COLUMBUS, OHIO – The combination of gums and crackers may seem odd, but the pairing may lead to lower fat content and calories in the crackers. Hydrocolloids, including gums, may be used to replace oil and sugar as ingredients that keep powders and small particulates, such as seasonings, stuck to a food’s surface, including a cracker’s surface, according to a study appearing on-line Oct. 2 in the Journal of Food Science.

Researchers in the Department of Food Science at The Ohio State University in Columbus placed food powders on crackers that had been coated using water, oil, emulsion, sucrose or hydrocolloid solutions. The hydrocolloids included gellan gum, kappa-carrageenan, methylcellulose, gum karaya, gum tragacanth, gum Arabic, guar gum, modified starch and maltodextrin.

For salt, barbecue, ranch, and sour cream and onion seasoning, hydrocolloids improved the adhesion over using water alone. Gellan gum provided the greatest adhesion. For cheese powder, hydrocolloids were capable of replacing the oil within an emulsion while improving or maintaining the same level of adhesion. Gum Arabic, also known as acacia gum, provided the greatest adhesion. For cocoa powder, hydrocolloid solutions were ineffective adhesives.

The effect of hydrocolloid concentration on adhesion was dependent both on the hydrocolloid type and the concentration that is spray-able. The optimum concentration for most gums was 0.5%.

Increasing sucrose concentration decreased adhesion of smaller particles and increased adhesion of larger particles. Adhesion of salt significantly increased with decreasing salt size using oil, water and sucrose solutions.