Product and recipe development of innovative snackfood with lab-scale rheology and extrusion

The demand for food and feed products from alternative protein sources is continuously increasing. Pulses, in particular, have proven to be effective protein suppliers. This confronts producers with new challenges in product and recipe development.

Often, the processing properties of the new raw materials, how they react together with other materials and the correct mixing ratio between them must first be intensively tested in order to be able to manufacture good quality products.

Instead of having to carry out tests on production machines, with high material input and production downtimes, Brabender equipment offers the possibility to perform these tests with much less resource input. With the help of several Brabender instruments involved, for example, the production of a snack product based on a lentil/wheat flour recipe can be simulated on a laboratory scale. The setup can be used for research and development as well as for product development.

The process consists of the following five phases:

  1. Grinding of the lentils and wheat kernels on a laboratory scale for further analysis of the raw material (Brabender Break Mill SM 4)

The laboratory mill SM 4 not only grinds different types of grain, but also pulses, pasta and more. In addition to current safety features, the mill offers five process advantages that are indispensable for precise sample preparation in the laboratory:

  • Infinitely adjustable grinding gap/degree of fineness
  • Reproducible grinding with the desired fineness
  • Minimised heating of the grinding material
  • Minimised loss of moisture in the grinding product
  • Closed system without product losses

This makes the Brabender Break Mill SM 4 ideally suited for sample preparation for subsequent analyses, such as the moisture content of the ground material.

          2. Measurement of moisture content (Brabender Moisture Tester MT-CA):

In the production of lentil-based snack extrudates on a scientific basis, the total moisture content in the extrusion process is crucial. This is composed of the raw material moisture and the water content added during the extrusion process. The Brabender MT-CA thus supports sample preparation with regard to raw material moisture.

The instrument is an electronic moisture analyser that works on the principle of heat drying in moving air. The weight loss of the sample material resulting from the drying process is determined. In the MT-CA, the air enriched with moisture is constantly exchanged.

As a result, the drying process is significantly faster than in a classic drying oven without ventilation. Compared to conventional drying, application errors are reduced to a minimum due to the automated work with the MT-CA. The time-consuming work step of cooling in the desiccator, which increases the source of incorrect measurements, is no longer necessary.

When drying is complete, the sample is automatically weighed back in the drying room and the water loss is calculated in grams and percent. The water content can, thus, be determined with an accuracy of 0.1 percent.

          3. Analysis of water absorption and kneading properties (Farinograph-TS):

The Brabender Farinograph measures the water absorption of flour as well as the dough development time, dough stability during kneading and dough softening. By determining and observing these parameters (with regard to the individual raw materials and also to the blends made from them) how later variations during extrusion can be assessed and minimised.

The reliable and reproducible measurement of the processing properties and quality of flours and meals is a basic requirement in the milling and baking industry today to ensure consistent and optimum quality for the production of a wide variety of bakery and pasta products. For decades the Brabender Farinograph has proven its worth for this task, making it the most frequently used instrument worldwide for determining the properties of wheat and rye flour.

The kneading resistance acting on the blades of the measuring kneader according to the sample viscosity is measured as torque by the high-precision measuring electronics and registered and recorded online by the software as a function of time in a clearly arranged colour diagram.

For visco-inelastic doughs made from lentil or other pulses, which do not form an adhesive network of their own accord and have to be "forced to knead", the FarinoAdd-S300 accessory prevents the dough from pressing on the kneading lid during kneading when measurements are made on the Farinograph-TS.

A "stamp" with clamp attachment and integrated water supply (for automatic or manual titration) allows a good mixing of water and flour, which remain within the intended measuring range of the kneading chamber, instead of pushing the material upwards beyond it. This makes it possible to assess the rheological behavior of even such highly plastic doughs under constant conditions and according to the usual standards - always, of course, with a view to the quality characteristics desired or to be aimed for in the end product.

        4. Analysis of starch gelatinisation (Brabender ViscoQuick):

The ViscoQuick is a rheological measuring instrument for the analysis of starch gelatinisation of the raw material before and after extrusion. The measured values provide information about the starch damage caused by shear and heat during the extrusion process, which has a positive effect on the digestibility of the extruded product.

The ViscoQuick is a compact universal measuring instrument with a wide range of applications for fast and uncomplicated measurements of viscosity and gelatinisation properties. With the ViscoQuick it is possible, among other things, to analyse gelatinisation properties of starches and to qualitatively determine alpha-amylase activity in flours. It can be used to measure hot and cold viscosities and to check the stability of thickeners and binders.

In comparison to classical measurements for starch gelatinisation, a measuring run with the ViscoQuick can be performed in approximately 15 minutes. The heating rate of the ViscoQuick is up to 20 °C per minute, the cooling rate up to 15 °C per minute. In addition, the integrated heating/cooling function also reduces possible sources of error in the measurements.

Thanks to the new patented dynamic taring and calibration method and the new precise heating/cooling system, the ViscoQuick has improved reproducibility compared to previous systems. This not only provides reliable measurement results, but also saves customers time by reducing the need for repeat measurements. A further advantage is that, depending on the sample material, only small sample quantities of between 5 and 10 grams are required and temperature ranges between + 10 °C and 98 °C can be covered.

      5. Development of a recipe and definition of the process parameters; extrusion of the recipe on a laboratory scale (Brabender TwinLab-F 20/40):

Tests with laboratory extruders offer advantages such as practical measurement of extrusion conditions with small sample quantities, quick change of test conditions, and easy operation and cleaning. With the Brabender TwinLab-F 20/40 snacks can be produced on a laboratory scale according to different recipes (variable composition of wheat and lentil flour, additional additives if required).

With extrusion as a modern key technology, new developments of snack products, breakfast cereals, flat breads, dough or confectionery can be prepared on a laboratory scale. By varying the parameters of screw speed, temperature and shear in their interaction during extrusion, innovative food and feed products can be made.

The Brabender TwinLab-F 20/40 is primarily designed for research and development. Its main field of application is in recipe and product development. In addition, it is used for the production of samples for quality control or for the optimisation of production processes.

The laboratory extruder makes contemporary, flexible product design possible from a wide variety of raw materials: not only "classic" from corn, wheat, rice or soya, but also from other legumes such as peas, lentils and lupines. In addition, new types of products made from potatoes, vegetables or nuts are being developed, especially in the snack area. Raw material mixtures with fibres, oils, sugar or micronutrients are also feasible.

Application ideas can thus be varied in many ways, in terms of raw materials, recipes, machines and products. Users can establish methods for measuring their quality parameters from the raw material to the end product in advance. In addition, they need considerably less time for their tests, save material and have hardly any product waste. And last but not least: They do not need to worry about their current quality management system being compromised in the first place.

Snack product with different lentil-wheat compositions can be developed at lab scale with the Brabender TwinLab-F 20/40.

The use of Brabender equipment involved in this process has significant advantages over tests on machines otherwise used in running production:

  • Highest flexibility: The test conditions can be changed quickly, not only with respect to material composition and the shape of the final product (by using different die heads), but also with respect to temperatures, speed, torque, pressure, etc
  • Material savings: Only a fraction of the raw material is used compared to tests on production lines
  • No interruption of the production process: In many companies tests are carried out on production lines. Brabender instruments allow laboratory-scale tests while production continues
  • The material behavior during the production process can be tested on a large scale before tests are performed
  • Optimal process parameters can be stored, used for other tests or considered for upscaling to production conditions
  • Rejects resulting from the use of material of inappropriate quality or composition are therefore reduced to a minimum.

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