Functional properties are what determine the value of proteins as food ingredients. Measuring functionality in a non-biased way by independent experts is therefore essential!
IMPROVE can screen reliably all aspects of protein functionality and advise on potential applications of a product based on its properties.
- Behaviour in water
No matter the application, a protein ingredient will be put in contact with water during manufacturing or just before consumption. How a protein interacts with water therefore always affects its end-use quality. The parameters measured at IMPROVE are:
– Protein instant properties: solubility, dispersibility, wettability, sedimentation…
– How protein affects product rheology and viscosity
– The water holding capacity of protein
The instant properties of a protein are especially important when designing nutritional beverages. Adding a protein with high water holding capacity to meat products will help them to remain moist and juicy after cooking.
Proteins are the among the best natural emulsifiers because of their hydrophobic / hydrophilic nature. The emulsifying properties of a protein are assessed by producing an emulsion in well-controlled conditions and measuring oil droplets size over time. Destabilisation phenomenon can then be assessed: flocculation, coalescence, phase separation…
Emulsifiers are useful in applications in which both oil and water are present. Proteins with good emulsifying activities can be used in dairy replacers such as milk alternatives.
Foaming capacity is another desirable attribute of proteins. To measure this capacity, a foam is produced in a glass tube. A camera and a conductivity meter measure foam volume and liquid drainage over time. Foaming capacity is assessed by the maximum volume of foam and its stability over time.
Foaming capacity is important when developing desserts like chocolate mousse or when looking for substitutes for egg white in a recipe
Gelling capacity is linked with protein ability to be denatured by temperature or pH and to reorganise as a well-ordered 3D network. Several methods are available to characterise the gelling properties of a protein:
- Determining the minimum concentration of protein able to form a gel
- Measuring gelling temperature or gelling kinetics in a rheometer
- Characterising gel strength, elasticity and cohesion by Texture Profile Analysis
Proteins with good gelling capacities can be used to improve the texture of cooked meats or meat alternatives. They can also be used to develop yoghurts, candies…