• Lecithin Food

What is Deoiled Soy Lecithin?

Soy lecithin is widely used in the food, beverage, and chocolate manufacturing industries as an emulsifier. However, a refined version, deoiled soy lecithin, offers distinct advantages and functionalities compared to its cruder counterpart.

In this article, we look at deoiled soy lecithin, exploring its characteristics, benefits, and key differences that separate it from regular soy lecithin.

The Foundation of Soy Lecithin

Lecithin is a natural substance extracted from soybeans, more specifically its oil. It consists of a group of phospholipids and essential fats that play a crucial role in the development of cell membranes. 

In its natural state, soy lecithin contains a significant amount of soybean oil, which often causes an allergic reaction among people with food sensitivities, when consumed.

Creating Deoiled Soy Lecithin

Deoiled soy lecithin undergoes a refining process that removes most of the soybean oil, typically to a level below 3%. This process enhances the functionality and versatility of deoiled soy lecithin for various food applications.

Here are some key methods used in deoiling:

1. Solvent Extraction

A solvent like acetone is used to extract the oil, leaving behind a concentrated lecithin fraction.

2. Degumming

Then, water is used to remove the non-lecithin components, including gums and carbohydrates.

3. Centrifugation

After degumming, a high-speed centrifugation process separates the remaining oil from the lecithin fraction.

Comparative Advantages of Deoiled Soy Lecithin

Compared to regular soy lecithin, the deoiled variant offers several advantages for food manufacturers. Let’s look at the most unique ones:

1. Enhanced Functionality

Deoiled soy lecithin provides improved emulsifying and dispersing capabilities thanks to its reduced oil content. This translates to a more consistent and stable product across various applications.

2. Neutral Flavour and Colour

It has a neutral flavour and lighter colour profile, which minimises any potential impact on the final product's sensory characteristics. This is particularly beneficial for applications where preserving the natural taste and colour is of utmost importance.

3. Improved Flowability

The lower oil content makes deoiled soy lecithin easier to handle and incorporate into food formulations, translating to better efficiency during production processes.

4. Clean Label Appeal

Due to its negligible allergen presence, deoiled soy lecithin is considered a natural ingredient that aligns well with clean-label trends in the food industry. Additionally, the oil removal process concentrates the phospholipid content, which some consumers may perceive as a healthier option.

Types of Deoiled Soy Lecithin

Like its impure cousin, deoiled soy lecithin also comes in various forms to meet specific application requirements:

1. Powdered Deoiled Soy Lecithin

This is the most widely available form commonly used in dry mixes, baked goods, and confectionery products.

2. Granular Deoiled Soy Lecithin

Granular lecithin offers improved flowability and dust control, making it ideal for high-volume production settings.

3. Liquid Deoiled Soy Lecithin

The liquid form of lecithin is readily dispersible in liquids and provides efficient emulsification. It's suitable for use in beverages, sauces, and dressings.

Key Differences Between Deoiled Soy Lecithin and Regular Soy Lecithin

Now, let’s take a look at some of the key differences between deoiled and regular soy lecithin:

1. Oil Content

Deoiled soy lecithin has a significantly lower oil content, less than 3%, compared to regular soy lecithin, which has between 19% to 25%. This translates to enhanced functionality.

2. Functionality

Due to its low oil content, deoiled soy lecithin excels in emulsification and dispersion, resulting in a more consistent and stable end product.

3. Flavour and Colour Profile

Once it goes through the oil removal process, lecithin’s flavour profile becomes neutral and lighter in colour. This minimises any impact on the final product's sensory characteristics.

4. Flowability

Deoiled soy lecithin also offers improved flowability, making it easier to handle and incorporate into food formulations, which leads to better production efficiency.

5. Clean Label Appeal

Its low oil content also aligns deoiled soy lecithin very well with clean-label trends due to its natural origin and minimal processing.

6. Cost

When compared with regular soy lecithin, the deoiled variant is slightly more expensive. But considering the benefits it offers, the higher cost is an ignorable sacrifice.

Choosing the Right Deoiled Soy Lecithin for Your Needs

The optimal deoiled soy lecithin for your application depends on several factors:

1. Desired Functionality

Consider the specific emulsifying, dispersing, or stabilising needs of your product.

2. Form

From powdered, granular, or liquid, choose the form that best suits your production processes and desired incorporation method.

3. Application

Different forms are better suited for specific applications, for example, powdered for baking, and liquid for beverages.

Conclusion

Deoiled soy lecithin is a valuable ingredient for food manufacturers seeking enhanced functionality, neutral flavour profiles, and improved flowability. The refining process concentrates the lecithin content, offering superior emulsifying and dispersing capabilities compared to regular soy lecithin. 

It also aligns well with clean-label trends due to its natural origin and minimal processing. Whether you're formulating baked goods, confectionery delights, or beverages, deoiled soy lecithin can be key in achieving optimal texture, stability, and overall product quality.

Ready to explore the potential of deoiled soy lecithin in your food formulations? Contact LECITEIN Limited today to discuss your specific needs and discover how our high-quality deoiled soy lecithin solutions can elevate your food products.

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