Dextrin – sugar reduction in practice

Dextrin is a fibre that provides filling without contributing taste or viscosity. That makes it a perfect candidate for sugar reduction. On top of that, its stable, robust and easy to work with. This is an ingredient worth trying out.

20 May 2020 •

Sugar reduc­tion is excit­ing but com­plex work. In an arti­cle series, we will look at some ingre­di­ents that can be used to reduce sug­ar in food. How can the ingre­di­ents be used, and what should be con­sid­ered? These are ques­tions we will answer! In this arti­cle, we take a clos­er look at dex­trin.

What is dextrin?

It is not easy to explain what dex­trin real­ly is, as it is a catch-all for short­er chains of glucose.

The ori­gin of all forms of dex­trin is starch from wheat, pota­toes, corn, rice, cas­sa­va and oth­er starchy crops. When the starch is bro­ken up, for exam­ple dur­ing bak­ing, it breaks down into sin­gle glu­cose mol­e­cules, chains with two glu­cose moi­eties (mal­tose) and short­er chains with three or more glu­cose moi­eties (mal­todex­trin). In some process­es, these are re-com­bined with var­i­ous gly­co­side bonds into tree-like struc­tures. These re-com­bined car­bo­hy­drates are called dextrin.

Owing to the branch­ing, dex­trins are less digestible. By con­trol­ling the gly­co­side bonds between the branch­es, it is pos­si­ble to pro­duce dex­trin that doesn’t break up at all in our diges­tion sys­tem. They are called resis­tant dex­trin and are dietary fibres.

When we talk about dex­trin in sug­ar reduc­tion, it is resis­tant dex­trin we refer to.

Read more about dex­trin, branch­ing and glu­co­side bonds in the arti­cle Dextrin – from seed to Eureba.

Yummy for the gut

Dextrin has sev­er­al health benefits.

As all nutri­tion fibres, it is nei­ther digest­ed nor absorbed in the human small intes­tine. Thus, it doesn’t affect the blood sug­ar level.

Dextrin pass­es the diges­tive sys­tem unaf­fect­ed to the large intes­tine, where it is pre­bi­ot­ic for the gut bacterias.

The bac­te­ria in the colon fer­ment the fibres and pro­duce short-chain fat­ty acids. That gives a sus­tained ener­gy release. The amount of ener­gy is only 1,7 kcal per gram. Compared to 4 kcal per gram of sug­ar, that is almost 60% few­er calories.

Also, dex­trin doesn’t con­tribute to tooth decay.

Resistant and stable

Dextrin also has many desir­able func­tion­al properties.

It has a neu­tral taste with no sweet­ness. Thus, it doesn’t affect the taste of the end prod­uct. Nor does it change the colour of the product.

Dextrin has good sol­u­bil­i­ty. It dis­solves quick­ly even at low tem­per­a­ture. And it is entire­ly trans­par­ent when dissolved.

Unlike most sol­u­ble fibres, dex­trin doesn’t add viscosity.

Dextrin is robust and sta­ble. You can freeze, thaw and heat up dex­trin with­out affect­ing it. It is also resis­tant to both low and high pH-values.

It has a long shelf life and process sta­bil­i­ty. That is, if shape, tex­ture or con­sis­ten­cy decays, it is not because of the dextrin.

A mushy mess

With so many good qual­i­ties, one can be led to believe that the best sub­sti­tute for sug­ar is dex­trin and a dash of a high-inten­si­ty sweet­en­er (e.g. ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides). Don’t do that. Your result will be mediocre at best.

Let’s assume you bake a sponge cake with 300 gram of sug­ar replaced with 299 gram of dex­trin and 1 gram of high-inten­si­ty sweet­en­er. It will not rise and get that airy soft­ness you expect. On the con­trary. The sponge cake would col­lapse and just be a mushy mess.

There is anoth­er rea­son why you can’t replace sug­ar with only dex­trin. That would exceed the rec­om­mend­ed intake of fibres, with stom­ach issues as a result.

Thus, dex­trin needs the com­pa­ny of oth­er ingredients.

Experiment and succeed

To suc­ceed with the sug­ar reduced sponge cake, you must com­ple­ment dex­trin with oth­er ingre­di­ents. What you need and in what pro­por­tions isn’t pos­si­ble to tell. You must exper­i­ment and test until you are hap­py with the result. There are no short­cuts to sug­ar reduc­tion; dif­fer­ent appli­ca­tions require dif­fer­ent solutions.

The voice of the expert

What do you think of dextrin?

– It’s a great ingre­di­ent. It dis­solves quick­ly, is sta­ble to both heat and dif­fer­ent pH val­ues and can be processed in dif­fer­ent ways. This makes dex­trin a per­fect fit in both sug­ar reduc­tion and fat-reduced recipes.

What about the taste and sweetness of using dextrin?

– Our research shows that up to 30 per cent of the sug­ar in a recipe can be replaced with dex­trin with­out affect­ing con­sis­ten­cy or taste, except that the sweet­ness need help of a high-inten­si­ty sweetener.

Srdjan’s three tips

Here are Srdjan Solaja’s three tips for those who want to get start­ed mak­ing sug­ar reduc­tion with dextrin.

  1. Dextrin will enchant you with its neu­tral taste. You will notice how well dex­trin fits in sev­er­al dif­fer­ent appli­ca­tions because the nat­ur­al flavours are retained.
  2. If you use dex­trin in bak­ing, it will not change the dough’s prop­er­ties, and your pas­try will feel fresh for a long time.
  3. Dextrin is not sweet, so you need to use high-inten­si­ty sweet­en­ers or keep some of the sug­ar in the recipe to get the sweetness.

A helping hand

If you want help reduc­ing sug­ar in your prod­uct, we can help you. Do not hes­i­tate to con­tact us.

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