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By Devane Sharma

Why Use Emulsifiers and Stabilizers?

You have heard the phrase: oil and water don’t mix. When put together, oil rises to form a separate layer above the water. That is, until you add an emulsifier. Emulsifiers and their close chemical cousin, stabilizers, are the key to why you can easily mix a protein shake, why your ice cream doesn’t melt too quickly, and why your cake stays fluffy and moist.

Many food products use emulsifiers and stabilizers for better taste, texture, appearance, and shelf-life. Choosing the appropriate emulsifier and stabilizer for each food and beverage application will give your products the perfect mouthfeel and shelf stability. An incorrect choice may lead to inferior products, lost sales, and reformulations. Let’s learn more about emulsifiers and stabilizers and how they work in specific food applications.

How Emulsifiers Work

Emulsifiers help two chemically distinct substances – oil and water – to combine, by lowering the surface tension of the two, making it easier for tiny droplets to form. Each amphiphilic molecule has a hydrophilic, or “water-loving” part and a hydrophobic, or “oil-loving” part.

how emulsifiers work

How Stabilizers Work

While emulsifiers make mixing oil and water easier, they do not always produce a stable emulsion. If too many of the same kinds of droplets bump into each other, we are back where we started – a layer of oil separated from a layer of water. That’s where stabilizers come in. Stabilizers get in the way, so the droplets bump into the stabilizers, not each other.

Using Emulsifiers and Stabilizers in Food and Beverage Applications

Many common foods, such as plant-based foods, dairy-alternative beverages, confections, and baked goods, would not be the same without emulsifiers and stabilizers. At Musim Mas, we use plant-based products tailored to your specific food and beverage applications.

Emulsifiers in Cakes

Cakes generally have a 1:1 ratio of fat to water, so it’s easy to see how emulsifiers are needed. In low-fat baking, emulsifiers are even more critical. Cake emulsifiers such as Musim Mas’ MASEMUL® EF 2002 to 2005 range provide extra volume by preserving air bubbles as the cake bakes. While MASEMUL® EF 25 and EF 2001 provide a soft, tender texture by allowing the fat in the cake to be evenly dispersed. For both the batter and the cake, emulsifiers give greater stability, increasing shelf-life and helping you reduce costs. In addition, Musim Mas’ MASEMUL® EF 2005 is customized for application as a Non-Propylene Glycerol cake gel.

The role of emulsifiers is crucial for ready-to-blend premixes, which are on the rise as consumers demand more sophisticated home bakery products that also provide convenience. MASEMUL® EF 2006 is ideal for sponge, brownie, muffin, and cookie premixes.

Emulsifiers in Chocolate

Chocolate contains cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. Emulsifiers help bind the moisture in the ingredients to the cocoa butter. Without emulsifiers, more fat would be required to create a homogenous texture. The emulsifiers improve the viscosity, or the ability of the chocolate to flow when it is melted. This makes the chocolate thinner and easier to work with. Some consumers also avoid soy lecithin, the most used chocolate emulsifier. Musim Mas’ products, such as MASEMUL® PGPR 9092, can replace or supplement lecithin, which offers food manufacturers an opportunity to meet consumer demand and cut costs.

Emulsifiers in Ice Cream and Other Frozen Desserts

Ice cream is a complex combination of ice crystals, air, fat particles, and unfrozen water. Emulsifiers and stabilizers such as Musim Mas’ MASBLEN® 1201 are added during freezing and whipping to encourage fat globules to form and avoid forming large ice crystals. This results in a drier, smoother, and creamier texture, a slower rate of melting after serving, and better shape retention and stability for transport and storage. These benefits of emulsifiers also apply to other frozen dairy and non-dairy desserts such as sorbet, frozen mousse, and frozen yogurt.

Emulsifiers in Beverages

Like in ice cream, emulsifiers in beverages that mix water and oil stabilize and improve texture. Milk fats found in dairy products such as chocolate milk are surrounded by several layers of amphiphilic molecules (one part “water-loving, one part “oil-loving”). These are natural emulsifiers. Added emulsifiers enhance these natural ones.

Plant-based or dairy-free products generally need more support to emulsify. When emulsifiers and stabilizers such as Musim Mas’ MASBLEN® 5101 are added to low-fat and plant-based milk products like almond, soy, or rice milk, they mimic the natural dairy-based emulsifiers by increasing the milk’s viscosity and giving a familiar mouthfeel. Musim Mas products allow food manufacturers to provide vegan, plant-based beverages to health-conscious consumers.

Emulsifiers in Margarine

Margarine, a water-in-oil emulsion, comes in various forms, including those for frying, liquid, cake, low-fat spreads, and puff pastries margarine. Emulsifiers such as Musim Mas’ MASEMUL® EM series provide emulsion stability, texture, plasticity, and taste. In frying margarine, emulsifiers like MASEMUL® EM 3002 minimize spattering. In whipping margarine, emulsifiers like MASEMUL® EM 3001 help with aeration and creaming properties. For puff pastry margarine, emulsifiers like MASEMUL® EM 3005 help in improving lamination and flakiness; in low-fat spreads, emulsifiers including MASEMUL® EM 3004 provide stable emulsion without separation by enhancing its fresh keeping quality and superior texture.

Emulsifiers for Confections and Confectionery Fillings

Emulsifiers are an essential tool for making confections. They provide stability and help make processing easier, and provide the sensory qualities that consumers demand. In confections, emulsifiers give the perfect amount of crystallization, control viscosity, disperse fat particles, reduce stickiness, and control oil migration. This includes Musim Mas’ MASEMUL ® EC 5401 range which is ideal for wafer fillings which can reduce the slipping of the wafer sheets and compound chocolate.

Emulsifiers in Plant-Based Whipped Cream

Consumer demand for plant-based and vegan products has been growing. Plant-based whipped cream is an oil-in-water emulsion that is an excellent alternative to high-fat whipped cream. As with plant-based beverages and desserts, emulsifiers are necessary to meet the customer’s desires for whippability, mouthfeel, texture, shelf stability, and taste. Using emulsifiers and stabilizers such as MASBLEN® 6151 to create plant-based whipped cream provides a tasty alternative and helps manufacturers reduce costs.

Keeping up with Food Trends

Consumers across the globe are demanding better sensory experiences, such as glossy icings, fluffy cakes, and smooth beverages. Using emulsifiers and stabilizers in your food applications will meet consumers’ sensory requirements.

The growing demand for plant-based products poses both a challenge and an opportunity for food manufacturers. Musim Mas can help you meet this demand. Our MASEMUL® range of emulsifiers and MASBLEN® emulsifier-stabilizer blends can improve the palatability and shelf stability of plant-based products. Our functional blends also met a wide variety of certification standards, including EU and FDA compliance, Halal, Kosher, trans-fat-free, non-allergenic, and Project Verified non-GMO.

Sustainability is also at the heart of Musim Mas’ efforts. Musim Mas has been part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2004 and was the first palm oil major to be verified by the more stringent standards of the Palm Oil Innovation Group in 2019.