A fat’s contribution
Frying fats not only conduct heat to cook the dough, but they also are absorbed by the food during frying, and the finished product can take on attributes of the oil. Flavor, texture, mouthfeel, nutritional profile — the oil has an impact on all of these. Start by considering the end goals in the finished product from all of these angles, and then choose the oil that can deliver.
First things first, taste. Consumers’ No. 1 priority when it comes to their food is taste, and bakers and snack producers usually don’t want the frying fat to contribute its own flavor to the donut or potato chip.
“You want the flavor of the food to come through,” said Frank Flider, consultant, Qualisoy. “For instance, you wouldn’t fry apple snack pies in sesame oil.”
Flavor issues can be solved by either using a flavorless, odorless oil or blending oils with other oils or emulsifiers to offset any flavor issues that might arise from otherwise functional fats.
Bunge Oil offers a high-performance algae oil that doesn’t contribute its own flavor or odor to the finished product. Additionally, it has low saturated-fat content and high levels of omega-9s.
For applications where semi-solid fats can be helpful, coconut oil is a decent alternative to phos from a functionality standpoint, said Jim Doucet, R.&D. manager, Corbion, but it can impart its own sensory notes. Corbion’s emulsifiers can be combined with liquid oils to help deliver cleaner tastes and flavors and reduce waxy mouthfeel in Danish and donuts.
While frying oil shouldn’t contribute to taste, the absorption of the oil into the product as it cooks should contribute to the development of the product’s structure, texture and mouthfeel. It’s important that bakers and snack producers understand how a given frying fat will impact their final product, Mr. Cummisford said.
“For pastries and donuts, the selected frying oil will need a melting point above body temperature and a relatively sharp melting profile,” he said. “This allows the product to drain slightly after frying, and then as the product cools, the oil will begin to solidify and provide proper mouthfeel and other perceptions.”
Solid fat is what donuts and pastries rely on for the final attributes that consumers expect.
“Many baked goods and snacks require solid fat for appearance and eating quality,” said Linsen Liu, Ph.D., vice-president of R.&D., Loders Croklaan.
Not only does solid fat contribute to texture and mouthfeel, but it also helps the donut retain any coatings.
Solids can also prevent greasiness.
“You don’t want to squeeze a donut and have oil come out,” Mr. Flider said.
Phos have a semi-solid structure that allowed them to create the mouthfeel and texture consumers expected from their donuts. Some pho alternatives have the proper solid fat content while others may have different functional properties but no solids.
Palm oil has enough solids to deliver the expected eating experience of donuts; however, it can take longer for the donuts to set up when fried in palm oil. Cargill addressed this with a reduced-palm shortening that provides a clean taste and faster set time over standard palm shortenings, Dr. Satumba explained.
A common alternative to phos, high-oleic oils do not contain fat solids. However, they can be blended with fully hydrogenated soybean oil or palm oils to achieve the functionality bakers need, said Duncan Guy, director of technical services, Bunge Oils.
While semi-solid fats can prevent donuts from being greasy, in snack foods it’s the liquid-based fry oils that do this job.
“Phos offered a longer fry life and impart some unique properties to finished snack foods,” Mr. Cummisford said. “These can be mimicked or improved on by using a variety of vegetable oils, including the high-oleic ones along with antioxidants, both natural and synthetic.”
In snack foods where some solid fats are needed, he suggested palm oil or animal fats could do the trick.
While fat may be functional in frying, the health implications cannot go unstated since that’s why phos were banned in the first place.
“In applications such as donut frying and heavy-duty frying, there have been challenges replacing high-trans phos with low-trans alternatives,” Mr. Tiffany said.
ADM offers a variety of low-trans, non-pho choices to meet such functional demands.
“Formulators wanting to use pho alternatives while lowering saturated fats can use blends of liquid oils with palm or palm fractions,” he continued. “Blends of liquid oils with interesterified hard stocks or fully hydrogenated vegetable oils also are means to provide lower saturated fat contents, depending on the application.”