With the growing health and sustainability trends picking up momentum in most parts of the world, the use of natural colours and colouring foods as an alternative to artificial colours is becoming less of an option and more a requirement.
The most common innovation need from a colouring perspective is to secure well performing alternatives to artificial food colours with natural solutions.
A category that does not have to deal with the legacy of artificial colours is the plant-based category. However, since the colour of plant-based proteins is often an unattractive grey-brownish colour, colourants play a crucial role in making protein products look appetising.
Colouring plant-based proteins
When developing colour formulations using natural sources for specific applications, factors like process temperature, acidity, interaction with other additives and exposure to light need to be considered to achieve the desired shade and colour performance. Alongside these factors, a good understanding of the composition of the protein base is also important.
Natural colours and colouring foods react differently to the various plant-based protein sources such as soy, pea, wheat, beans and quinoa in terms of shade and performance. Since plant-based protein products often consist of multiple protein sources, it often comes down to formulating a colour blend using different natural sources. Each colourant has its own role to play in the colour behaviour of the application.
Mimicking the colour of real meat
When formulating a colourant for plant-based patties, a combination of beetroot and malt can be used. Betanin – the colouring pigment in beetroot – perfectly blends into the soy and wheat protein base, giving it the red-pinkish meat-like colour of an uncooked pattie.
During the heating process, the betanin pigments will lose their colour due to thermal instability. This is where the browning effect of sugars in beetroot comes into effect, as the sugars undergo a Maillard reaction during the heating process. This browning effect can be finetuned by adding colourants like malt to obtain a realistic brown “grilled” colour like the colour of a prepared pattie.
At BioconColors, we specialise in the production and formulation of application-specific colourants for the food, beverage and cosmetic industries.
Using just naturally sourced colourants, our colour specialists work in close cooperation with our customers to formulate tailor-made colourants that work optimally for both consumer and producer alike.
Read more about our natural colours and colouring foods…
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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