Before lecithin was mass-produced for commercial use, food, beverage, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries used xanthan gum for the emulsification of their ingredients and to maintain the stability of the structure of the final product.
Since xanthan gums are manufactured through a fermentation process of sugars with a specific kind of bacteria, they aren’t considered natural. And, as the consumer got educated and informed, a lot of red flags were raised concerning its inclusion in many products, especially edibles and pharmaceuticals. Hence, the need for a naturally sourced emulsification agent arose and lecithin soon became the go-to ingredient of almost every industry.
As its usage increased so did the research on its chemical properties. It revealed that lecithin is a great emulsification agent because its hydrophobic ends dissolve in oil just as easily as they do in a water-based solution. Also, it has a strong emulsion phenomenon that keeps oil shielded and protected in water, maintaining its durability.
Lecithin is also comparatively healthy. Research shows that it improves mucus in the intestine while protecting the gastrointestinal mucosa. In contrast, people who are overly exposed to xanthan gum might experience indigestion problems.
But all this information can be easily found on the internet. What you want to know are the top 5 reasons manufacturers prefer lecithin over xanthan gum. Well, here they are:
Experienced bakers and ready-to-eat baked goods manufacturers, both hold the opinion that doughs mixed with xanthan gum don’t crumb quite as much. Whereas, lecithin is known for its crumbing ability and greatly enhances the texture and structure of any baked goods.
It’s ideal for mass-producing flannel and twinkle layer cakes, cream-filled and chocolate-covered cakes, and powdered cake mixes. When added to low-fat or fat-free muffins batter, lecithin prevents tunnelling, making the muffins chewier.
Food manufacturers require release agents to remove the batter or other ingredients’ leftovers from moulds, pans, tins, trays, conveyor belts, or packaging machines. That’s one more job for lecithin. Apart from being a great emulsifier, it’s widely used as a release agent as well. It is lecithin that keeps your favourite snack cakes from sticking to the wrapper or packaging.
Using lecithin in such products also reduces the calorie count, as very little of it is needed. Lecithin produces less overspray than oil, making the plant's working environment safer. On the other hand, xanthan gum has been used as a suspending agent for conventional and sustained releases.
Lecithin has a positive effect on the lubricity of extruded products. It Contributes to improved throughput and reduced cleaning time, all the while improving the product flow. Also, it does not adversely affect the density of the product.
Furthermore, in the production of fat-free extruded pretzels, lecithin can significantly reduce the downtime required for cleaning the cutting blades.
According to the Federation of Bakers UK, lecithin additionally helps with dust protection, apart from emulsification. A small amount of liquid lecithin is sprayed on the surface of a pan or tray to reduce the dustiness of the flour without affecting its function.
Xanthan gum cannot be used as a dust control agent due to its thickness. Although, it is known to suppress the corrosion of aluminium and steel surfaces.
A common challenge in the manufacturing of low-fat products is the machinability of various types of doughs. Another problem that lecithin solves. It not only brings a dramatic change in the texture of the dough but also improves the overall processability. When added to the mixture, it reduces the fat while increasing the stickiness of the dough, causing the dough to stick to rollers and cutters for mass production.
Who doesn’t love wafers? There’d be no ice cream cones without them. But did you know, there’d be no wafers without lecithin? Yes. Food manufacturers consider lecithin to be the secret ingredient of wafers as it assures rapid and rigorous emulsification of the fat.
It is highly preferred in the baking industry for its evenly absorbing properties and proficiency in maintaining dough properties. Moreover, it also embellishes the wafer by browning the dough without uneven and typical spots that can occur due to the bad dissipation of fat and poor dispersion of protein in the batter. Lecithin also gives a longer shelf life to wafers as it can make them less moisture absorbent. It is also why cones retain their crunchiness even when filled with ice cream.
Lecithin is also a great source for gluten-free baking. It furnishes the surface of the mixture, keeping the grains in uniform proportion. Since it has a strong analogous structure, lecithin can resist breakage.
In a nutshell, lecithin, being a strong and qualitative emulsifier, stands out to be an all-in-one solution for many industries. And since it is mostly sourced from soy, procuring it in large quantities isn’t a problem.
If you are in the manufacturing business and require lecithin in abundance, LECITEIN should be your go-to supplier. We are based in the UK and deal in only the highest quality plant-based lecithin. Our inventory includes everything from liquid to powder and granules. For questions and queries, feel free to connect.