Less bitter, more sweet

by Ryan Atkinson
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Stevia has rocketed into popularity in the high-­intensity sweetener game. The combination of sweetness that ranges from 200 to 300 times that of sugar, zero calories and an all-natural tag has made stevia a common choice over traditional chemical sweeteners.

But there’s always a catch, and with stevia, it comes with the aftertaste — a bitter, metallic and licorice-like tang that takes away from the desired sweetness of a product.

To answer that problem, Sensus offers results of recent research that claims its Frutalose oligofructose can be used to improve the taste profile of stevia, thus providing new opportunities to create naturally sweetened baked foods that don’t lag on taste.

“We focused on stevia because it is on the newer side of the high-intensity sweeteners and it is all-¬≠natural,” said Carl Volz, president of Sensus America, Lawrenceville, NJ. “Two natural, non-GMO ingredients that work together for such a good taste profile make a great combination.”

Frutalose gains its all-natural profile because it, like other Sensus products, is extracted from the chicory root. Frutalose belongs to the group of fructans, naturally occurring storage carbohydrates present in numerous plants.

Inulin, which is an oligofructose, is classified as an ingredient, not an additive. It has the characteristic of a non-digestible carbohydrate from plants that reaches the colon largely intact and evokes physiological functions. That qualifies Frutalose as a soluble dietary fiber, another plus for a naturally sweet ingredient.

“The main reason it’s so good at masking artificial sweeteners is because of its own sweetness,” said Scott Turowski, technical sales manager for Sensus America. “It’s 75% dietary fiber and 65% the sweetness of sugar.

“The shift has gone with products that taste good and still deliver high amounts of fiber,” he added. “Chicory root fiber has been on the forefront of that innovation, delivering fiber in a way that’s not your old wood-stick cereal products.”

While Frutalose was initially found to improve taste profiles in spoonable and drinking yogurt, Mr. Turowski pointed out benefits offered for the baking industry. It has been used in applications such as cereal, granola bars, breads, pastas and fillings.

It comes in a liquid form and is delivered in 1,000-­liter totes, making it easy to swap in for existing syrups.

“Bakery fillings would be a good application,” Mr. Turowski said. “Typically in fillings, sweeteners are mostly in liquid form anyway. You can make a filling that’s 70% of the formula or higher by completely replacing any corn syrup or sugar.”

With a push for healthier, natural foods that retain a pleasant taste, Mr. Volz said companies have been eager to learn more about Frutalose’s benefits, especially when it comes to its pairing with stevia.

“Stevia is definitely on the radar, so companies are looking to use stevia as a natural high-intensity sweetener, but they also know that it doesn’t taste 100% like sugar,” he said. “When we explain to them that we have a model that allows them to view sweetness, cost and parameters like that, they’re interested in learning more about it.” 
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