Alpha-cyclodextrin is a versatile, stabilizing emulsifier.

It’s time that you met the alternative emulsifier alpha-cyclodextrin. It’s a water-soluble, sugar ring molecule, made from starch. It has a hydrophilic surface and hydrophobic center hole. It’s this unique shape that gives it the ability of complexing nonpolar substances. Just picture a kid using a life saver in the pool: their legs would be the oil-loving part of the molecule and their head would be the water-loving part. This is what this new emulsifier looks like.

What functions does alpha-cyclodextrin have?

This is a versatile, stabilizing emulsifier. A few uses include:

  • Stabilizing oil-in-water emulsions
  • Egg free or gluten-free baking
  • Controlling the solubility and dispersibility of un-mixable liquids
  • Masking odors and unwanted flavors
  • Stabilizing and protecting compounds from light, heat and oxidation
  • Encapsulation of oils, probiotics, food colors and flavors
  • Entrapment of cholesterol

The main function of alpha-cyclodextrin in food products is the stabilization of emulsions as an alternative to common emulsifiers. It can act as surfactants in food, allowing water-and-fat dispersions to be evenly mixed.

If using it in:

Formulations containing amylase: alpha-amylase can hydrolyze α-1,4-glycosidic bonds of  alpha-cyclodextrin. Recipes that contain amylase for dough conditioning and crumb softening could impact the function of alpha-cyclodextrin.

Formulations rich in acids: a proper balance should be established between the total titratable acidity (TTA) and alpha-cyclodextrin to avoid hydrolysis. As a result, the cyclodextrin’s functionality could be hurt.