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Organic Citrus Fiber: Mother Nature’s Natural Emulsifier & Water Binder


Citrus fiber is considered the new kid on the block in the hydrocolloid world. Though it provides functionalities such as high water holding and emulsification properties similar to some hydrocolloids, this upcycled fiber is produced from a byproduct of the citrus juicing industry. At the same time, not all citrus fibers are created the same. Some citrus fibers, like Citri-Fi®, contain both insoluble and soluble fiber with high levels of intact pectin. Citri-Fi is produced using a process free from chemical modifications, unlike others in the market. This unique composition lends itself to the high functionality at low usage levels (<1%).

Citrus fibers provide more functionality than many commonly used ingredients because of both their physical and chemical composition in addition to a pleasant mouthfeel. Nature produces citrus fruits that contain both soluble and insoluble fiber which are naturally absorbent and succulent without having a slimy mouthfeel like many soluble polysaccharide ingredients nor a gritty mouthfeel like many insoluble-based fibers. Instead, the insoluble fiber in citrus tends to be quite amorphous which means it does not contribute to grittiness like many fibers do. In addition to the fiber matrix, citrus fibers also contain small amounts of naturally occurring protein, which provides hydrophobic interactions and assists in oil binding properties. Thus, when considering the pleasant mouthfeel along with high water and oil binding properties, citrus fibers provide many functional attributes.

Due to the growing demand for organic foods, Fiberstar launched the Citri-Fi 400 series which is USDA certified organic. This new product line is similar to the new Citri-Fi 600 series which is a neutral flavored citrus fiber but now with the organic certification. Both series deliver a higher viscosity versus the flagship 100 product line making it ideal for foods such as baked goods, beverages, dairy products, sauces, meat substitutes, frozen foods and dairy alternatives.

Citri-Fi 400 citrus fiber is easy to use. The citrus fiber needs to be hydrated to activate the full functionality. Because of this, it is recommended to mix the dry citrus fiber with other dry ingredients first before mixing with liquids. Otherwise, other options include mixing the citrus fiber first with oil before hydrating or adding Citri-Fi to water under strong agitation. This ensures that the citrus fiber is fully hydrated.

In baked goods, Citri-Fi, when used between 0.3% and 1.0%, enhances moisture retention which improves the perception of freshness. Because of its emulsification properties, Citri-Fi allows bakers to reduce egg and/or oil content while maintaining the full-fat mouthfeel. And in meat substitutes, when the organic Citri-Fi  is used between 0.5% to 2.0%, it creates firmness, juiciness and succulence which are key to producing high quality patties, sausages and meatballs.

However, in more aqueous food systems like dairy, dairy alternatives and dressings, this natural citrus fiber binds oil and water in harsh food processing conditions such as low pH, heat and freeze/thaw. As a result, Citri-Fi controls syneresis and stabilizes to prevent separation over time. Due to the small granular size, Citri-Fi produces smooth textures. The usage ranges from 0.1% to 1.0%. In frozen foods, like ice cream, Citri-Fi minimizes ice crystal formation at low usage levels (<1%). As a result, frozen dairy desserts stay smooth and creamy.

Another key food application is in tomato-based products. The tomato shortage and steep pricing have triggered alternative solutions one being citrus fiber. In sauces like pasta or pizza sauce, Citri-Fi can extend tomato paste up to 25% while maintaining the natural tomato-like texture. This is due to the fact that citrus fiber’s composition is similar to tomato fibers making it a preferred solution over other food ingredient extenders on the market. At less than 1% usage, Citri-Fi not only extends the tomato paste but also creates stability over shelf-life without needing chemical modifications or high shear conditions like homogenization. Citri-Fi also can extend tomato paste in tomato-based beverages such as tomato juice as well.

With the ability to bind both water and oil, citrus fibers can also be used in many meat and poultry applications to increase yields and replace other synthetic ingredients commonly used for binding. In ground meats, typically a larger particle size citrus fiber is used which requires usage levels from 0.25% to 1% depending on the amount of water and fat needing to be bound. In marinade injected meats, Citri-Fi,  at 0.25% to 0.5% usage range, can be used in conjunction with other buffers or binders to improve the yield, reduce purge and enhance succulence. With its small particle size and low viscosity in brine systems, the Citri-Fi is the ideal choice for superior pumpability, moisture retention, and yield improvement in injected meat and poultry items. On the other hand, for those customers looking to reduce or replace phosphates, Citri-Fi can be used with other natural hydrocolloids such as rice starch or carrageenan. This clean label solution still maintains high yields and juiciness while improving the label declaration.

In addition to being organic, the Citri-Fi line is non-allergenic, gluten-free and non-GMO. Labeling options include citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour which resonate well in the natural markets. The versatility of organic Citri-Fi has been a preferred ingredient when formulating organic food and beverages. Manufacturers favor using one ingredient like citrus fiber versus an array of ingredients to produce multiple functionalities. It keeps the labeling clean and simple which aligns with organic food and beverage makers formulating goals today

Content sponsored by Fiberstar, Inc