The stable, semi-solid emulsion of fats and water in Margarine is achieved through the emulsification process by adding lecithin in it. Aside from emulsion, lecithin also helps increase the elasticity in margarine.
Since lecithin is safe for human consumption and also holds texture-sustaining properties, it remains a core ingredient in the production of margarine.
Margarine is considered a healthier alternative to butter for breakfast tables as it’s comparatively low in saturated fats. Usually, margarine’s contents are 70-80% fat and 26% water along with some amount of Carbohydrates.
And, as we know that water and fat do not mix with each other, an emulsifier is added to cause water and oil emulsion during the production of margarine. That emulsifier is lecithin, one of the most popular Food & Beverage industry ingredients and often a staple in the manufacturing of many low-fat spreads.
Lecithin’s chemical structure is amphiphilic, with one end being hydrophilic and the other lipophilic. Using both ends simultaneously, lecithin disperses the droplets of water which is in lesser amounts into the oil forming a smooth and stable butter-like consistency in margarine.
The size of droplets in the continuous phase can vary based on the water-oil ratio of the emulsion but water droplets of 1-5 microns give the best emulsion quality.
Soy lecithin is usually used in the production of margarine, however, sunflower lecithin can also be used since both have similar properties. Whichever one you choose, just remember, lecithin with a low hydrophilic-lipophilic balance creates optimum water in oil emulsions and produces smooth textured margarine.
For margarine production, lecithin with four HLB is preferable to obtain the best results. Whereas, low-fat margarine spreads with a higher water content compared to regular margarine require hydrolyzed lecithin with at least eight HLB.
In short, different forms of margarine require varying types of lecithin. Enzymatically modified or hydrolysed lecithins are commonly used in margarine. For example, standard solid margarine with more than 80% fat is generally stable under normal conditions and retains its shape at a temperature of 20 +/- 2°C; to produce them, 0.2% lecithin is required in addition to the percentage of milk proteins usually given in the formulation.
On the other hand, liquid margarine and reduced fat bar margarine have a soft plastic consistency at 10 +/- 2°C and are typically made with the same fat base as conventional consumer margarine.
Based on soy or sunflower oil, liquid margarine includes approximately 82% of the fat phase. As a result, the usage of citric acid ester and monoglycerides in conjunction with soy lecithin results in a stable aqueous dispersion.
The qualitative enhancement by the addition of lecithin in butter is not just limited to a stable emulsion but also the improved machinability of margarine. During the production process, lecithin improves the plasticity of margarine, as well as assists in the aeration of cake margarine.
Since lecithin is a surface active ingredient, it helps give the product a uniform flow without sticking and spattering during the production process. Lecithin creates an invisible barrier between margarine and carrier containers so the product does not stick to the packaging material during storage. Its releasing properties aid in the hassle-free removal of margarine from pans, moulds, belts, and tins.
The use of lecithin in the production of margarine is a fine example of how science and technology can be applied to improve the quality of food and beverage products.
Lecithin is an important ingredient in the production of margarine as it serves varying purposes from emulsification to improving the texture of the end product, making it smooth and spreadable with ease. It also aids in the preservation and stabilisation of its form.
Finally, as compared to synthetic emulsifiers, lecithin can be sourced from natural sources such as soybeans and sunflower seeds, making it not only environmentally more sustainable but also a healthier alternative.
LECITEIN carries in its inventory plat-based lecithin in both organic and GMO variants with varying HLB levels to meet the needs of the F&B sector. So, if you are in the market seeking a reliable supplier to source soy lecithin or sunflower lecithin, get in touch with us. We guarantee great quality and unmatched customer support.