Human senses and wood hemicelluloses

In some cases human senses are the best tool to study complex taste and odor properties of samples. A trained panel of ten persons gathered together to look for aromas and flavors of wood hemicellulose samples in the sensory lab of University of Helsinki, Viikki Campus.

The panelists evaluated properties of water solutions and product prototypes containing wood hemicelluloses. Panelists evaluated the color, odor, mouthfeel and taste of the samples. The study was very interesting because it was the first time that sensory properties of wood hemicelluloses were systematically characterized. The panelists said that this was a nice experience, although the task was not easy in the case of complex product prototypes.

In the researcher’s point of view, the sensory study is a completely new area which requires very good planning and a lot of work, but it provides invaluable information about the samples and is something that could be nice to continue working on in the future as well.

New Academy of Finland Postdoctoral research project

At the end of May 2018, good news arrived in our group! Fabio Valoppi obtained the Academy of Finland postdoctoral research funding with the project entitled “Acoustic waves as a new tailoring tool for lipid-based oleogels (NEW-WAVE)”. The project is about the development of a new technology able to finely modify the structure of oleogels (hydrogenated and saturated fat substitutes). This project brings in close collaboration the Food Materials Science group, the Food Chemistry research group, the Electronics Research Laboratory, and the Helsinki X-ray Laboratory, as well as establishes new collaborations with the ETH Zurich. More details will come during the next year, after Fabio will start the project (1.9.2018).

The Academy of Finland is an agency within the administrative branch of the Finnish Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, that every year fund high-quality scientific research. In the last Academy of Finland postdoctoral call, a total of 132 proposals were submitted to the Research Council for Biosciences and Environment, of which only 16 were funded.

We wish good luck to Fabio and look forward to touching with our hands the new piece of equipment he will develop.

Conference in China

In May 2018, doctoral student Mamata Bhattarai and postdoctoral researcher Fabio Valoppi from the Food Materials Science group, and doctoral student Yaqin Wang and university lecturer Ndegwa Maina from the Cereal Science group participated as speakers at the 14th International Hydrocolloid Conference in Nanchang (China). Mamata and Fabio presented the last findings of our group on the factors governing the formation of spruce galactoglucomannans assemblies in aqueous solutions and the role of spruce galactoglucomannans soluble and insoluble fractions on the physical stability of oil in water emulsions.

The conference had more than 300 participants, more than 100 speakers of which 13 invited. The last day, the participants had the possibility to visit the State Key Laboratory of Food Science and Technology of Nanchang University.

Mamata and Fabio not only had a fruitful time listening to and networking with international experts in the hydrocolloids area but also enjoyed the delicious local food (especially hot pot!).