Effect of mechanical interaction on the hydration of mixed soy protein and gluten gels

Cornet, S.H.V.; Goot, A.J. van der; Sman, R.G.M. van der


Mixed gels of plant proteins are being investigated for use as meat analogues. Juiciness is an important characteristic for the acceptability of meat analogues. The juiciness is assumed to be governed by the hydration properties, or water holding capacity, of the gel (WHC). We analysed the WHC of single-phase gels of respectively soy protein and gluten by applying Flory-Rehner theory. This enabled us to describe the WHC of more the complex mixed gels. The WHC of mixed soy protein - gluten gels is shown not to be a linear combination of their constituents. At high volume fractions, soy forms a continuous network and swells similarly to pure soy without being hindered by gluten. However, increasing gluten content leads to a gradual decrease in soy swelling. This is due to the mechanical interaction between soy and gluten. We propose that gluten-rich gels have a continuous gluten network that entraps soy and hinders its swelling. The elastic moduli of the gluten network were extracted from WHC data, and are in reasonable agreement with experimentally determined moduli. A better understanding of the effect of mixed gel composition on WHC is valuable for the development of the next generation meat analogues.