High-oleic canola, soy and sunflower oils give formulators new options to fry with stability for appealing baked foods and snacks, according to Roger Daniels, vice-president, R&D and innovation, Stratas Foods, Memphis, TN. In this exclusive Q&A, Baking & Snack talked to this expert about the challenges and successes of working with new oils.

Baking & Snack: Which baked products and/or snacks been most successful in making the switch away from frying fats and liquid oils that contain trans fatty acids? Why?

Roger Daniels: Water, the universal solvent, and oxygen are key components for life. However, these components present in bakery or snack products in an uncontrolled fashion will negatively impact the taste and quality of the finished product. This is due principally to the degradation reaction potential of oxygen and its participation in driving autoxidation reactions in mono- and poly-unsaturated lipids. Autoxidized lipids are characterized by off odors and flavors ranging from grassy to painty.

Historically, shortening and oils shelf life enhancement was achieved via the use of a process known as partial hydrogenation. This chemical process allowed for the conversion of polyunsaturates to more stable forms of poly- and / or mono- unsaturates. The unfortunate side effect was the development of trans fat.

In the post trans fat era, the achievement of reduced polyunsaturates in shortening and oils has been achieved via selective blending and enzymatic interesterification and / or advances in crop science.

The advances in crop science or High Oleic Oil option is an approach that has met with success in savory snacks requiring a spray covering, fried snacks applications, and as a component in a plastic shortening blend for functional bakery applications. Examples of High Oleic Oils include:

*          High Oleic Sunflower: This non-GMO oil provides exceptional fry and bakery life, easy clean-up in frying applications and a clean neutral flavor

*          High Oleic Soybean: This new to the market oil provides exceptional fry and bakery life, easy clean-up in frying applications and a traditional soybean oil flavor

*          High Oleic Canola: This oil provides great fry and bakery life, easy clean-up in frying applications and a traditional canola oil flavor

The selective blending and enzymatic interesterification approach involves blending a high melting component with a liquid oil option and then subjecting the blend to a fixed enzyme bed which intimately arranges the fatty acids of the source oils at the glycerol backbone 1 and 3 positions resulting in a finished blend which is more plastic in melting character than if the source oils were to remain in a physical blend format. Shortenings prepared via this approach have been successful in functional bakery applications.

What must the formulator know about trans-free frying shortenings to ensure their successful use?

Frying shortenings transfer heat to achieve a dehydration reaction in a finished food product that is typical of a deep fried product. Frying shortenings should be selected that will impart acceptable flavors over the life of the frying shortening. In addition, if a fried product application is a donut, care must be exercised to achieve a saturated fat level that will minimize wicking or leaching out of the liquid oil component, and not too high to impart a waxy mouthfeel.