Wood-derived ingredients could be soon used in common food products
According to the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, wood-derived ingredients could be utilised in the manufacture of products such as yoghurt, baked goods and meat products.
Studies conducted by VTT have shown that xylan, fibrillated cellulose and lignin have properties that allow them to replace traditionally used ingredients.
Xylan, a hemicellulose extracted from birch pulp, could be used as texture enhancer in yoghurt. Compared to conventional manufacturing techniques, VTT's studies showed that xylan improved the smoothness of yoghurt. The texture was also more stable: no separation of water from the yoghurt gel was observed in the tests. VTT tested xylan in yoghurt at concentrations of 1.5% and 3%. Enzymatically hydrolysed xylan worked better at the lower concentration.
Another exciting wood-derived ingredient for modifying texture is fibrillated cellulose, which is produced by wet-grinding cellulose fibers. It is particularly useful for its ability to bind water at low concentration and form a web-like gel. Fibrillated cellulose could be utilised as thickening and stabilising agent for instance in fermented dairy products, such as yoghurt. In VTT's in vitro digestion model it has also been observed that fibrillated cellulose binds free bile acids, which is an indication of potential cholesterol lowering effect in the human body.
Finally, the surface-active properties of lignin could be utilised to prepare emulsions (mixtures of water and oil) and foams with improved texture. Lignin could also be used to reduce oxidation in food products.
For more information, it's possible to contact Anna-Marja Aura, Principal Scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.