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© Food – a fact of life 2009 Functional properties overview Foundation DRAFT ONLY
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Learning objectives To understand the functional properties of carbohydrate, protein and fats in food.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Introduction Ingredients have a range of different properties. Sometimes these are called functions. The main nutrient provided by an ingredient gives it a range of properties during cooking. Carbohydrate, protein and fat all have a range of different properties.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Carbohydrate The term carbohydrate covers a wide range of natural compounds, including: starch; sugar, fibre or non starch polysaccharides (NSP).
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Carbohydrate in food Many foods contain some carbohydrate, but the amounts of sugar, starch and fibre differ. Sugars are naturally present in foods such as milk, fruits, vegetables and honey. In the UK, sugar beet and sugar cane are the most common sources of sugar. Honey, treacle and golden syrup are also popular. Starch is present in foods such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Carbohydrate in food Fibre is present in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, especially the skin covering of seeds. It is a mixture of substances (mainly complex carbohydrates) which cannot be digested in the small intestine. Fibre (NSP), e.g. cellulose and pectin and guar gum is found in fruits, vegetables, beans and cereals.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Carbohydrate Carbohydrate performs different functions in food products. They: help cause the colour change of bread, toast and bakery products; contribute to the chewiness, colour and sweet flavour of caramel; thicken products such as sauces and custards.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Dextrinisation Foods which are baked, grilled or roasted undergo colour, odour and flavour changes. This process is called dextrinisation. Dextrinisation contributes to the colour and flavour of many foods such as toast, bread and croissants. This is known as non-enzymic browning (Maillard reaction).
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Caramelisation When sucrose (sugar) is heated above its melting point it undergoes a physical change to produce caramel. This happens more readily without water, however syrups will caramelise with rapid heating. This process is used extensively in the production of confectionary.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Gelatinisation When starch is mixed with liquid and heated, the starch granules swell and eventually rupture, absorbing liquid which thickens the mixture, e.g. a white sauce. On cooling, if enough starch is used, a gel forms. This process is used to make blancmange.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Other Characteristics Flavouring Sugar, e.g. sucrose, may be used to flavour many products such as drinks, cakes, tomato sauce and confectionary. It supplies sweetness and mouth feel. Preserving Sugar in high concentrations prevents the growth of micro-organisms. It is used extensively in the production of jam, marmalade and some canned fruit. Jelling Some fruits, such as apples and blackcurrants, are rich sources of pectin. Pectin is used as a jelling agent when making jam.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Protein Protein performs different functions in food products. They: aerate foods, e.g. whisking egg whites; thicken sauces, e.g. egg custard; bind ingredients together, e.g. fish cakes; form structures, e.g. gluten development in bread; gel, e.g. lime jelly.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Denaturation Denaturation is the change in structure of protein molecules. Factors which contribute to denaturation are heat, salts, pH and mechanical action. Denaturation is a partially reversible change. For example, when an egg white is whisked it incorporates air to form a foam. If the foam is left to stand, it will collapse back to form liquid egg white.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Coagulation Coagulation follows denaturation. For example, when egg white is cooked it changes colour and becomes firmer or sets. This change is irreversible. Other applications of coagulation are: cheese and yogurt making; thickening of sauces with beaten egg; binding ingredients together, e.g. fish, cakes; providing a coating for products, e.g. scotch eggs.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Gluten Gluten is a composite of proteins joined with starch, it is acquired by washing wheat flour to dissolve the starch, leaving the gluten. Gluten is strong, elastic and forms a 3D network in dough. When making bread, kneading helps to develop the gluten and make the dough more elastic. Gluten helps give structure to bread and keeps in the gases that expand during cooking.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Gelation Gelatine is a protein which is from collagen, present in connective tissue in meat. When it is mixed with warm water the gelatine proteins unwind. On cooling a gel is formed, trapping the liquid, e.g. jelly. Gelation is reversible.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Fats Fats performs different functions in food products. They help to: add ‘shortness’ or ‘flakiness’ to foods, e.g. shortbread, pastry; provide a range of textures and cooking mediums; glaze foods, e.g. butter on carrots; aerate mixtures, e.g. a creamed cake mix; add a range of flavours.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Fats Fats have a range of properties, which are useful to exploit during preparing and cooking dishes. Shortening Shortcrust pastry, biscuits and shortbread rely on fat to give them their characteristic crumbly texture. The fats coat the flour particles and prevents them from absorbing water. This reduces the formation of gluten development, which would cause the dough to become elastic. Fats such as pure vegetable fats or lard are suitable for shortening because of their low water content.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Plasticity Fats do not melt at fixed temperatures, but over a range. This property is called plasticity. It gives all fats unique character. This is why some fats are solid or liquid at room temperature, e.g. olive oil and lard. Some products are formulated with fats with lower melting points so they can spread from the fridge, e.g. margarine, or melt on the tongue, e.g. chocolate. Other fats have a higher melting point and are used for cooking, e.g. vegetable oil.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Aeration Products such as creamed cakes need air incorporated into the mixture in order to give a well risen texture. This is achieved by creaming a fat, such as butter or margarine, with caster sugar. Small bubbles of air are incorporated and form a stable foam.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Flakiness Flaky and puff pastry use fat to help separate layers of gluten and starch formed in the dough. The fat melts during cooking, leaving minute layers. The liquid present produces steam which evaporates and causes the layers to rise. The fat prevents the layers sticking together.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Other characteristics Retention of moisture Some fats can help retain a bakery product’s moisture and increase its shelf-life. They may also be used to baste food being cooked by dry heat, e.g. roast beef. Glaze Placed on hot vegetables, some fats give glossy appearance, e.g. butter or margarine. Fats also add shine to sauces.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Sensory attributes All fats and oils have unique flavours and odours. Some are more suited for particular purposes than others, e.g. olive oil for salad dressing (for flavour) and lard for pastry (due to its blandness). They can also contribute to the texture of the food, for example increasing succulence.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 Review of the learning objectives To understand the functional properties of carbohydrate, protein and fats in food.
© Food – a fact of life 2009 For more information visit
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