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.

Summer of emulsions

Food Science student Venla Juntti describes her summer experience: “As a master student I was happy to find out that I was chosen to spend my summer as research assistant for the Food Materials Science Research group. I have learned a lot in a short time about emulsions and different polysaccharides. It feels that my mind is already turning closer to being a researcher (-ish at least) than a student. I was also pleasantly surprised by the great team spirit of this group: you can always find help when needed and enjoy together so much pizza – as cleaning days.

I am interested in the idea of turning waste into valuable raw materials. That is the reason why I feel motivated to work on wood hemicellulose –based emulsion stabilizers. Exploiting the side streams of wood industry in novel products is a huge opportunity in Finland, where we have plenty of forests and a lot of know how in valorizing them. It is one step closer to reusing all our materials and reducing waste as low as possible.”

Italy moves to Helsinki

“Having the possibility to study new techniques and to work with a great group in the charming Helsinki is the best experience I could do”. These are words of Giulia Alt, an Erasmus student from the University of Udine (Italy), performing the experimental work for her master thesis in our laboratory. The thesis is focused on the evaluation of the functionality of surface active molecules from grains and on their characterization in terms of chemical composition and properties. Then the study moves forward with the formation and characterization of emulsions stabilized by these plant-based compounds. We also had a chance to taste and enjoy grains in the form of most delicious Italian pizza prepared by Giulia Alt and Fabio Valoppi!

Welcome to FoMSci-Blog!

Welcome to the blog of Food Materials Science Research Group. 

We characterize and valorize polysaccharides, especially those obtained as side streams from various bioprocesses, in food and food contact materials. We are interested in understanding the behavior of polysaccharides in dispersed systems: their gelation and formulation into aerogels, emulsifying properties, and capacity to inhibit lipid oxidation.

This is where we post updates and information about what we’re working on.
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