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Food Coatings

Getting that crunch, flavour and nutrition: new takes on food coatings

Coatings go beyond enhancing flavour, texture and looks – to also serve functional purposes in food, especially when it’s frozen. Recent advances in ingredient technology are helping help processors meet emerging needs in battered and coated foods.

Crispy coverings with soft-and-chewy centres or smooth-and-tender outsides with crunchy bits inside—coatings and inclusions help improve flavour and add appeal.

On the outside, food coatings, such as a batter or breading in fried and baked foods, go beyond adding complex taste and texture components and contributing to aesthetics. They act as a barrier to mass transfer during frying, thereby reducing oil uptake and preventing moisture loss.
Today, practically everything—from nuggets to vegetables to wings—is breaded, battered, and glazed. Such treatments can add additional colour, flavour, and texture and, sometimes, even add a boost in nutrition or extended shelflife.
This transformation of an otherwise simple food into a culinary delight, while seemingly simple, requires careful consideration of ingredient, process, and economics.

Other key considerations include how the consumer will use it; and will it deliver its promise of a crunchy, crispy texture.
Working Class Heros
Coatings, batters, and breadings typically are crafted from a combination of flours or starch, water and seasoning. These seasonings run the gamut, from simple salt, pepper, spices, or herbs, to more complex flavour providers, such as cheese flavours, yeast flakes, MSG, and other flavour enhancers.

They also can be made with or without a leavening agent or a binder (such as egg). The goal is to form a fluid batter or even breading/batter coating on foods.
Batters can either be made of adhesive semi-liquid, into which food is dipped and subsequently coated with breading; or they can be tempura, which usually contains leavening substances and is applied solely to the food surface. Batter formulation is flexible, allowing for maximum adaptation to food product development.
The formulation, composition, physicochemical properties, and microstructural configuration of the components of batter and their relationships play a key role in product development and quality definition.

Contemporary consumers have sophisticated expectations for variety and convenience that demand a better understanding of batters and breading systems. Improved functionality and quality, as well as cost-effectiveness with the use of new and clean ingredients that add further value, are top of mind for those in batter formulation.
Interestingly, there still are some unknowns in relation to the physical and chemical properties of batters in process, such as aspects and mechanisms of fat uptake, moisture loss, texture, structure, viscosity, thermal gelation vis their composition and formulation.
Pulse Positive
Crunchiness, inside or outside a product, has become an increasingly popular demand in recent years, no matter the type of food and whether savoury or sweet.

The desire for crunchy textures also is moving beyond the snack category to become the centre-of-plate meal component. But, when it comes to including a crunchy outside or inclusion, ingredient functionality is critical to the transformation. For outside crunch, coatings must adhere and cover the product completely.
Battered and breaded foods must be crisp and crunchy, not oil-logged or soggy. Carrying and delivering flavours through the various preparation steps is a precision process with specific challenges at each step.
A current and almost universal trend is the use of protein-rich ingredients to deliver crunchiness to coatings.

Recent advances in ingredient technology help processors meet emerging needs in battered and coated foods. This is especially true for the growing demands for healthier foods, higher protein, and accommodating allergy needs or preferences (based on both valid and perceived health benefits)…..

Pulse-based ingredients are thus finding their way into coatings and conclusions. They are high in protein, non-GMO, vegetarian, and often sustainably sourced.

They also are of the “in the right place at the right time” ingredient category, in that the UN recently declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.
Give Peas a Chance
Pea and other pulse flours and proteins readily can be used to replace wheat and corn flours in coatings. Product developers are turning to lentils, fava beans, and chickpeas, because they are naturally non-GMO, gluten-free, low-allergenic—and are rich in protein, fibre, and a host of micronutrients….. Read the full article

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