This session will address several emerging strategies for structuring edible vegetable oils as alternatives to animal-derived fats and tropical oils.
Plant-based foods that mimic the eating experience of traditional animal-derived products have become increasingly popular in recent years, and the rapid expansion of product offerings has largely been driven by innovations in manipulating the functional properties of plant proteins. However, one of the major bottlenecks in accurately mimicking the organoleptic experiences of animal-derived foods is replicating the techno-functional properties of fats. While efforts to maintain clean labels have made tropical oils the predominant source for structured lipids, an emerging alternative approach which has gained increasing interest is the development of oleogels; liquid vegetable oils structured using alternative structuring agents, such as plant-derived waxes, proteins, polysaccharides, or combinations thereof. This talk will provide an overview of several approaches which can been used to produce oleogels, with a particular focus on ethylcellulose, the only polymer oleogelator able to be directly dispersed in edible oils. We will discuss the properties of these oleogels, and strategies we have identified to tailor the functional properties of these structured lipid systems. These include processing conditions, the addition of suitable surfactants, or introducing a secondary crystalline gel network capable of promoting a synergistic enhancement in gelation behavior. A brief overview of indirect foam- and emulsion-templating methods which can be used to form oleogels with proteins and polysaccharides will also be introduced. Examples of oleogels used in food products will also be described, which demonstrate their potential for broader adaptation in the food industry. Oleogelation thus provides a promising approach to replace animal-derived fats and tropical oils using health-promoting liquid vegetable oils, while maintaining the critical sensory and functional properties needed to satisfy both food manufactures and consumers.
Pre-Tenured Faculty or Recent PhD Graduate