As you know, flavor and texture are the 2 most important sensory and marketing features when it comes to beverages. To obtain a proper texture, the suspension should be homogenous and the viscosity of the solution should be maintained without changing physical and chemical properties.

Emulsifiers, stabilizers deal with the suspension/stabilization and thickeners deal with the rheology modification.

Commonly used thickening agents are carbohydrate ingredients such as corn starch, tapioca starch, corn fiber and hydrocolloids/gums (gellan, xanthan, cellulose, carrageenan). Apart from these carbohydrates, protein powders such as pea, brown rice, whey, soy are considered as excellent thickeners.

Note: Some specific ingredients act as emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilizers, protein sources in food products and beverages ( ie., they exhibit more than one functionality in the formulation).

I experimented with various thickeners to create new beverages.

Note: This post is exclusively on beverages. ‘Application of thickeners in snack products’ discussed in fact sheets and short ebooks; and will be published as blog posts Jun-Sep 2017.

In the formulation of ‘Vanilla Protein Shake‘, corn fiber along with the combination of cellulose, carrageenan and gellan gums worked best in thickening, improving the texture and stabilizing the product. The gums helped in the stabilization of proteins by avoiding protein aggregation, flocculation, sedimentation of beverage particles.

In the formulation of ‘Vegan Chocolate Shake‘, corn fiber and carrageenan gum along with pea and brown rice proteins helped to provide protein and emulsifier stabilization.

Sacha Pro Blast, Cherry Energy Drink and Annatto Protein Drink Mix were developed using the right combination of thickeners – tapioca starch, acacia gum, xanthan gum, guar gum, locust bean gum, gellan gum

How are formulas created?

The preliminary formula contains basic ingredients such as liquid medium, sweetening agent, protein and/or fiber sources. Ingredients – thickening agents, emulsifiers, preservatives, colorants, flavoring agents and others are chosen based on the characteristics of the final product.

Trails are conducted with a recommended range of each of these ingredients and their combinations. The formula is improvised eventually by considering sensory analysis and shelf life testing results into account along with the desired nutritional content of the final product.

Apart from the above-mentioned thickeners, there are many others such as alginates, agar-agar, gelatin, pectin, modified starches which can act as thickening agents in beverages and even in food products.

Hope you learned about thickening agents today. Will post individual posts about each ingredient in future.

Stay tuned to Food Sciences Blog. Bye 🙂

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