Studies conducted by the VTT Technical Research Centre in Espoo have shown that xylan, fibrillated cellulose and lignin offer advantages over traditionally-used ingredients.
VTT believes these wood-derived ingredients can benefit the manufacture of yogurt, baked goods and meat products.
Xylan, a hemicellulose extracted from birch pulp, can be used as a texture enhancer in yogurt, the centre claims.
Compared with conventional manufacturing techniques, VTT’s studies show that xylan improves the smoothness of yogurt.
The texture is also more stable, as no separation of water from the yogurt gel was observed in the tests.
Fibrillated cellulose, which is produced by wet-grinding cellulose fibres, is particularly useful for its ability to bind water at low concentration and form a web-like gel.
It can be used as a thickening and stabilising agent in fermented dairy products, including yogurt.
Free bile acids
VTT also observed how fibrillated cellulose can bind free bile acids, which has a potential cholesterol-lowering effect.
As technology develops, the research centre says increasingly sophisticated ingredients will be extracted from wood, and even lignin could be a candidate for a new food additive.
When tested, lignin gave muffins a fluffier texture and proved to be a surprisingly efficient substitute for whole eggs and egg yolks. It also functioned as an emulsifier in mayonnaise and supported juiciness in a meat product.