Palm Oil in Food Applications

Palm oil is versatile. There is no disputing the fact. About 90% of the world’s palm oil production is used as food. The physio-chemical properties of palm oil and its fractions are readily adaptable as versatile components in most of today’s fat-based food formulations required by the food industry. As such, it has been mandated that the nutritional properties of palm oil, as well as its fractions, be adequately demonstrated. The result? A truly malleable product which is in so many words, a treasure.



Palm olein has become a major household cooking and frying oil. It has excellent oxidative and frying stability due to its inherent composition, and contains only trace amounts of linolenic acid. The presence of natural Vitamin E mainly as the tocotrienols also confers natural antioxidant stability to the oil. It is bland, and remains stable during high-temperature frying, allowing your foods to retain original flavour while reducing gum formation on your kitchen walls.



When combined with palm stearin, palm oil makes an excellent blend for the manufacture of shortenings. Currently, many manufacturers are able to incorporate up to 80% of palm oil and its fractions into shortening formulations. Palm based shortenings are superior, as they bear the advantage of B’ crystallisation, which is required for optimum creaming and baking performance. The high melting triglycerides in palm stearin also help to improve the plasticity of the shortening, thus ensuring excellence in quality for the preparation of pies, tarts and curry puffs, as well as softer breads. Palm-based shortening has also been utilised for meat products like sausages, frankfurters and patties, where they are used to replace beef and chicken fat, thus reducing the overall cholestrol content.



Margarine is defined as liquid or plastic emulsion comprising not less than 80% fat, not more than 16% water, and fortified with Vitamin A. Good physical properties required for quality margarine include emulsion stability without oil separation, no brittleness, good spread ability despite being firm, and a clean, smooth melt in the mouth. These properties are related to the proportion of solid and liquid fat in the product at a given temperature. Palm oil and its fractions are able to meet many of these characteristics, either on their own, or when blended with other oils. When palm-based puff-pastry margarines are used, the plasticity and consistency of the dough has been shown to be significantly improved.



Both palm oil and palm kernel oil have specific triglyceride species that are suitable for use as cocoa butter extenders (CBE) and cocoa butter substitutes (CBS). Cocoa butter extenders are fully compatible with the more expensive cocoa butter, and is used extensively to produce chocolates. Cocoa butter substitutes are divided into lauric (from palm kernel oil) and non-lauric (from palm oil) varieties. Excellent cocoa butter substitutes can be made from palm kernel stearin, which is usually used as a coating chocolate and in the manufacturing of ice cream, toffee and other confectionary products. Non-lauric cocoa butter substitutes are used in compound coating for biscuits, chocolate-flavoured baking chips and other enrobed confectionary products.



Vegetable ghee is produced with a range of fat blends, including a very high level of hydrogenated fats containing trans fatty acids. Current practices are aimed at reducing trans fat content in these products, and palm oil is the preferred ingredient. It is possible to produce vegetable ghee using only palm oil. These products are then generally shown to have considerably lower levels of trans fatty acids.



A great deal of progress has been made in the field of non-dairy products. Palm oil and palm kernel oil has replaced the fat content found in dairy in the production of dairy alternatives. These are particularly useful in the production of ice cream, liquid coffee whitener, sweetened condensed milk, cheese, and even yogurts.

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Advancing food science, culinary & agrotechnology | MY • SG

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