Choosing the right key ingredients
As shown in Table 1, glucose syrup is a key ingredient in non-dairy creamers (NDC). During our trials, we have noticed that it is important to keep the total solid content of the glucose syrup between 69-72% as more energy is required to pump it during manufacturing with a higher content of total solids. Equally, the dextrose equivalent used should be as low as possible as the higher the dextrose equivalent, the lower the heat resistance of the glucose syrup and subsequent higher risk of burning or browning during production. This may in turn affect the colour and taste of the finished NDC.
Most non-dairy creamers contain vegetable fats which substitute for dairy fats and add texture, flavour and opacity. The most commonly used fats in the South-East Asian region are hydrogenated palm kernel oil, hydrogenated coconut oil or combinations of the two. The fats are chosen based on the desired creaminess, taste, and mouthfeel influenced by the melting point, solid fat index, food legislation, oxidative stability, and economic considerations. Palsgaard’s applications team in Mexico has recently developed a concept recipe for a vegan, UHT coffee creamer made from sesame seeds, which is available for testing by manufacturers looking to explore new fat sources.
Emulsifiers for non-dairy creamers
The emulsifiers used in non-dairy creamers are typically mono- and diglycerides (E471) produced by the reaction of edible vegetable fats or oils when combined with glycerol. The resulting molecule is composed of a hydrophilic and a lipophilic part, positioned at the interface between fat and protein on the one hand, and water on the other. Typically, emulsifiers reduce the interfacial tension between oil/water or air/water and enhance emulsion stability.
The mono and diglycerides (MDG/DMG) form a complex with the proteins, making the fat globule membrane more resistant to coalescence, and reducing fat separation in the product at the same time. More importantly, and perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively, the emulsifiers also guard against creaming in the finished product.
Another common emulsifier used in NDC is Sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate (SSL) (E481) to ensure good dispersion and whitening power. SSL is manufactured by the esterification of stearic acid with lactic acid and partially neutralised with either food-grade soda ash (sodium carbonate) or caustic soda (concentrated sodium hydroxide). SSL is slightly hygroscopic, soluble in ethanol and in hot oil or fat, and dispersible in warm water. These properties are the reason that SSL is an excellent emulsifier for oil-in-water emulsions.
MDG/DMG and SSL have different qualities and thus affect the end result of the NDC differently. MDG/DMGs are more lipophilic, so they attach more to the fat phase, whereas SSL is an ionic emulsifier and can form dielectric bonds to amino groups in protein but also form hydrogen bondings and Van der Waals bondings.
In practice, this means that by combining the qualities of both emulsifiers you will create a better emulsion, where the protein and emulsifier will form a physical barrier between the oil droplet and the surroundings which reduces the incidence of emulsion destabilisation.
Combining the right type of MDG/DMG with the right type of SSL and defining the right dosage is another matter as they will offer different results regarding dispersibility, whitening effect, mouthfeel and emulsion stability.
How to achieve good dispersibility
Creating non-dairy creamer powders with good dispersibility and wettability can be a challenge and is highly dependent on the choice of emulsifier as well as the production process and the quality of the agglomeration.
The dispersibility of a non-dairy creamer is affected by several parameters during the production process:
- The stability of the emulsion created during wet mixing, as a stable emulsion will result in a constant particle size. An unstable emulsion will break down, creating phase separation. The stability of the emulsion will depend on the emulsifier type, the dosage, and the homogenisation process.
- The spraying temperature and subsequently the moisture content of the spray-dried product – if the moisture content is too high, there is greater risk of lumping which will again affect the dispersibility.
- The effect of the agglomeration – as a stable agglomerated product will have less breakage as a result of a good capillary system and will therefore be dispersed more easily.
|Glucose/Maltodextrin||From corn, potatoes, wheat, barley, rice or
|Bulking agent or principal diluent,
Carrier to retard coalescence of fat.
Sweetness, Improve body.
|Vegetable fat||From hydrogenated palm oil or hydrogenated coconut oil||Whitening power.
Give body and viscosity.
|Sodium caseinate||Milk||Provide a mild dairy flavour.
Help with emulsification.
|Emulsifiers||Vegetable origin||Combine immiscible fat and water.
Improve emulsion stability.
Increase stability against feathering in coffee/tea.
Create the proper amount of fat agglomeration to achieve a whitening effect.
Improve creaminess and mouth-feel.
|Anti-caking agent||Silicon dioxide (SiO2||Prevents lumping of the NDC.|
|Colour (Annatto, beta carotene) % varies according to concentration||Plants||Ensures a yellowish colour of the NDC.|
|Buffer salt||Sodium bicarbonate,
|Keeps a balanced pH (between 6.8 - 7.3) in the NDC system.
Stabilizes the protein.
|Flavour||Natural, natural identical or artificial||Controls taste, mouthfeel.|
Table 1: Overview of the most commonly used ingredients in non-dairy creamers and their functionalities. Readers will note that despite being called “non-dairy”, due to their lactose-free ingredient list, the creamers may still contain milk proteins (sodium caseinate).