Instant starch forms cuttable gels – development of the Paselli Easy-Gel by AVEBE America Inc.’s food starch division
Linda Milo Ohr
An instant modified potato starch combines typical starch functionalities such as thickening, texturizing and stabilizing with the capacity to form a gel.
“We wanted to develop a starch that could make a firm, cuttable gel, but also one with which processors could vary the texture,” says Meera Grain, applications manager for the food starch division of AVEBE America Inc., Princeton, N.J. “Not only does Paselli Easy-Gel form a firm gel in a cold-mix process, but we found that it could also be baked and still maintain a cuttable gel.”
The starch can partially replace gelling agents and phosphates for cost or labeling issues. Processors can use it to develop products with new textures and consistencies or to create instant versions of foods with texture and mouthfeel similar to a cook-up or ready-to-eat version.
Hydrocolloids or gelling salts provide gelling in most food products. Paselli Easy-Gel makes it possible to replace some of the hydrocolloids or phosphates in existing recipes, notes Crain. Gelatin or alginate can be replaced for cost or labeling reasons and phosphates for flavor.
For example, a standard instant bakery cream mix contains about 20% instant modified starch (thickener), 2% gelling agent, 50% sugar and 30% milk powder. To produce the cream, a processor can add 400 g of the mix to water and stir for about 3 minutes. In a cold mix procedure, alginate functions as a good gelling agent because it is heat stable and thermo-irreversible. Using an instant gelling starch in the bakery cream mix would open the possibility to use only one ingredient for thickening and gelling in a cold-mix procedure. Paselli Easy-Gel thickens, stabilizes and adds texture to the cream. In addition, the bakery cream is firmer and less sticky.
In cold-prepared desserts such as pudding, mousse and cheesecake, a variety of gelling agents create desired textures and consistencies, from light and aerated to firm and dense. Gelatin is often used in mousse type desserts. Carrageenan adds texture to more dense desserts. Phosphates can also produce gelled desserts as they form milk protein complexes.
A typical dessert mix might contain 500 ml milk and 140 g dry basic mix (31.8% instant gelling starch, 67.8% powdered sugar, 0.4% color/vanilla flavor).
An instant gelling starch enables processors to vary the consistency of the dessert by simply altering the mixing time. Mixing the dessert for about i minute at high speed with an electric hand mixer will result in an aerated, light pudding or mousse. After a 30-minute set time, the starch forms a gel, resulting in a gelled, light and aerated dessert. Mixing for more than 3 minutes decreases the viscosity of the starch, lowers the air-holding capacity and whips the air out of the product, resulting in a firm, dense and cuttable dessert, similar to cheesecake.
Instant food products such as puddings and bakery fillings offer manufacturers and consumers the convenience of a shortened preparation time. These products are often made via a cold-mix procedure. Consumers, however, often perceive textural differences between cook-up and cold-mix, instant versions of a product. Cold-set gels made with Paselli Easy-Gel possess textures more closely resembling gels from cook-up starch.
Paselli Easy-Gel allows processors to be creative in their product development. Applications include desserts, cream and fruit fillings, restructured meats and imitation cheese.
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