaw stable and exhibit thixotropy, or shear-thinning properties, but will re-gel after the force is removed. Lambda-carrageenan will not gel but acts as a very good thickener.
Product ApplicationsP.L. Thomas and its Spanish-based partner Ceamsa take all of these properties into consideration when recommending carrageenans for a specific application. One of the newer offerings is Ceambloom 3240™, a carrageenan designed for gelatin-free, jelly-type water desserts. A pure vegan product, it is a suitable replacement for gelatin when animal-based ingredients are not wanted.
For the first time, clarity can be achieved by using only carrageenan, notes Rodger Jonas, national business development manager for P.L. Thomas. In the past, carrageenan had to be blended with costly, refined locust bean gum to achieve a clear gel set. Additionally, Ceambloom 3240 sets quickly, has a clean label and is kosher-certified.
Carrageenans have been customized for use in baked goods, dairy products and meat applications. The various offerings included in the P. L. Thomas’ Ceamlacta 2000™ range demonstrate the high degree of reactivity that exists when carrageenan is used in a protein-containing medium. Each type of carrageenan reacts differently when combined with proteins. Kappa-carrageenan, for example, reacts more strongly with milk protein than either the iota or lambda variety.
Another notable property associated with carrageenan is its ability to keep cocoa particles suspended in chocolate milk. It is also used as a stabilizer in ice cream, processed and imitation cheese, and whipped topping. Carrageenan contributes to the demoldability and creaminess of many dairy-based desserts.
Ceamgel 3383™ is recommended for baked goods. It provides texture control; improves baking stability, shelflife and cooking performance; enhances mouthfeel and flavor release; and adds freeze/thaw stability. Ceamvis 3383™, which is highly thixotropic, performs well in bakery creams and fillings by reducing the risk of syneresis and improving shelflife.
Carrageenans also play an important role in meat applications. Ceamgel 1313™ and Ceamgel M-9393™ provide excellent yield improvement when used in injectable brine solutions. These specialized carrageenans are freeze/thaw stable, control syneresis and ensure good processing economy through lower drip loss.
For more information:
P.L. Thomas, Morristown, NJ
Rodger H. Jonas •firstname.lastname@example.org•www.plthomas.com