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BLOG: Keeping Drinkable Yogurts Natural with Citrus Fiber

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Blueberry Drinkable Yogurt SmoothieNatural food trends drive the need to replace ingredients like starches, pectin and/or gums within yogurt-based products. Citri-Fi® natural citrus fiber benefits from the process by becoming more functional at very low usage levels to provide the desired texture and mouthfeel in drinkable yogurts.

Author: Nesha Zalesny (Technical Sales Manager)

Drinkable Yogurt Market

Drinkable yogurts have been on the market for years. However, recently in the U.S. markets, these dairy products experienced a spike in popularity. Manufacturers use drinkable yogurts as a novel vehicle to deliver healthy ingredients such as probiotics and protein. Kefir, which is a slightly fizzy drinkable yogurt, experienced a resurgence in popularity.  There are two different forms of drinkable yogurts – live active cultured (LAC) yogurt and alternatively, UHT treated drinkable yogurt for shelf stability. This article focuses on (LAC) style drinkable yogurts.

In many countries, drinkable yogurt falls under the yogurt umbrella. As a result, this type of yogurt has a standard of identity. Depending on the country, yogurt cannot contain stabilizers. If this is the case, manufacturers need to work closely with their culture house to develop yogurt cultures that consistently resist sedimentation and graininess.

Clean Label Functional Fiber Alternative

In countries where stabilization is allowed, high methoxyl (HM) pectin is the stabilizer of choice.  Many U.S. manufacturers also add corn starch, both modified and unmodified, and/or locust bean gum for mouthfeel and fat replacement.  Pectin is used at about 0.6% with starches at 1-2% and locust bean gum at 0.1%.  Pectin on its own tends to not have enough mouthfeel, so starches or locust bean gum are mostly used to enhance the texture. Depending on the geographic region, these types of ingredients have fallen out of favor due to clean label and/or sustainability trends. Some manufacturers are reducing the number of ingredients in yogurts to keep declarations simple and transparent. However, there are clean label alternatives available.

Citri-Fi natural citrus fiber is made from the fibrous material of the citrus fruit after it has been juiced.  It is washed with water, most of which is recycled back to the juicer, run through a physical process, dried and milled.  It is approximately 80% fiber, half of which is soluble, and the rest is insoluble.  The soluble fiber is mostly HM pectin.  Because of this, Citri-Fi is uniquely able to be used to replace or supplement the traditional pectin system for additional mouthfeel.  The pectin that is latent to Citri-Fi stabilizes the protein and the insoluble cellulose and hemicellulose to add mouthfeel. For drinkable yogurts, Citri-Fi 100FG or Citri-Fi 100M40 can be used at use levels of 0.1-0.3%. Use levels will be somewhat dependent on protein levels and desired finished mouthfeel.

Processing Perks using Citrus Fiber

Generally, the gum system is incorporated into the milk prior to culturing.  The stabilizing blend is mixed in with any other dry ingredients and then the milk is homogenized, pasteurized and cultured.  There is a company that recommends creating a pasteurized HM pectin solution which is blended with cultured yogurt and then homogenized and packed off.  This process homogenizes the yogurt twice which can be problematic for traditionally set up dairies. Moreover, some strains of bacteria and stabilizers would not survive the high pressure and high shear of this type of system.

Incorporating Citri-Fi is similar to the pectin system.  Citri-Fi is blended with any other dry ingredients and then added to the milk.  The milk is pasteurized, homogenized, cultured, flavored and packed off.  Homogenization shear is Citri-Fi’s friend. High pressure homogenization opens the citrus fiber further to provide additional functionality. As a result, this natural ingredient is highly functional at low usage levels. Its unique structure – the soluble and insoluble fiber that form the backbone of the particle – gives its exceptional functionality. Citri-Fi can be used to replace pectin in drinkable yogurts for protein stabilization. It can also be added in addition to yogurt to replace modified starches or locust bean gum for mouthfeel.

Other Citri-Fi Citrus Fiber Benefits

Pectin is a highly refined product that is not sustainably produced.  It uses a lot of water and is refined with strong acids and bases that strip the soluble fiber from the insoluble fiber. Citri-Fi is a sustainably sourced functional fiber that can be used in a wide variety of acidified dairy and non-dairy applications.

Typically, the starch used in these beverages is modified corn starch.  It is difficult to source non-GMO and label friendly starches that stand up to the processing conditions (e.g. heat, shear and pH) of yogurt production.  Citri-Fi is non-GMO, clean label and is labeled as citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour. This natural ingredient has no e-number or chemical sounding names on the label nor is it standardized with maltodextrin or sugar. In sugar reduced yogurt applications, Citri-Fi contributes less than half the calories per gram of sugar unlike starches.

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