Green-Light Your Product: Characterizing Plant-Based Milk Alternatives with Laser Diffraction
Plant-based milks have a much lower environmental impact than dairy milk, but also a more complex manufacturing process. Their mouthfeel as well as their stability is strongly correlated to the size of the dispersed particles. Here, the PSA is used to characterize the particle size distribution of oat, soy and almond milk, highlighting differences in manufacturing processes.
While dairy milk remains a dietary staple in many countries, recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the manufacturing and consumption of plant-based milk alternatives. These beverages can be derived from grains (such as oat and rice), but also from beans (soybeans, peas), nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, cashew, coconut) and even seeds (hemp, flaxseed). Many consumers choose a plant-based alternative to dairy milk on health grounds, such as caloric reduction, lactose intolerance, or milk protein allergy. But the most compelling argument in favor of plant-based milks is surely their reduced environmental impact. Indeed, greenhouse gas emissions for a liter of plant-based milk are only a fraction of that of dairy milk, while land use, water use and soil eutrophication are also very significantly reduced. Manufacturing plant-based milk can, however, be very challenging. The basic process is relatively universal, requiring either wet grinding (soaking and grinding of the basis product) or the re-hydration of dry-milled powders (whole flour, dry protein concentrate), followed by the filtering out of particulates. But further manufacturing steps diverge enormously between milk types and manufacturers.
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