Application of Carrageenan in Food

Application of Carrageenan in Food


Carrageenan has strong stability and its dry powder won’t get degraded for long time exposure. It is also very stable in neutral or alkaline solution, and won’t get hydrolyzed even with heat. In acid solution (especially pH≤4.0), however, can easily get acid hydrolysis and the gel strength and viscosity will decrease. It is worth mentioning that at neutral condition carrageenan will also get hydrolyzed, leading to the decrease in the gel strength, if it is heated for long at high temperature. All types of carrageenan can be soluble in hot water or hot milk, and can form a kind of free-flowing solution that are viscous transparent or slightly milky. In cold water, however, it can absorb water and swell but is insoluble.


On account of its properties, carrageenan is often used in food industry as the thickening, gelatinizing, suspending, emulsifying and stabilizing agents. However, the production and application of carrageenan have much to do with its rheological properties, so it is of great significance to production to have an accurate mastery of its rheological properties and the change rule under various conditions.



Application in Jelly Production


As a very good coagulator, carrageenan can replace such common colloids as agar, gelatin, and pectin. Jelly made by agar has the properties of insufficient elasticity and a higher price. The disadvantage of jelly made by gelatin is the low solidifying and melting point, so its preparation and preservation should proceed at low temperature. The disadvantage of jelly made by pectin is that only with the addition of high-solubility salt and the proper adjustment of pH value can it solidify. Carrageenan, however, doesn’t have such disadvantages and jelly made by carrageenan is full of elasticity and has no off-water property. Consequently, it is frequently used as the gelling agent in jelly.


The application of carrageenan in jelly should note the following points:


Firstly, carrageenan belongs to the konjac gum system and its solubility is not very high, so it requires heat preservation. If the soaking time is not enough or carrageenan is not totally soluble, then jelly made by this cannot have a good taste or, in more serious cases, even too tender to take shape. On the other hand, if the soaking time is very long, or carrageenan is slightly alkaline or added with such buffering agents as sodium citrate, then deacetylation denaturation will easily occur and the jelly still cannot take shape.


Secondly, carrageenan is not acid-proof and the lower the acidification temperature, the better. In general, the filling of jelly should be proceeded at70℃-80℃or according to the practical technological conditions. Otherwise, the higher the temperature is, the more easily carrageenan will be damaged and the taste be affected. Meanwhile, it is recommended that citric acid should be added after being soluble in water so as not to be partially peracid. The pH value should be adjusted in general no less than 4, and for a more acid taste, other colloids should be supplemented. In addition, pasteurization can also affect the taste, so should be adjusted based on its practical situation.


Thirdly, attention should also be paid to filtering. After boiling, screen should be used to filter the feed liquid so that insoluble konjac particles can be removed and relatively transparent jelly can be gained. Consequently, the transparent effects of some top grade jellies can be achieved.


 Application in Soft Sweets


The transparent fruit sweets made by carrageenan have rich fruit flavors and moderate sweetness. Besides, these sweets are tasty, non-stick to teeth and their transparency is better than that of the soft sweets made by agar but the price of carrageenan is lower than that of agar. If added to ordinary hard candies or soft sweets, carrageenan helps to make the products taste well, full of elasticity, have a small viscosity and improve the stability.


The application of carrageenan in soft sweets should note the following points:

Firstly, soft sweets powder mainly made by carrageenan is not easily soluble at high-glucose concentration, so it is recommended that it should be first soluble in water,  or otherwise grains of colloidal particles will easily be produced.

Secondly, the very low reducing sugar content and the long storage time can make sugar condensation easily while the very high reducing sugar content can easily lead to injection molding and cannot take shape when boiling sugar.

Thirdly, after boiling gum, some colorful materials like carrot sauce can be added but remember to calculate the proportion of soft sweets powder.


 Application in Ice Cream

In the production of ice cream, carrageenan helps to make fat and other solid ingredients distribute uniformly, so it enables ice cream to have a fine, smooth texture and a good taste. In the production of ice cream, carrageenan can react with positive ions in milk and produce a distinct gelling property so that it helps to improve the moldability and melting resistance of ice cream. Besides, the stability of ice cream at temperature fluctuation can also be improved and ice cream won’t easily melt at normal temperature.


In the production of ice cream, although carrageenan is not appropriate for the main stabilizing agent, it can act as the auxiliary stabilizing agent at a very low concentration to better prevent whey off phenomenon. This is because carrageenan can increase the viscosity of the system but cannot form a stable enough system. Locust bean gum and CMC (Carboxymethylcellulose) can be used alone or together as a favorable main stabilizing agent. However, they have the same disadvantage, that is, whey off phenomenon will be caused in the ice cream mixture. Consequently, the addition of carrageenan can prevent such a phenomenon.


The application of carrageenan in ice cream should note the following points:

Firstly, a small amount of starch can be added to fill but excessive amount will lead to a poor taste.

Secondly, the dosage of carrageenan is relatively small and it is mainly used in the congelation process after aging.

On March 11th, 2013, posted in: carrageenan, Products and Techniques by Tags:

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