Wheat tortillas are a big part of the tortilla market alongside more traditional corn tortillas. They're a fast-growing business since tortillas are one of the most popular types of bread in the US. Offering a multitude of functional and processing properties, lecithin can help food manufacturers improve the production, appearance and shelf life of their tortillas.
Increased processing efficiency
Lecithin is a naturally occurring emulsifier composed of phospholipids and other substances, including triglycerides, fatty acids and glycolipids. In dough processing, it not only acts as a mixing aid that facilitates the distribution of ingredients, it also promotes flour hydration. This increases process efficiency, resulting in less wear and tear on production equipment.
Excellent dough conditioning
Lecithin also functions as a dough conditioner, aiding gluten formation and improving dough extensibility. Its conditioning properties facilitate dough processing by preventing under or overdevelopment which translates into reduced mixing time. Lecithin also maintains uniform moisture throughout processing helping to avoid surface drying. At the same time, it reduces dough stickiness and enhances machinability. The result is uniform dough balls with fewer doubles, increased sheetability with reduced risk of tearing, and consistent tortilla shape.
As well as its processing benefits, lecithin enhances the appearance of tortillas. By using it in recipes, manufacturers can produce tortillas that are 5% larger in diameter compared to standard grade emulsifiers, without compromising the weight or number of tortillas produced per batch. Lecithin also delivers excellent tortilla opacity directly after production. After about half the shelf life, lecithin improves opacity by 10% or more compared to tortillas without emulsifiers. The extent of this improvement is time dependent. By improving the extensibility and elasticity of the dough, lecithin can extend the shelf life of tortillas.
Other valuable benefits
All these benefits can be achieved using low levels of lecithin in formulations: 0.5 - 1.0% based on flour weight. It can be added directly to the dough during mixing, to the fat ingredient or it can be dry blended with flour prior to the addition of other ingredients depending on the lecithin's form. As a plant-based emulsifier, lecithin is label-friendly. Sunflower lecithin is allergen-free and deoiled lecithin is easy to measure and transfer. Lecithins also have a long shelf life: 24 months for liquid forms and 18 months for deoiled types.
Application expertise brought to you
Bunge Loders Croklaan continuously improves its expertise in lecithins. As a result, we gain useful insights that you can use in specific applications and we are happy to share our knowledge. To learn more about the benefits of lecithin in wheat tortillas, please watch the 45 minutes presentation from our lecithin expert Kristy Arendse on the top of this page (switch on the sound in the video screen). It was presented at the 2020 TIA Tortilla conference in Europe.
On July 10 2021 our flour expert Majot Singh explains about our quality material and process control on the Tortilla Convention Education Sessions in San Antonio Texas.
Contact our team to apply our knowledge to your tortillas.