A dairy ingredient evolution

by Donna Berry
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New technologies make the baker’s original enrichers even better, becoming more functional and boosting their considerable nutritional advantages.

Milk … visually, it appears to be one of the simplest foods in today’s complex world, yet it is anything but simple.

As is, milk offers a nutrient powerhouse for humans. Most milk, however, gets converted into dairy foods like cheese, ice cream and yogurt, or its myriad macro and micro components get separated and purified into ingredients, many of which have long been used by bakers.

These ingredients not only contribute to the physical and sensory qualities of baked goods, but they also add nutrition, in particular, protein and calcium. Recent advances in separation technology have resulted in development of new value-added dairy ingredients, enabling on-trend innovations, such as products designed for sports nutrition, weight management and healthful snacking. Let’s explore the evolving dairy ingredients marketplace.

First comes milk

Although milk is simple, dairy ingredients can be quite complex. “It is necessary to understand the components of the specific dairy ingredient to make sure they are used appropriately and not to the detriment of the baking process or final baked goods,” said Pam Gribou, director, R&D and applications, First Choice Ingredients, Germantown, WI.

Bakers traditionally rely on dairy ingredients for their performance in recipes. In fact, high-heat nonfat dry milk (NFDM) is referred to in the baking industry as bakers’ dry milk, noted Jill Rippe, director of R&D, Agropur Ingredients, La Crosse, WI.

As the name suggests, NFDM is fat-free milk dried into a powder. This particular version has been treated with high heat, which denatures the proteins.

“Traditionally used in many baked goods to enhance water binding and prolong shelf life, NFDM also contributes dairy flavor notes, desirable crust browning, enhanced yeast fermentation and improved stability of the batter or dough emulsion to create a premium bakery product,” Ms. Rippe said.

Dairy-based Greek yogurt powder lends a distinctive tang and popular appeal to coatings for nutrition bars.

Denaturation of the proteins is paramount. “Unless the proteins undergo expensive high-heat treatment, they can interfere with the rising properties of some baked goods,” said Jessica Henry, marketing manager, Idaho Milk Products, Jerome, ID. “Undenatured whey proteins disrupt gluten’s viscoelastic ability to form stable gas pockets, thereby resulting in a less stable baked structure and a decrease in risen volume after baking.”

Like nonfat milk, most fluid milk products are available in dry format, including whole milk and cream. These commodity dairy ingredients find application in a wide variety of baked goods, with new uses for old favorites always being discovered.

For example, the Food and Drug Administration’s recent revocation of the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) will require their removal from all foods by 2018. “Our standard-of-identity dry cream powders are premium replacement for PHOs,” said Gerry Buescher, director of new business development at Agropur Ingredients. “They provide excellent functionality and improved flavor and taste, as compared with PHOs.”

Curds, and then there’s whey

Numerous dried dairy ingredients are produced from whey, the liquid drained off during cheesemaking. “The component we most want to isolate and harvest from whey — protein — is at a very low concentration,” said Lloyd Metzger, PhD, professor and chair of dairy education at South Dakota State University, and director of the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, Brookings, SD. “Whey is primarily water and lactose. It is only about 0.8% total protein.”

Separation technologies can isolate specific components of whey or any other fluid milk stream. These methods produce concentrated forms of milk’s nutrients with unique functional and nutritional properties.

For example, bakers know that lactose, a reducing sugar unique to milk, enhances browning. Lactose is not fermented by yeast. Rather, it enters into the Maillard browning reaction with amino acids and caramelizes readily under the influence of oven heat.

When it comes to whey proteins, some companies make cheese just to purify the whey. They sell the cheese to marketers and distributors and focus their efforts on producing whey ingredients.

To add sports nutrition appeal to muffins, put whey protein concentrates or isolates into the formula.

Dr. Metzger spoke this summer at Alpha Summit 2015, a whey protein conference held at Jerome, ID, sponsored by Davisco, Eden Prairie, MN, a business unit of Agropur Inc., Longueuil, QC. He explained the differences and similarities of separation technologies, including membrane filtration and ion-exchange, and how the two can be used in combination to isolate and purify desirable components of whey.

“Ion exchange yields protein fractions with fewer impurities,” he said. “These impurities impact the amino acid profile as well as the ingredient’s solubility, heat stability, gelation and foaming properties.”

Davisco manufactures a range of ingredients including whey protein concentrate (WPC) and whey protein isolate (WPI). The company commercialized its ion-exchange technology about five years ago to manufacture a proprietary WPI with a leucine content of 13.1%, which is much higher than the 11% found in most WPI ingredients. Leucine is associated with promoting muscle health, making WPI attractive for sports nutrition products like protein bars and muffins.

The company now uses the technology to isolate and purify other components of milk, most notably alpha-lactalbumin, the primary protein in human milk.

In addition to being used in infant formula to more closely mimic mothers’ milk, alpha-lactalbumin has potential in mood-enhancing foods. This is because it is uniquely rich in tryptophan, the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin that has been shown to affect mood. Studies show that alpha-­lactalbumin improves morning alertness and, in the evening, assists with focusing and attention.

Permeate’s potential

Advanced separation technologies enabled commercial development of permeate, also called dairy product solids — a rather new offering in the dairy ingredients sector and one that is making major inroads in product development. This high-lactose dairy ingredient is produced by collecting protein and other solids from milk or whey via physical separation techniques.

Idaho Milk Products is all about taking farm-fresh milk daily and using separation technology to create three ingredients: cream, milk permeate powder (MPP) and milk protein concentrate (MPC). “MPP does not contain any interfering whey proteins; thus, it will not impede formation and stabilization of the air pocket structure in rising baked goods,” Ms. Henry explained. “At the same time, the lactose in MPP helps enhance appetite appeal by yielding a desirable browning color and preferred toasted dairy flavor.”

Permeate, sweet whey and whey protein concentrate with a 34% protein content (WPC34) can be used as an economic replacement to high-heat NFDM, according to Ms. Rippe. “While WPC34 is comparable in composition to NFDM in protein and lactose, sweet whey will add less protein and more lactose, while permeate adds no protein and even more lactose,” she said. “Decreasing protein reduces water binding, and increasing lactose enhances browning. So, varying protein and lactose content with WPC/whey/permeate blends will modify batter and dough functionality, reducing costs while retaining certain benefits of NFDM.”

Additionally, permeate lets bakers cut down on added salt, enabling reduced-sodium formulations with enhanced browning or sweetness.

“The milk minerals and nitrogen compounds in MPP deliver a desirable salty flavor without contributing to a high-sodium content,” Ms. Henry said. “Our MPP can reduce salt in pizza crust formulations by more than 70%.”

After dairy products, baked goods are the second most common application for permeate, representing 18% of all new product launches in 2014, according to data from Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands. Baked products, such as breads, crackers, cookies, snacks and sweet goods, benefit from permeate’s contribution to browning, moisture retention, and pleasant salty and caramelized flavors.

“US suppliers have invested research and development efforts revealing the sensory, functional and nutritional benefits of whey and milk permeates as cost-saving, flavor-enhancing ingredients,” said Vikki Nicholson, senior vice-president of global marketing, US Dairy Export Council, Arlington, VA.

Concentrated whey protein ingredients such as WPI and whey protein concentrate 80% (WPC80) contain lactalbumin whey proteins, which emulsify batters and gel in baked goods, similar to egg white albumin. As concentrated sources of protein, these dairy ingredients can also contribute nutrition.

“Our WPI and WPC80 are ideal for enhancing protein in bakery mixes, such as pancakes, bars and cookies, up to 20 g protein per serving,” Ms. Rippe said. “The high water-binding properties of whey proteins must be taken into account in the formulation.

Flavor, protein matters

Advanced fermentation technologies enable development of natural, clean-label dairy-derived flavors — everything from butter to cheese to cream — that deliver their characterizing flavors to baked goods. Made from the actual dairy product and typically in paste or powder format, these ingredients can contribute function (beyond flavor) as well as nutrition.

Savory snack crackers made with milk permeate powder get a protein boost along with a cut in sodium content.

“We not only can pinpoint the fermentation reactions responsible for producing flavor-specific compounds and their precursors but also direct the fermentations to produce elevated levels of desired products,” Ms. Gribou said. “As consumers continue to look for healthier foods that taste better, fermentation of dairy ingredients is one way we will be able to satisfy this quest.” She cited the example of lower-fat foods that often require assistance in delivering rich flavor. Ingredients derived from structured dairy fermentations will meet this need without contributing “chemical sounding” names to ingredient statements.

“The flavor produced in dairy ingredients via fermentation provides a much more authentic profile as opposed to replicating the major desired flavor components through the addition of purified aroma chemicals,” she continued. “Fermentation not only enhances specific flavor characteristic, but there will be side activities happening, which also improve the overall end flavor.” This includes emulsification properties, as well as the ability to improve texture and mouthfeel.

The popularity of Greek yogurt led Glanbia Nutritionals Inc., Fitchburg, WI, to market a grade A Greek yogurt powder that conveys the unique flavor — and a “made with Greek yogurt” claim — to all types of products, including protein bars and even coated cookies. Produced from cultured skim milk and MPC, the ingredient helps build viscosity while delivering the sour taste one expects with Greek yogurt, as well as some of the protein.

Indeed, there’s a great deal of interest in using dairy to boost the protein content of baked goods, especially in the snacking arena.

At SupplySide West in October, Davisco showcased a premium trail mix protein bar containing hydrolyzed whey protein that is lactose-, fat- and gluten-free. Hydrolysis is a natural process that improves protein’s bioavailability and bioactivity.

Idaho Milk sampled savory snack crackers that deliver 9 g protein in every serving. “You also get great flavor,” Ms. Henry said. “By using MPP as the primary flavor carrier in the seasoning, you can reduce sodium levels as well.”

Arla Foods Ingredients, Basking Ridge, NJ, developed a high-protein snack cake containing up to 10% whey protein and 200 mg calcium in a 21-g, 100-Cal serving. Showcased at iba in Munich this past September by Arla’s head office at Viby J, Denmark, the cake formula is completely egg-free, helping bakers control costs and overcome supply chain difficulties sometimes associated with eggs. It also results in a formula lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than other cakes. From a technical perspective, the snack cake is straightforward to manufacture and scores highly on moistness, structure, stability and shelf life, according to the company.

K.J. Burrington, dairy ingredient applications coordinator, Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, Madison, WI, summed up the future of dairy ingredients in baked goods. “There isn’t a baked good that can’t benefit from the function or nutrition of dairy ingredients,” she said. “Traditionally, dairy ingredients have provided great flavor, appealing texture and structure, and attractive color. We now know they offer additional advantages, including nutritional benefits, new functionalities and increased versatility.”

The more dairy scientists and processors learn about the complexity of the ingredients derived from the simple food called milk, the more opportunities bakers can reap to better respond to ever-changing consumer demands.

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