Effects of composition on fat rheology and crystallisation

Bell A., Gordon M.H., Jirasubkunakorn W., Smith K.W., Effects of composition on fat rheology and crystallisation, Food Chemistry, 2007, 101(2), 799–805

The crystallisation behaviour of three fat blends, comprising a commercial shortening, a blend of fats with a very low trans fatty acid content (“low-trans”) and a blend including hardened rapeseed oil with a relatively high trans fatty acid content (“high-trans”) was studied. Molten fats were lowered to a temperature of 31 °C and stirred for 0, 15, 30, 45 and 60 min. Samples were removed and their rheological properties studied, using a controlled stress rheometer, employing a frequency sweep procedure. Effects of the progressive crystallisation at 31 °C on the melting profile of fat samples removed from the stirred vessel and solidified at −20 °C were also studied by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC).

The rheological profiles obtained suggested that all of the fats studied had weak viscoelastic “liquid” structures when melted, but these changed to structures perceived by the rheometer as weak viscoelastic “gels” in the early stages of crystallisation (G′ (storage modulus) > G″ (loss modulus) over most of the measured frequency range). These subsequently developed into weak viscoelastic semi-solids, showing frequency dependent behaviour on further crystallisation. These changes in behaviour were interpreted as changes from a small number of larger crystals “cross-linking” in a liquid matrix to a larger number of smaller crystals packed with a “slip plane” of liquid oil between them.

The rate of crystallisation of the three fats was in the order high trans > low-trans > commercial shortening. Changes in the DSC melting profile due to fractionation of triacylglycerols during the crystallisation at 31 °C were evident for all three fats.