Lower production capacity is one effect of slower crystallization. Another is that, due to the slower crystallization speed
of alternative fats, crystallization continues to develop for
longer than the usual 24 or so hours during pre-storage. This
changes the structure of the product over an extended period
of time, so you’re likely to end up with a more brittle product.
Because storage has a much greater effect on the final product,
storage temperature variations introduce further sensitivity to
Consequently, pre-storage, which was rarely the focus of
a margarine production process in the good old trans-fat days,
suddenly takes on new significance with respect to product
quality. Now, manufacturers must focus on controlling pre-storage during the first 5 to 7 days following production, making pre-storage part of the overall production process. For
example, an attempt might be made to reduce brittleness and
ensure consistency by varying pre-storage temperatures from,
say, 21 oC for the first five days then reducing it to 16 oC thereafter. One implication for many manufacturers is the need to
invest in pre-storage facilities that can enable the required
Slower crystallization, therefore, is a manufacturer’s nightmare, imposing both immediate limitations on total production capacity and gradually reducing capacity during production
days due to crystallization buildup on chiller shafts. Non-hydrogenated products will have a slower crystallization speed, and
interestified products have a tendency to become overworked
and very soft.
With widespread attention on the ill effects of trans fats, US
food manufacturers and their European counterparts now need
to come up with trans-fat-free recipes that give margarine’s
batch-by-batch quality the best possible chance of success.
According to Palsgaard’s applied research and extensive
experience in the European market, that particular “something”
is most likely to be carefully concocted combinations of crystallizers and emulsifiers.
Crystallizers can do much to ease the production process.
However, they will not have significant influence on the longer-term storage phase, during which polymorph structure will
make for a firmer margarine over time. This is something that
manufacturers must give special attention to when developing
tRANs-FREE pRODUctION stRAtEgIEs
To understand why crystallizers are the toolbox of choice for
food manufacturers facing the trans-fat ban, we first needed to
gain a better understanding of crystallization processes in mar-
garine oils and fats. We were particularly keen to find out how
various process parameters affected the speed and nature of
crystallization. Equipped with this knowledge, we could then
properly examine the role played by emulsifiers in relation to
crystallization, and make recommendations to margarine man-
ufacturers based on our findings. We set the bar high: Our tests
would be conducted with one of the most difficult beasts in the
business—puff pastry margarine.
WHAt AFFEcts cRystAllIZAtION IN
MARgARINE AND sHORtENINg?
When chilling begins in the margarine production process,
there are initially no crystals. Then the first crystals appear,
creating a “seat” for more to build upon, finally arriving at a
much firmer mass. This firmness needs to be broken down
somewhat, restoring plasticity.
To tackle this problem, we used one of our pilot plants to
start the seating earlier in the process. This allowed the product to spend more time in the machine to reduce post-crystal-lization time. Longer time in the equipment, however, resulted
in greater effect from the pin machine and the following tube
chillers, resulting in a quite different product.
In our trials, we compared hydrogenated, interesterified,
and non-hydrogenated fat in puff pastry margarine. Hydrogenated fat, as might be expected, performed best, crystallizing