Using the Functional Properties of Starch to Enhance Confections (Candy) Products

When considering confections (candy) as the products category, the food scientist should review the different confections being marketed today. Confections are generally listed in one of three categories:

  • soft candies,
  • gummy (chewable), and
  • hard (nonchewable).

Soft candies are those products similar to chocolate-based or flavor-coated products (i.e., circus peanuts) that may or may not be chewable. Gummy (chewable) type candies are gum drops, jelly beans, jube-jube, etc. The hard (nonchewable) category would be those confections that are related to products such as cough drops, lozenges, etc.

Starches utilized in these confections can differ dramatically. Soft candies usually require starches that generate a tender texture and typically are not gelling. Another type could require a starch possessing little heat stability and would totally degrade if exposed to an enzyme system. An example would be the starch used for the production of a confection called a “chocolate-covered cherry” product.

Others confection products may be for the preparation of caramel or fruit centers. In the gummy and hard candies, starches are similar, but differ with the degree of modification and are blended as necessary to accomplish the desired texture. Gummy candies are produced using hydrolyzed starches. In some instances, lightly modified or unmodified high amylose starch may be utilized. For the production of hard candies, this type of starch would be used because of the set generated by the greater percentage of amylose.

In all confections, the food scientist will have to decide on a sweetener system. It could contain sucrose or more likely will be composed of differing types of liquid sweeteners derived from a carbohydrate modification. It is probable that the sweetener system will be derived from a hydrolyzed grain-based syrup, generally supplied as a liquid.

Some sweeteners are available derived from other starch bases but are not commercially available and do not offer quite the economics, as yet. Solids for most confections are in excess of 80%, thus requiring elevated or greater than atmospheric conditions to process.

To develop the textures desired for the gummy or hard candies, starch is typically added at a 6%-13% level. The added starch could be either a single unit or more likely a blend of starches to achieve the desired results.

Flavors and colors are usually not processed at the extreme conditions as they could be compromised in functionality. Because of the levels required to generate desired color and flavor profiles and their cost, usage is typically minimal in these formulations.

In the confections marketed as low or no-sugar, considerable efforts are made to limit variance from the above confections. These low or reduced calorie confections provide the food scientist with another challenge for balancing the excess water with other carbohydrates and hydrocolloids, while hopefully duplicating the original full-sugar product.

Today there is a growing market for the sugar-free product, but to insure the sweetness, high-intensity or nonnutritive sweeteners are the dominate choice for use. In many cases, reformulation is easier in confections with the no-sugar claim, than formulations attempting to make a low or no-fat claim.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *