Erythritol is a low-calorie keto sweetener commonly used to sweeten beverages, yogurts, custards, and baked goods. It has a sweetening potency is around 60% that of sucrose1
Commercially available as a crystalline white powder, erythritol is a sugar alcohol that has a similar flavor profile to sucrose.
It provides a cooling effect and a slight acidic taste with no lingering aftertaste.1
Erythritol was discovered accidentally by Cerestar Company while studying the possibility of producing polyols via the fermentation route. Following regulatory approval, commercial production started in 1993 for the Japanese market. Today, it is available worldwide and is approved for consumption in several countries.2
Erythritol is used as an alternative sweetener in several food products. It is recognized as a bulk sweetener which provides volume and texture. Erythritol does not dissolve as readily as sucrose and does not caramelize when heated.2
Erythritol is no calorie sweetener, has non-cariogenic properties and doesn’t raise insulin levels. Similar to other polyols, erythritol if consumed in excess may cause bloating.2
Erythritol is commercially manufactured through the following process:1
Hydrolysis reaction: starch is hydrolyzed into glucose and other carbohydrates by hydrolytic enzymes.
Fermentation: osmophilic yeast is added to the solution to ferment glucose to a mixture of erythritol and other polyols, such as glycerol and ribitol.
Filtration: microorganisms are separated from the fermentation broth.
Purification: erythritol is separated from glycerol and ribitol present in small amounts.
Concentration, drying and crystallization: erythritol solution is concentrated and further crystallized to produce erythritol powder with a 99.5% purity.
Other less used production methods include reduction of meso-tartrate or oxidation of 4,5 – O – ethylidene D-glucose.1
Erythritol is commonly used in low calorie food products such as:1
Erythritol generally provides a different melting profile than sucrose, and produces a more compact dough and softer final products. It doesn’t participate in browning Maillard reaction, and thus produces lighter colored baked goods.2
Commonly used in combination with maltitol to improve sweetness and humectancy. So, it improves shelf-life and baking stability, providing a finer crumb structure and softer end product.1
According to the FDA, erythritol can be safely added to food products as an all-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer.3
In the EU, erythritol (E 968) is safe to be added to food products. 4
O’Brien-Nabors, L. Alternative Sweeteners, Fourth Edition, Revised and Expanded. Switzerland, Taylor & Francis, 2012.
Mitchell, H. Sweeteners and sugar alternatives in food technology. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.