New technique to improve the quality and presentation of panela*
Spray drying is the name of the technology a Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) researcher is using to obtain instant powdered panela, which preserves its aroma and flavor.Bogotá D. C., 27 de mayo de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
The technique consists of simultaneous transference of mass and heat. Initially a liquid current, in this particular case, panela sugarcane honey turns into a powder by using air at a temperature which prevents the material to become damaged, therefore preserving its properties.
Currently many products are obtained using this technology, such as dehydrated fruit, powdered milk and detergents. However they use additives such as maltodextrins which change the taste, aroma and even the color of products.
This technology carried out by UNal Chemical Engineer and M.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering and Chemical Engineering doctoral candidate Laura Marcela Palacios, hopes to boost the panela industry so it can offer products with greater added value and look for new markets by using technologies of great impact.
For the project Palacios is looking for a way to obtain a product in optimal conditions using an appropriate additive which will not impact the quality conditions of panela.
“This technique is a big challenge as these substances have great low molecular weight sugar content such as fructose and glucose which produce a caramelizing effect that make them sticky and difficult for the drying process. Our work is to optimize it to obtain a product which is stable for the environment and which has the conditions of panela we traditionally have come to know,” said Palacio.
The idea behind the project is to diversify the offer and tender a product with different morphology which will enable offering other flavors and better presentation to the final consumer.
To use this technique producers will have to add a new step to their traditional process, and add a new machine to turn the product into a powder. Thanks to this spray drying, panela will be more stable and have greater dissolution and better storage conditions.
“We need to benefit that in international markets such as Europe, panela is very well perceived as it is a natural substitute for sugar. We are working to improve the presentation and offer a product more environmentally stable which will dissolve in cold or hot media,” said Palacio.
Currently the project is being presented to a Colombian Administrative Department for Science Technology and Innovation (Colciencias, for its Spanish acronym) summons to design and build a prototype and validate the work developed at the laboratory level.
UNal has been working for 20 years in improving panel processes and products as it is a very important product in Colombia. This spray drying process has been evaluated at UNal-Medellín with good results; however they used sugarcane juices and also used maltodextrins which affected the sensorial aspect of the product.
“This is the basis to obtain, not only a panela product but to open the doors to an ample portfolio of products with greater added value, apart from guaranteeing the product quality conditions and features,” said Palacios.
The research project is supported by a research group in chemical and biochemical process of the Faculty of Engineering and the Natural Aroma and Color Additives Research Group (GANAC, for its Spanish acronym). Additionally it has funding from an internal summons of the UNal-Bogotá Research Directorate.
*Panela is unrefined whole cane sugar, in solid form.(Por: Fin/VC/MLA/APBL