Flexibility as key ingredient: From 0 - 60% fat in a mayonnaise with a single stabiliser compound

Whenever a consumer chooses a low-fat mayonnaise, dressing or sauce product, he or she hopes the product will have the same taste and appearance as the full-fat variety. Sadly, however, that’s seldom the case.

A quick search of online food reviews of light mayonnaise products uncovers a challenging reality for many fine foods manufacturers: Even the most complimentary remarks, such as “Tastes good – for a low-fat product” or “It’s a lot like the real thing” still point to a quality gap that holds many people back from trying lower-fat products – and which stops others coming back for more.

There is help at hand, however, for manufacturers aiming to live up to consumer expectations: Decades of experience and product development in the low-fat and reduced-fat mayonnaise arena now allow recipes to be adapted and fine-tuned to an unprecedented extent. 

Two sides of the same story

Essentially, two key factors are of decisive importance for closing the quality gap mentioned above. The first is knowing which stabilizer compounds to use. The second factor, which is inseparably related to the first, is knowing exactly what challenges these compounds can present, and how to unleash their full potential to achieve a consistently high-quality product. On both counts, Palsgaard has built an impressive platform that is helping manufacturers around the world to arrive at low-fat or reduced-fat mayonnaise products that are able to meet or beat consumer expectations.

Flexibility rules

Using stabiliser compounds is not without its issues. In fact, achieving the optimal viscosity and creaminess across a variety of fat content proportions demands an extremely flexible stabilizer.

Furthermore, while most mayonnaise manufacturers seek to reduce the number of raw materials used in production, their R&D teams tend to focus on creating the optimal functional product for each project;. To meet both agendas, the industry needs a single stabilizer optimised for lower-fat applications that produces the desirable qualities associated with higher fat content. And that’s why Palsgaard originally developed the stabiliser compound Palsgaard® 1-2-3.

Palsgaard® 1-2-3 is a compound of stabilisers based on the hydrocolloids guar gum (E412) and xanthan gum (E415) and modified starch (acetylated distarch adipate (E1422)). Not only is Palsgaard® 1-2-3 suitable for all products with fat content ranging from zero to 60 percent, but it also produces similar results to mayonnaises or dressings manufactured with compounds for higher fat content. And while Palsgaard® 1-2-3 has few E-numbers, it retains the synergistic effect of the two hydrocolloids guar gum and xanthan gum. The modified starch is necessary to achieve the right structure to the mayonnaise.

 

FACT BOX: Palsgaard® 1-2-3 Palsgaard® 1-2-3 is a stabiliser compound containing a specially developed composition of water-binding ingredients. When used in mayonnaises of between zero and 60 percent fat, the mayonnaise exhibits the optimal texture, viscosity and creaminess. It allows fine foods manufacturers to reduce the number of stabilizers required in production, significantly streamlining production logistics.

Stabiliser functionality

Stabilisers affect the rheological properties of the water phase in oil-in-water emulsions. They absorb water, which increases the viscosity of the water phase. This effect is transferred to the mayonnaise or dressing products, affecting them in a number of ways:

  • Increasing the product’s stability against phase separation, preventing the oil and water from separating during production, distribution or storage
  • Influencing the product’s appearance, such as the degree of smoothness and creaminess
  • Regulating the product’s consistency, producing a thicker or a thinner product
  • Regulating the ability of the product to absorb liquid from any drained foodstuffs added
  • Affecting the sensory properties of the products, such as the mouth-feel and flavour release
  • Stabilised mayonnaises and dressings are dependent on a number of factors, including:
  • The oil content of the product
  • The type of emulsifier used – egg yolk, protein or esters of mono- and diglycerides
  • Production method – use of cold or warm-swelling stabilizers
  • End-use demands, such as heat and/or freeze stability

Determining the optimal stabiliser composition requires thorough knowledge of the functional properties of each individual stabiliser.

If the stabiliser is to be used in products without egg yolk, milk proteins or emulsifying starches could be used as an emulsifier. For cold-swelling stabilisers, all the individual components in the stabiliser must be able to absorb cold water (cold-swelling ingredients). In other words, it is not necessary to heat the stabiliser in water in order to obtain the viscosity effect.

FACT BOX: Low-fat mayonnaise drives the market Mayonnaise’s presence on the dinner table continues to grow. According to a 2014 report released by Quartz1, much of this growth is driven by the rise in popularity of low-fat mayonnaise. The market in America for this product alone doubled from 2005 to 2013. Mayonnaise is an oil-in-water emulsion stabilised by a blend of hydrocolloids and starches. With an oil content of more than 65 percent, traditional mayonnaise is viewed as a high-fat food. But it is fast losing popularity, particularly among today’s low-fat and healthy lifestyle-seeking consumers. This is driving demand for low-fat mayonnaise. European legislation determines that a mayonnaise product can only be claimed as “low fat” if it contains no more than three grams of fat per 100 grams. “Light” or “fat-reduced” products must be at least 30 percent lower than a similar full-fat product.

Modified starch

Modified starch enables important functionality in Palsgaard® 1-2-3, but it must be the right type of starch. Palsgaard’s tests show that the best results are obtained using modified waxy maize starch with a high content amylum pectin. It has also been possible to mix modified starches from different starch producers with the same E-number. Fortunately, this does not increase the amount of E-numbers, and it does actually improve the effect of the modified starch by combining the best effects of the different products.

But just how much should the starches be modified? Typically, acetylated distarch (E1412) and acetylated di-starch phosphate (E1414) increase viscosity, while acetylated distarch adipate (E1442) provides more creaminess. The modified starch, acetylated distarch adipate, provided just the right balance between the effect of viscosity, creaminess, mouth-feel, stability and the degree of extra mechanical treatment the product could withstand during production. 

The impact of reducing oil content

The lack of oil in a low or reduced-fat mayonnaise creates a number of additional challenges. Not only do low-fat mayonnaises have a different structure, but factors including colour, taste and texture will all be affected in various ways.

Colour

When oil is removed from the emulsion, the colour tends to be less white and more transparent. To counter this, colourings can be used, such as titanium dioxide for whiteness and beta carotene for more yellow. Other ingredients such as skim milk powder and egg yolk can also help to reduce transparency.

Taste

Because of the relatively high water volume in the water phase, more acid is needed to lower the pH value. This can cause an acidic taste, and a combination of different acids such as citric acid, malic acid or different types of vinegar may be preferable. Another option is to add particular flavours.

Texture

The texture is probably the most difficult parameter to get right when developing stabilizer compounds suitable for low-fat mayonnaises or dressings. With less oil, the product tends to be less creamy, stickier or gelled because of the high amount of water that needs to be bound. Although many different ingredients can bind water, including hydrocolloids, starches, proteins and fibres, it is important to choose the right proportions of ingredients. Hydrocolloids alone can result in a long sticky structure, and starch alone can either result in taste problems because of the high amount or cause a gelled structure. Proteins alone may cause a gelled structure and are expensive. Fibre is a good water binder, but can change the appearance of the low-fat mayonnaise. By combining the different water-binding ingredients in the right proportion, it is possible to develop a low-fat mayonnaise with a short and creamy structure. 

Cold processing

The process of manufacturing these low fat mayonnaises is actually the opposite of the traditional method of producing a cold produced mayonnaise, where stabilizers such as hydrocolloids and starches are mixed with a little oil to prevent lumping and are added to the water phase before the oil is sucked into the homogenisation machine.

However, when making a low fat mayonnaise according to the above recipes, the oil content is so low that it cannot be mixed with Palsgaard® 1-2-3. It is therefore necessary to suck the stabilizer blend into the water. However, water should be added to egg yolk before the oil is sucked in.

After an emulsion is formed, all the dry ingredients are added. For best results, they should be mixed together to prevent lumping, but it is also possible to add them separately. Vinegar and acids are added to complete the process. If the dry ingredients are added before the oil is emulsified in the mayonnaise, the water phase starts thickening and viscosity increases. The oil drops will be larger than if the oil was emulsified into the water phase with low viscosity, resulting in a product that is less stable and less creamy.

A single ingredient

In an effort to streamline logistics and cut costs, many mayonnaise and dressing manufacturers pursue a ‘single-ingredient’ strategy to take care of multiple needs. However, most stabilizers need to be optimised specifically for different products. Not only does this require further R&D effort and resources, but additional costs are also likely due to extra quality control and weighing, adjusting the variation of raw materials, traceability registration, and more hazard handling.

Palsgaard® 1-2-3 meets manufacturers’ demands for a single stabiliser that can be used across a range of recipes. It has been fully tested in recipes with a fat content of between zero and 60 percent, as shown in Table 1. This helps manufacturers simplify their production logistics and significantly reduces the administrative strains of quality control, traceability, legislation and certification.

 

Ingredients 0% oil 35% oil 60% oil
Water 75.35% 48.25% 25.00%
Palsgaard® 1-2-3 5.00% 3.75% 2.00%
Oil 0.00% 35.00% 60.00%
Vinegar 5.00% 4.00% 4.00%
Mustard paste 0.00% 1.00% 1.00%
Skim milk powder 4.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Egg yolk 2.00% 4.00% 4.00%
Sugar 2.00% 2.80% 2.80%
Salt 1.50% 1.10% 1.10%
Titanium Oxide 0.05% 0.00% 0.00
Preservative 0.10% 0.10% 0.10%
Total 100% 100% 100%

Table 1: Recipe suggestions for mayonnaises with 0% fat, 35% fat and 60% fat with Palsgaard® 1-2-3 used on a Koruma.

Viscosity curves comparing the recipes are shown in Figure 1. The almost identical behaviour of the three curves indicates the same similar viscosity and creaminess across all three products.

Figure 1: The flow curves show the viscosity for three different mayonnaises with contents ranging from zero to 60 percent fat content.

The results may be impressive, but it is worth re-emphasising that they are unlikely to be obtained by simply applying Palsgaard® 1-2-3 to existing recipes without bringing considerable knowledge and experience to bear – something Palsgaard, with its range of starting-point recipes, well-equipped pilot labs and lengthy track record of solving mayonnaise challenges is easily able to provide.