Alpha-cyclodextrin is a versatile, stabilizing emulsifier.

It’s time that you met the alternative emulsifier alpha-cyclodextrin. This water-soluble sugar ring molecule is made from starch. Due to its shape, it has a hydrophilic surface and hydrophobic center hole. It’s this unique shape that gives it the ability of complexing nonpolar substances.

Emulsifiers are an essential ingredient—the glue that keeps many products together. By stabilizing non-homogeneous mixes, like water and oil, they help with texture, shelf life, dough strengthening and more. However, the industry is on the search for natural emulsifier solutions. Alternatives typically come in the form of plant protein, hydrocolloids or enzymes.

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.

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