Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2023-09-22 Origin: Site
In the world of sweeteners, perfection is a multi-faceted goal. An ideal sweetener must meet several requirements: safety, purity in taste akin to sucrose, high sweetness, low caloric value, stability, non-cariogenic properties, and affordability. Currently, no single sweetener molecule exists that can fully satisfy all these criteria. This has led to the emergence of blended sweeteners, also known as composite sweeteners. Sweetener blending involves combining individual sweeteners based on their sweetness, flavor, and other physicochemical properties, considering the processing requirements of the target food product. Through precise calculations, measurements, mixing, sensory evaluations, and other operations, composite sweeteners are formulated. They can eliminate the off-flavors, such as bitterness or astringency, associated with individual sweeteners, bringing the taste closer to sucrose while being cost-effective and convenient for manufacturers.
Safety, Quality, Processing, and Cost: These four factors drive the necessity of sweetener blending. No single sweetener currently exists that can completely meet these requirements. In fact, many synthetic sweeteners exhibit different tastes and may leave a bitter or metallic aftertaste. Some synthetic sweeteners taste good at low concentrations but become less sweet and less palatable as the solution's concentration increases.
Heat and Shelf Stability: Some synthetic sweeteners are not heat-stable and lose sweetness over time. For example, the well-known sucralose, with sweetness close to sucrose, may experience reduced sweetness after two years of storage. Moreover, artificial sweeteners often lack the full-bodied sweetness and thickness of sucrose.
Natural sweeteners, mostly extracted from herbs and fruits, have limitations. Among them, steviol glycosides, derived from the stevia plant, hold great promise due to their production volume, sweetness level, affordability, and natural origin. However, the lingering bitter aftertaste has hindered their widespread use, relegating them to a supplementary role in sweetening. Monk fruit extract faces a similar issue.
Physicochemical Properties: Constraints in the physicochemical properties, allowable usage levels, and pricing of single sweeteners often prevent achieving satisfactory results when used alone.
Sweetener blending aims to:
Reduce Off-Flavors and Enhance Flavor: By exploiting the synergistic effects and physiological characteristics of various sweeteners, off-flavors can be minimized and the overall flavor improved.
Shorten Taste Onset: Blending reduces the time it takes for sweetness to kick in.
Enhance Sweetness Stability: Sweetener blends can improve sweetness stability.
Reduce Overall Usage and Costs: Composite sweeteners enable the reduction of total sweetener usage, thus lowering production costs.
In practical applications, there are three primary categories of composite sweeteners:
Type I: These blends primarily consist of synthetic sweeteners as the base components. They are cost-effective and can meet the basic taste requirements of food products.
Type II: These blends have synthetic sweeteners as the main base, complemented by natural sweeteners.
Type III: These are composed entirely of natural sweeteners as the base, leveraging advanced technology and other natural sweeteners for synergy. They align with the current trends of natural, healthy, and environmentally friendly sweeteners.
Blending sweeteners can maximize their benefits while reducing costs. One prime example is the combination of acesulfame potassium (AK) with other sweeteners. This blend exhibits strong synergistic effects, increasing sweetness by 20%-50% at typical concentrations. When combined in a 1:1 ratio with aspartame, sweetness immediately jumps to 300 times that of sucrose, and the stability of aspartame significantly improves. Blending AK with saccharin also produces noticeable sweetness enhancement.
One well-received option is the combination of erythritol and steviol glycosides. Erythritol's high heat tolerance complements steviol glycosides' weakness in this regard. Moreover, combining erythritol with other high-intensity sweeteners like sucralose or allulose can effectively mask their aftertastes.
Sweetener blending is a natural evolution in the food industry's pursuit of excellence. As quality standards rise, and processing requirements become more demanding, high-quality, safe, and nutritionally sound composite sweeteners hold immense market potential. Many sweeteners used today are not single molecules but rather blends of multiple components, providing manufacturers with greater flexibility and delivering more satisfying products.
In summary, sweetener blending represents the future of sweetener applications. As the food industry advances, so too will the sophistication of sweetener blends, offering improved taste, longer shelf life, enhanced cost-effectiveness, and greater creative freedom for product developers.