New sour whey alternative to hydrocolloids

A research team from the Technical University of Dresden has embarked on a promising path with sour whey. As part of a joint industrial research (IGF) project, the scientists want to develop a product based on sour whey, which can be used to improve the texture and structure of milk products – as an alternative to non-dairy hydrocolloids such as locust bean gum or starch.

Today products with added fruit or herbs, such as fruit yogurt or cream cheese with herbs, can hardly be produced in a high product quality without the addition of non-dairy stabilisers. The aim of the research project is to change this. Efforts have been made for some time to use more sour whey for value-adding purposes. This is, because to make quark and cheese, milk is mixed with either rennet or lactic acid bacteria and if the latter are used, acid whey is produced as a by-product – around four million tons are produced every year. Due to its high health value, this whey is partly processed into whey products, but so far mainly used in animal nutrition.

If acid whey is treated with lactic acid bacteria after neutralisation, these form so-called extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) during acidification. These have a high water-binding capacity and thus act as a natural stabiliser.

As part of the research, an exopolysaccharide-functionalised concentrate based on sour whey is currently being developed.

The EPS concentrate is expected to be suitable for a wide range of milk products with low to high protein contents and can be marketed both directly in the production of milk products and after drying as a microbiologically stable semi-finished product.

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