Interest in reduced-sugar products is driven by concerns ranging from obesity to diabetes; however, the formulation of such products presents challenges. For example, while firm-textured, reduced-sugar fruit spreads are familiar to the marketplace, the trend is moving toward smoother, creamier spreads with no syneresis and large fruit piece identity.

To accommodate this emerging trend, Danisco developed the GRINDSTED® Pectin SF EXTRA line for the formulation of low-sugar fruit spreads. This proprietary pectin series not only resulted in smoother, more spreadable jams, but the spreads also had another welcome benefit--an enhanced flavor profile. The enhanced flavor characteristics created were thought to be the result of the pectin’s unique gel structure.

To confirm this theory, low-sugar spreads made with the proprietary GRINDSTED Pectin SF EXTRA were evaluated using three methods: trained and untrained sensory panels, texture profiling and proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS). PTR-MS let researchers monitor the real-time sequence of eating, follow the release of individual and mixtures of flavor molecules, and collect data to better understand flavor perception. Little has been published on the effect of pectin gels on flavor release within the mouth.

Factors impacting aroma perception include the physical chemistry of the flavor molecules in the food matrix, which is made up of lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and water, and the transfer of the aroma volatiles from mouth to the nasal cavity. The researchers constructed a system in which, as various spreads were chewed and swallowed, flavor volatiles exiting the nasal cavity were captured by the PTR-MS. The measurements revealed how significant changes in the release of flavor volatiles can occur within seconds from one swallow to the next. Further rheological tests were also conducted and were found to correlate with sensory panel results on texture. 

Two strawberry fruit spreads containing 35% soluble solids--one made with standard, amidated low-ester (LA) pectin and the other with GRINDSTED Pectin SF 369 EXTRA--were given to panelists for sampling and monitored with the PTR-MS technology. (See charts, “Proprietary Pectin” and “Standard Pectin,” for the flavor release during the time sequence of eating.) The standard pectin resulted in a strawberry ester release of less than half that of a sample containing GRINDSTED Pectin SF 369 EXTRA. Since GRINDSTED Pectin SF EXTRA was designed for greater spreadability, it affects the rheology of the fruit spread in the mouth. It is well-known that foods that break down faster prior to swallowing release more flavor, while foods of higher viscosity or firmer gel have less flavor.

“The result of our research was that fruit spreads using GRINDSTED Pectin SF EXTRA deliver twice the flavor impact of traditional spreads,” says Kate Jacobsen, senior application specialist, fruit prep and confection, Danisco. “The unique structure of the GRINDSTED Pectin is a major contributing factor to creating a smooth, pliable texture, while enhancing the flavor release characteristics in jams, jellies and fruit spreads.”

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