Oleogels as heat-resistant barrier layer

Oleogels as heat-resistant barrier layer

Researchers have developed a bio-based coating that protects against moisture and heat while being edible, allowing its use in food.

Die Crumbsticks haben einen essbaren „Knochen“ aus einer kross gebackenen Brotstange.
Crumbsticks have an edible "bone" made from a crusty baked breadstick.

From bakery snacks to prepared frozen vegetables, many foods are so-called multicomponent systems and consist of a dry layer and a moist or creamy layer. One challenge in the production and storage of such foods is to prevent the dry layer from becoming moist. Researchers at the University of Hohenheim have now developed a biobased barrier layer made of oleogels for this purpose. The oleogel consists of vegetable oils and ethyl cellulose and can thus be used in the food sector.

Barrier layer made of oleogels: mechanically resilient and edible

Oleogels are fats structured by certain gelling agents, some of which are already used in the food sector. The novel bio-protective layer also meets high requirements that food packaging in particular must fulfill: it is impermeable to water, mechanically resilient, compostable and even suitable for consumption. What is new, however, is that these oleogels are now also heat-resistant and ensure that dry and moist components of the food are retained even during baking or deep-frying.

Production with common production processes

Another advantage is that common production processes - especially from packaging and polymer technology - can be used to manufacture the oleogels. An oleogel layer can be applied by glazing, laminating, coating or spraying. It can further be adapted as desired by changing the composition or adding additives - such as flavorings or colorants.

The developers were able to prove that the coating works using the example of crumb sticks. As part of a product development competition, chicken drumsticks were created with an edible bone made from a crispy baked breadstick. The coating prevented the two components from softening. According to the researchers, the novel coating systems can be used not only in the food sector. The biobased oleogels could also be used to separate the components in the production of animal feed.

Bio-material patent pending

The innovative biomaterial developed by the Hohenheim researchers has now been registered for patent with the support of Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH.