Build Back Functionality with Hydrocolloids

There are various reasons for eliminating or reducing ingredients. The main one, of course, has to do with consumer preference. Sometimes the reason is sugar reduction; or the ingredient might be seen as harmful or contains gluten. Other benefits might be cost reduction or added value.

All of this (and more) was covered by Steven Baker, food scientist, TIC Gums, in his Prepared Foods’ R&D Seminar presentation, titled “Building Back Functionality with Hydrocolloids.”

“Gums interact with water,” stated Baker. (See chart: Gum Interactions with Water.) “They help thicken water; produce gels; affect texture attributes; and modify flavor release. However, not all gums are the same. Many things can affect gum functionality, including time and temperature, pH, other ingredients (i.e., salt, sugar, alcohol and calcium), shear and order of addition.”

For sugar-reduction in beverages, the objective might be to reduce sugar content by 50% to improve the nutritional profile, and to possibly lower costs, said Baker. The challenges, however, are that “the beverage lacks texture when sugar is reduced, or it is low in viscosity.”

All-natural pectin can be used to build viscosity at room temperature. Pectin is anionic and requires heat for gelation.

Gum Arabic also is all-natural and cold water-soluble. It has minimum viscosity; a highly branched structure; and can be used as an emulsifier. Its AGP and glycoprotein complex are lipophilic, and typical uses include flavor encapsulation, emulsions (salad dressings, beverages) and confections.

Baker went on to describe the process, including how to prepare the dry blend:

  • Combine granulated sugar, citric acid powder, black tea extract and natural lemon flavor
  • Blend 10 minutes
  • Add tricalcium phosphate and blend for 5 minutes

Next, he advised, “Hydrate gums in water for 25 minutes, with the agitation high enough to mix well, but not incorporate air.” The final steps are to “add dry mix to the water/water-gum system; mix for 5 minutes; and store refrigerated until evaluation.”

In gluten-free formulations, “batter balance is critical,” stressed Baker.

A stable emulsion ensures a tight, consistent crumb, ensuring batter stability. As far as the batter’s viscosity, the batter should be neither too thick nor too thin, for good dispensing and suspension. There should also be a balance between water and gum levels.

Challenges when moving to gluten-free include: the batter gets thinner or cannot hold onto water phase. It can also lead to inconsistency of crumb and/or texture deficiencies (i.e., dry crumb, firm crumb, lacks cohesiveness). Textural deficiencies can mean the batter can no longer suspend inclusions.

Gums can come to the rescue in a multitude of ways. They can thicken and stabilize batter (hold batter emulsion; result in an even, consistent crumb structure; and allow suspension of inclusions). Because gums help manage water, the batter has “increased water-holding capacity, a moister mouthfeel and decreased particulate awareness,” Baker said.

Use of gums can produce better batter systems, with a neutral pH, medium shear and short-time mixing, ambient temperature and other ingredient variables. Best options for better batter systems, stated Baker, are xanthan gum, guar gum and cellulose derivatives.

Xanthan gum is excellent at suspension at low-usage levels. It is, however, Baker cautioned, prone to overdosing—which “leads to an overly wet and sticky texture, or the batter might develop a long texture.”

Guar gum is all-natural, cold water-soluble, has a slow rate of hydration and is available in multiple viscosity ranges. Guar is also bake- and freeze-thaw stable; pH-stable (3.5-10); synergistic with xanthan gum for viscosity; degrades under retort conditions; and has a slight beany/grassy odor.
Cellulose derivatives include modified cellulose, which is highly customizable, and includes cellulose gum (CMC); methylcellulose (MC); and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (HPMC). 

“Building Back Functionality with Hydrocolloids,” Steven Baker, Food Scientist, TIC Gums, (Contact: Corie Beyers, 410-273-7300, ext. 3489,


Expanded Uses for Acacia Gum: Functional Formulation Aid and Soluble Dietary Fiber

When it comes to clean label ingredients, consumers are pretty clear about what they want. They want labels that are easy to recognize; are simple and natural; contain no chemical-sounding or unpronounceable ingredients; and they desire foods that are like those made “in grandma’s kitchen.”

So advised Niall McStay, national sales director, Food Division, at Nexira, during his Prepared Foods’ R&D Applications seminar titled “Expanded Possibilities for Acacia Gum Use—Functional Formulation Aid & Soluble Dietary Fiber.”

To meet those consumer needs and desires, food producers have their own “bucket list” of what they prefer in clean label ingredients. McStay said food manufacturers want natural alternatives offering equal or better performance; natural vs. artificial colors; natural antioxidants vs. chemical preservatives; and natural vs. synthetically modified hydrocolloids.

Acacia gum is one such clean label ingredient that can meet all of the above needs. Acacia gum is a dried, exudate collected from the branches of Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal trees. It is a natural, non-GMO plant product that is US FDA GRAS 21 CFR 184.1330 and can be labeled “acacia,” “acacia gum” or “gum Arabic.” Plus, organic-certified acacia gum is available.

Acacia gum also is minimally processed, not chemically treated or enzymatically modified, and is kosher- and halal-certified.

As an amphiphilic emulsifier and stabilizer, acacia gum is a complex aggregate of molecular fractions, including: arabinogalactan protein (AGP); arabinogalactan peptide (AG); and glycoprotein (GP). McStay stressed that acacia gum has remarkable physico-chemical surface properties due to the “presence of both hydrophilic polysaccharide branches and a hydrophobic protein core.”

Acacia gum is quite versatile and easy to use. It has unique surface properties, with the ability to form elastic films at air-water and oil-water interfaces. Moreover, it is a non-hygroscopic, free-flowing powder that is both cold water-soluble and highly soluble at room temperature. It also is pH-, temperature- and high-shear-stable, as well as tasteless, odorless and colorless.

Applications for acacia gum include use as an emulsifier, stabilizer, texturizer, binder, coating agent and an encapsulation agent.

McStay averred that acacia gum can be sourced with a minimum 90% soluble dietary fiber, on a dry-weight basis and is a demonstrated prebiotic at a minimum dose of 6g/day. Other soluble dietary fiber benefits of acacia gum include: progressive and complete fermentation by intestinal probiotics; slow fermentation due to it being a large, complex molecule; preferentially fermented by probiotics (Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria); high gastrointestinal tolerance in humans; and no side-effects (bloating, stomach rumbling, gas or cramps) below 50g/day. (See chart “Acacia Gum – High Gastrointestinal Tolerance.”)

Fermentation by intestinal probiotics leads to enhanced production of short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate, which is a major energy source for the intestinal cell membrane; propionate, which is involved in regulating cholesterol; and acetate, which is involved in cholesterol synthesis.

Acacia gum also has been shown to enhance water and electrolyte absorption.

“Studies show addition of acacia gum may reduce glycemic and insulinemic responses, as well,” said McStay. Plus, it is a low-calorie product at 1.7 kcal/g.

Fiber claims for acacia gum under US FDA 21 CFR 101.54 include: “high in fiber,” “rich in fiber,” “excellent source of fiber,” ”good source of fiber,” “contains fiber” and “provides fiber,” depending on the amount per serving.

Acacia gum, like Nexira’s Fibregum, can provide benefits for clean label products, including beverages, juices and instant drinks. Functional properties include mouthfeel, flavor release, stability, suspension, emulsification and foam stabilization.

In ice creams, desserts and yogurts, acacia gum can replace synthetic emulsifiers and has the functional benefits of mouthfeel, ice crystal reduction, freeze-thaw stability and protection of prebiotics.

Functional benefits to bakery products using acacia gum are pliability, reduced breakage, crispiness, moisture stabilization and freeze-thaw stability. In cereals, bars and snacks, acacia gum acts as a binder; it can replace synthetic emulsifiers; promote moisture stabilization; act as a texturizer; increase bowl life, and much more.

Acacia gum can also provide benefits to clean label fillings and frostings, hard and soft candy, and coated nuts.

In concluding his presentation, McStay outlined some of the US FDA’s proposed changes to its dietary fiber definition—about which formulators and manufacturers of clean label foods and beverages must remain knowledgeable.

“Expanded Possibilities for Acacia Gum Use—Functional Formulation Aid & Soluble Dietary Fiber,” Niall McStay, national sales director, Food Division, Nexira, 908-566-6201,
Fibregum is a trademark of Nexira


Formulating Bakery Applications with Functional Cellulose Food Gums

Cellulose is a sustainable, renewable ingredient derived from plants, trees and vegetable matter. In its natural state, cellulose is not soluble in water; therefore, it is modified to make it soluble and give it the functional properties so useful in baking.

Modified cellulose ingredients available for bakery applications include the cellulose ethers, methylcellulose (MC), hydroxypropyl methylcelluose (HPMC), and carboxymethylcellulose (CMC); and physically modified microcrystalline cellulose (MCC). Functions of these cellulose ingredients in baking include bake stability, egg and gluten replacement, fat reduction, moisture retention, improved volume and adhesion.

“MC and HPMC exhibit many of the same characteristics: most importantly, reversible thermal gelation. CMC functions much like all great food gums in solubility, thickening, plasticity and elasticity, freeze-thaw stability, reducing syneresis, emulsification, protein protection, and being colorless and tasteless,” explained Vicki Deyarmond, customer applications specialist at Dow Food Solutions, in her R&D Seminar presentation titled “Formulating Bakery Applications with Functional Cellulose Food Gums.”

In regular and gluten-free bakery, fillings, sauces, toppings, formed or extruded foods, salad dressings, marinades, whipped toppings, batters and meat preparations, MC/HPMC has many functions. Vegetarian-formed foods are a big category.

To optimize the functions of MC/HPMC, the desired hydration and gelation temperatures need to be known, as well as how strong a gel is needed. Cellulose functions depend on what type and how many substituents are attached. The molecular weight of the starting cellulose determines viscosity, and the degree of substitution determines hydration, gelation temperatures and strengths. Understanding the gel temperatures and textures, and optimal hydration temperatures is of vital importance in optimizing cellulose functionality.

Egg replacement (for cost reduction or allergen removal) is possible with MC and HPMC. Sometimes, reaching for stronger gelling MC, like cooked egg white, is the way to go. MC hydration temperatures are pretty low, and dough will need to reach 50?F to 55?F to hydrate gums. Gluten-free bread would need a lower gelling HPMC ingredient that gels softly and that later will lock the loaf into place at the right time in the oven (not too soon).

Eggs are incredible and cannot be replaced in all cases. Often, more than one gel type is needed. Egg replacement needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis, but some advances have been made. In sponge cake, 50% egg white reduction was achieved using 0.4% HPMC.

In whole-wheat muffins, a rare case where 100% egg replacement was achieved, HPMC was used at 0.44%. Almond macaroons, requiring high shear, also successfully resulted in a 100% egg replacement, using HPMC. Often though, some egg is needed to give structure after baking; otherwise the product will get crumbly very quickly. Often HPMC is chosen to replace egg whites, due to its foam and film properties.

The reversible thermal gel and additional functional properties of MC and HPMC provide binding and thickening powers, film forming, adhesion of particulates on hamburger buns, slowing staling rate, high surface activity and foam stabilization. Fillings and sauces benefit from the thermal gel, which stops boil out of fillings and gives firmer, moister texture. Thin, pump-able sauces can be created at the right temperature and, once pumped into the center of a baked good, will have gelled—preventing the sauce from leaking out of the pastry.

CMC in bakery and dough applications helps improve freshness and texture; reduces fat; and controls dough rheology. In icings, CMC helps reduces sugar crystallization (sandiness) in fondant and rolled icings. Its film-forming properties help prevent frostings on cakes from sticking to packaging. CMC’s moisture-control properties help reduce “sweating” during storage.

MC, HPMC and CMC are multifunctional tools for formulating bakery applications—offering stability; helping to reduce costs; improving sensory attributes and shelflife; and promoting healthier products by removing allergens and reducing fat.

“Formulating Bakery Applications with Functional Cellulose Food Gums,” Vicki Deyarmond, customer applications specialist, Dow Food Solutions,, 989-638-1416
—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor