Physical stability of food emulsions

Design of food emulsions, such as pesto, seems very straight-forward since everyone can make them in a kitchen setting. But keeping such emulsions stable for longer time as would need to be achieved in industrial food products, is far from trivial. This project aims to identify both ingredients, and process conditions that lead to stable products. We do this, we use microfluidic tools that allow us to investigate how fast components are able to stabilise interfaces (see also topic 2.3), and other microscopic and analysis techniques.

We will investigate the structure of pesto, the properties of the pesto and the constituent ingredients, and interplay between particles and molecules as occurs at the interface. It is expected that pesto is stabilised through a combination of proteins and particles, although this would still need to be confirmed. 

It is expected that in the stable products, emulsion droplets will be present that are adequately stabilized (see image on the right that is taken in another project using fluorescent whey protein gel particles stabilizing red oil droplets). We will use various techniques to visualise the interface to thus identify those conditions that lead to stable pesto. We may even use TEM to visualize the particles as they are nesting in the interface.

Furthermore, we will investigate the stability of the pesto product under temperatures as they occur during production and storage, thus identifying conditions under which the product retains its quality. The insights thus obtained will be used to design also other pesto formulations, and predict their behaviour beforehand.