lecithin, clean label, emulsifier, egg, emulsifier alternative

There are a lot of emulsifiers out there. All have their different strengths and shortcomings. But one our industry needs now is a clean label one—lecithin. It’s one of the most common emulsifiers used in the baking industry and it’s a versatile one.

Your source matters

Lecithin is found naturally in many foods, with the most common sources being eggs and soybeans. This is why it works for clean label. However, concern of GMOs has made many bakers search for alternative sources. Plant-based lecithin, such as sunflowers, is a popular choice.

However, there are a number of other natural sources, including: brain tissues, beef liver, steak, peanuts, avocado, cauliflower, oranges, corn and sunflower oils (mixture of natural lips, phospholipids, and vegetable oil), milk, and whole grains.

A few lecithin facts:

  • It is optimal at a pH level over 4.0.
  • It’s HLB Level is between 8 and 10.
  • It will disperse best in warm or room temperature liquid.
  • For mixing ratios, a concentration of around 2% (dry flour weight) is best for optimal baked goods texture. When creating airs or froths, use a concentration between 0.2 to 1.0%.
  • Lecithin will often be clumpy when first added to the recipe, so mixing is important.

How is it made?

Commercial lecithin is made from a mixture of phosphatides of choline, ethanolamine and inositol, along with small amounts of other lipids.  There are bleached varieties  available. It can be commercially bought in powder or liquid form. Standard soybean lecithin usually comes in a translucent fluid, with a viscosity of 100s-1  or 10 poise max.