PROBLEM: How can bakers eliminate partially hydrogenated vegetable oil without reformulating their products and at no extra cost?
SOLUTION: Naturally solid palm oil blends can be used as a 1-1 substitute for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in most cases, and cost about the same as soybean oil.
Palm oil is pressed from the fruit of the oil palm and is naturally solid at room temperature without the use of any chemical processes. It contains an equal balance of unsaturated and saturated fats and does not contain any trans fat. The kind of saturated fats found in palm oil cause the formation of small fat crystals, which result in a very smooth texture. This natural solid texture is similar to that of butter and many kinds of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The small crystals are ideal for entrapping and stabilizing small air bubbles, which is an essential part of the creaming step in most baked products.
Although palm oil may be used directly in many applications, some products demand fats with very specialized characteristics. For example, pastry fats are rolled out into thin layers of dough and folded many times. A donut frying fat should not be too oily, or it will dissolve chocolate or sugar coatings during storage. Many heavy-duty frying oils are liquid. Palm oil is highly versatile and can satisfy all of these needs using a physical process called fractionation. Several components of palm oil are produced by fractionation and can be blended in different proportions to create a solution for every baking problem. Blended products are commercially marketed by companies, such as Loders Croklaan and others, and are available throughout the United States.
For bakers who are concerned about the saturated fat content of their products but want to retain flavor and texture, blends of palm oil and vegetable oils are the answer. While the saturated fat content of palm oil is only 50 percent, even lower levels can be achieved by blending with oils, such as canola and soybean. A shortening with only 25 percent saturates can be made in this way with moderate functionality and relatively high cost. A palm/canola oil blend with 35 percent saturates has excellent performance in a wide range of products and is comparatively cost effective.
Saturated fats in general may not be as unhealthy as they were once made out to be. Recent scientific studies revealed that diets high in saturated fat and low in carbohydrate consistently give a healthier blood cholesterol profile than low fat diets. A possible reason is the discovery that saturated fats increase blood levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) more than any other major food ingredient.
Palm oil is a cost effective, functional and healthy alternative to partially hydrogenated oils and is an essential component for eliminating trans fat in baked products.
Palm oil and palm oil blends provide a cost effective, trans fat-free replacement for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.