Processing

Please wait...

Settings

Settings

Goto Application

1. WO2020136155 - PORTIONED GRANOLA FOOD PRODUCT WHICH DISINTEGRATES IN A LIQUID SUCH AS MILK

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

Portioned granola food product which disintegrates in a liquid such as milk

Field of the invention

The present invention concerns a granola type food product.

Granola generally designates a food made of baked grains, nuts, dried fruit, and cereals, and/or other edible pieces or particulates bound together by a binder.

While similar unbound mixes usually called trail mixes or muesli are known, the present invention relates to mixes bound together and the meaning of "granola" according to the present invention is limited to such bound mixes.

Background of the invention

Granola can have various base compositions. It usually comprises a variety of grains, nuts, cereal in several forms such as flakes, and other food particulates, forming a so-called solid dry mix composition. The dry mix composition is agglomerated thanks to a binder.

A granola is usually obtained by mixing the dry mix composition and the binder which is initially in a fluid or semi-fluid form. The binder usually comprises water, edible oil, sugars or sugar syrups, emulsifiers, and flavorings.

The result, called wet mix, is formed into a slab by passing it through a series of compression rollers. The slab is then baked (or dried, typically at high temperature) and cooled. When cooled, the slab has solidified. The slab is then crushed into pieces, which can be calibrated using a sieve, and packaged.

The pieces of granola are generally eaten by the consumer in milk or yogurt.

Another known type of granola product is handheld bars. To obtain such granola bars, the process is the same as above described, except that the slab is cut to size before baking. The solid bars obtained after cooling are generally individually packed, and eaten as such.

While granola products are appreciated, the consumer experience can still be optimised in many respects.

Granola products in pieces which are intended to be eaten in milk or yogurt are not appealing for some consumers, for example for some children. The pieces have irregular forms and sizes, and the cereal flakes, nuts, fruits, or extruded products present in the granola are often broken and may thus have a non-appealing aspect. The granola can comprise hard pieces and/or pieces with sharp edges, leading to a texture which may be unpleasant for some consumers. Furthermore, the amount of product poured from a packet of granola into e.g. milk is difficult to control for some consumers. Therefore, the product is not easy to use, and the consumer is also unaware of the exact amount of poured product. This can be a problem for consumers taking great care of their diet, or when the consumers are children who serve themselves without moderation. Moreover, while granola is appreciated, it usually comprises a high amount of sugar, and any improvement in this respect is beneficial.

The present invention aims to address at least some of the above problems of the granola food products primarily intended to be eaten with a liquid or fluid product such as milk or yogurt.

Summary of the invention

The invention relates to a food product of granola type comprising an edible dry mix composition and a binder, wherein said food product has the form of a portion of 5 to 60 grams of said dry mix composition agglomerated by the binder, wherein the binder comprises at least 45% by weight of honey, of invert sugar, or of a mix of honey and invert sugar, and wherein the food product has a dry mix composition to binder ratio such that the total sugar amount of the food product is below 20% in weight.

The proposed granola food product is portioned. The quantity of product forming a portion is known, such that the consumer can eat a recommended amount of product (e.g. one portion), or adapt the number of portions to obtain the desired amount of product, especially when the food product is portioned in small portions.

Furthermore, thanks to the binder composition and the adapted dry mix to binder ratio, the applicant has found that a granola food product can be obtained, which provides at the same time the following advantageous properties:

- the portions are sufficiently agglomerated to present a desired, advantageously appealing, three-dimensional shape and to have sufficient mechanical properties to be packaged, transported and handled with no broken portions, or an acceptably low ratio thereof, in the package up to the moment of use of the product by the consumer;

- the amount of sugar (percentage by weight) in the granola product is substantially lower than in known granola type products; more generally, the provided product can have high nutritional advantages and makes it possible to provide real cereals in an appealing form, e.g. for children;

- when the portions are immersed in a liquid or a fluid, in particular in milk or yogurt, the portion disintegrates spontaneously or under a weak mechanical action, for example of a spoon, in a reasonable time

(typically under one minute). The user recovers granola pieces in milk or yogurt, as usually. Such disintegration is also amusing and appealing, especially for children.

The food product can be a molded food product.

It can advantageously be configured to break into at least two pieces in less than two minutes, preferably one minute by rupture of the agglomeration provided by the binder when said product is immersed in milk at 20°C under a force applied by a mass of 1.5kg and distributed over an upper surface of the portion.

One of the main aims of the invention is to provide a granola food product able to disintegrate in milk or another edible liquid or semi-liquid product. By disintegration, it is meant that the binder gives way and the products disintegrate into pieces. The consumer is thus provided with pieces of granola products in milk as if milk had been poured onto traditional granola.

The dry mix composition can comprise more than 40% by weight of cereal flakes. In such case, the cereal flakes can comprise a majority of oat flakes or consists of oat flakes. More particularly, the dry mix composition can comprise oat flour. The dry mix composition can comprise edible crisps.

The dry mix composition to binder weight ratio can be comprised between 70/30 and 85/15, and preferably between 72/28 and 82/18.

The food product portion can have a three-dimensional shape defined between two parallel surfaces, namely a lower substantially flat surface and an upper surface, a thickness being defined as the distance between the lower surface and the upper surface, and wherein the thickness is more than 10 mm.

The invention also relates to a package enclosing a plurality of food products as above described, wherein the food products enclosed in the package, except possibly broken ones, have substantially the same weight and three-dimensional shape.

The invention also relates to a process for manufacturing a food product as above described, the process comprising the following succession of steps:

a) providing the dry mix composition and the binder in syrup form;

b) mixing the dry mix composition and the binder to obtain a wet mix;

c) molding the wet mix to obtain a portion having a desired three- dimensional shape;

d) drying the portion above 100°C;

e) cooling to ambient temperature.

The molding step can be advantageously performed in a molding machine comprising a molding part provided with a plurality of cavities, each cavity forming a mold where a portion can be molded, a reception surface for receiving the portions, and release means for unmolding the portions on the reception surface.

The process provided for manufacturing a food product as previously described makes it possible to mold portions of granola product into the desired shape, e.g. an appealing shape such as a teddy bear shape. The composition provided makes it possible to obtain a dry mix which can be unmolded with good shape regularity, and which has sufficient cohesion to be transferred e.g. on a conveyer belt to a suitably configured dryer or cooker.

The molding step can comprise applying a pressure comprised between 0 bar and 6 bar on the wet mix.

While the sugar amount in the final granola product obtained with a process according to the invention is lower than in conventional granola, compression during molding of the portions makes it possible to further lower the quantity of binder (i.e. to increase the dry mix to binder ratio) and thus to lower the sugar amount. Such compression allows a typical 10% lowering of binder amount compared to a granola food product according to the invention obtained without compression during the molding step.

The molding part can comprise a rotating roll the surface of which comprises the cavities, and the reception surface can be formed by a belt of a conveyor belt.

The release means can comprise pistons or a compressed air system which pushes the portions out of the cavities.

Brief description of the drawings

Additional features and advantages of the present invention are described in, and will be apparent from, the description of the presently preferred embodiments which are set out below with reference to the drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a block diagram which represents an example embodiment of a process for manufacturing a food product of granola type according to the invention;

Figure 2 represent a food product of granola type according to an embodiment of the invention;

Figure 3 is a table showing the impact of several parameters on properties of a granola food product in experimental conditions;

Figure 4 is a graph showing the impact of the dry mix to binder ratio on the disintegration time of a granola type product.

Detailed description of the invention

Figure 1 is a block-diagram which represents an example embodiment of a process for manufacturing a food product of granola type according to the invention.

The granola type product comprises a dry mix composition agglomerated by a binder.

In a first step SI, the binder is obtained in a syrup form (liquid having a high viscosity), by mixing suitable ingredients. In particular, the binder used to obtain a food product according to the invention comprises at least 45% (and preferably over 50%) by weight of honey, of invert sugar, or of a mix of honey or invert sugar. Glucose syrup can optionally be added to enhance cohesion of the product before baking (see hereafter). The binder also generally comprises a certain amount of oil. Example embodiments of binders that can be used comprise, by weight:

- 73.5% of Honey and 7% to 8% of oil;

- 56% of Honey and 6% of oil;

- 41% of Honey, 28% of invert sugar, 14% of glucose syrup, and 7% of oil;

- 54% of invert sugar, 13% of glucose syrup + 6% of oil.

Generally speaking, honey and invert sugar can be substituted for each other in the binder composition. Other ingredients such as, but not limited to, salt, flavors, calcium carbonate and lecithin can be used in the binder.

In a second step (S2), in parallel with the preparation of the binder, a dry mix composition is obtained. The dry mix composition can comprise grains, nuts, cereal in several forms such as flakes, and other food particulates and edible powders. In preferred embodiments of the invention, the dry mix composition comprises cereals as main ingredient. More particularly, oats can be the main ingredient of the dry mix composition, e.g. in the form of flakes. Typical dry mix compositions that can be used in the invention can comprise 42% to 45% by weight of oat flakes. The dry mix composition can also comprise crisps (i.e. rice puffs, small extruded cereals, or puffed flakes), for example the dry mix composition can comprise 33% to 41% by weight of crisps. Flour, such as oat flour, can be added for example in an amount comprised between 13% and 17% by weight.

Other edible solid components or particles can be added to the dry mix composition, such as extruded pieces, grains, chocolate drops and fruit or nuts pieces.

The dry mix composition and the binder are then mixed together in a third step S3 to form a wet mix.

The dry mix to binder ratio is an important parameter in the present invention. In particular, this is presented with reference to Figure 3, presenting the influence of the recipe parameters on the product and especially on the physical characteristics of the product.

In this specific table, the product has a three-dimensional complex shape, like a teddy bear having an embossed belly and a snout.

As can be seen, the dry mix to binder ratio is an important parameter and influences the disintegration time of the granola food product in a liquid such as milk. Moreover, it directly influences the amount of sugar in the final product.

The dry mix to binder ratio (by weight) used in the invention is advantageously comprised between 72/28 and 82/18. According to embodiments of the invention, the dry mix to binder ratio is comprised between 77/23 and 80/20, for example around 78/22.

The dry mix to binder ratio is provided before drying or baking of the food product. However, thanks to a low evaporation rate during baking, the ratio is considered to remain substantially the same in the final product.

In the represented example process embodiment, the dry mix is formed and then mixed with the binder. However, the invention does not exclude processes wherein the ingredients of the dry mix composition are mixed one after another with the binder. Forming the wet mix by mixing directly the dry mix composition ingredients and the binder ingredients is also possible.

In a molding step (S4), the wet mix is molded. For exemple, the wet mix is introduced into a hopper of a molding machine. Molds are filled with wet mix. The capacity of a mold can correspond to the desired volume for a granola food product portion. The mold provides the portion with the desired shape. In particular, the mold can be formed by a cavity, the bottom of which as a flat or three dimensional shape, and the top of which can be free or closed by a flat surface such that a generally flat base surface of the portion is formed.

An example molding machine particularly suited for molding the portions comprises a rotating roll or drum, the surface of which comprises the cavities.

The molding machine comprises a hopper into which the wet mix is loaded. The molding machine comprises a rotating roll or drum, the external surface of which is provided with cavities for molding the portions. The cavities are filled with wet mix from the hopper, when said cavities are at the top of the drum.

An optional piston system can be used to compress the wet mix in the cavities. More particularly, a mechanical pressure is applied on the wet mix in the cavity. This mechanical pressure, applied in addition to the atmospheric pressure, can for example be comprised between 0 bar (no additional pressure is applied) and 6 bar. The wet mix is thus tamped. Depending on the applied pressure, the cohesion of the molded portions is enhanced. A higher pressure makes it possible to increase the dry mix to binder ratio and to lower the amount of sugar in the final granola type product.

Alternatively, a flexible belt can be applied to the surface of the drum and maintained around the drum to hold the wet mix in the cavities during rotation of the drum, until said cavities reach a low position.

As the drum rotates through the 6 o'clock position where the considered cavity is at the bottom of the drum, the shaped portion is released from the cavity.

The molding machine can comprise release means to help release of the portions from the cavities. Such release means can comprise a piston which is configured to push the portion out of the cavity of the molding machine. Alternatively, release means can comprise a compressed air system configured to apply air under pressure into the cavity, e.g. through a wall of the cavity comprising small openings, so as to push the portion out of said cavity.

The so molded portions are unmolded on a reception surface. More particularly, the molding machine can be configured to unmold the portions with the flat base surface of the portion lying on the reception surface. The reception surface can advantageously be the surface of a belt of a conveyor belt. Indeed, while the binder in fluid form is sufficient to provide a certain cohesion to the molded portion, the portions must nevertheless be transported with care, without shocks or abrupt accelerations. When a flexible belt is applied around the drum of the molding machine to hold the wet mix in a cavity, the same belt can be unrolled from the drum when it reaches the 6 o'clock position to form the reception surface and to transport the unmolded portion for further processing.

The portion is then typically moved to a dryer in which it is dried at high temperature, above 100°C (drying step S5). Such drying, or cooking, evaporates a large part of the water present in the wet mix, in particular in the binder. The viscosity of the binder increases, the binder solidifies to different hardness when cooled in a cooling step S6 depending on the viscosity of the binder. During the cooling step, the dried portions return to or near ambient temperature (e.g. about 20°C). Cooling can be performed at ambient temperature, or in cooled air, pulsed or not.

After the cooling step S6, one or several food products of granola type according to the invention are obtained.

An optional sieving step S7 can be performed. The sieving steps make it possible to separate the broken products and crumbs from the intact products. The broken products are crushed and potentially rehydrated to be introduced in a next wet mix batch.

The (intact) products are packed in a packing step S8. The products may be packed individually, or in bulk, or both (in packets of individually packed products).

Almost any three-dimensional shape of product can be obtained. Because of the preferred process of manufacture described above, the shape of the product preferably comprises a flat base surface. The top surface (opposite the flat base surface) and the lateral surfaces of the food product can have almost any form, rounded or sharp. For example, the granola product can have the general two or three-dimensional shape of a teddy bear.

It is sought in the invention to obtain a portion of granola product which has an appealing three-dimensional shape and which also has sufficient mechanical properties to be packaged, transported and handled. At the same time, the product has to disintegrate easily in a liquid such as milk.

The applicant has discovered that, with the provided dry mix composition, binder, and an adequate dry mix to binder ratio, such product can be obtained. However, better results are obtained when the portion has a thickness of more than 10 mm, and preferably more than 20 mm. The portion being considered as a three-dimensional object, the thickness is defined as the smallest dimension of the portion. For example, for a portion comprising a substantially flat base surface, the thickness will generally be the dimension from the substantially flat base surface to an opposite surface of the portion measured in a direction perpendicular to the substantially flat base surface.

Figure 2 represents an example embodiment of a molded food product 1 according to the invention. The represented product has a three-dimensional shape which evokes the shape of a teddy bear. This is a very pleasant an appealing design, especially for children. Depending on the technology used for molding the product, many three-dimensional designs can be achieved.

It is often possible to determine for a three-dimensional object in an orthogonal coordinate system (x,y,z) a length I of the object (corresponding to its greatest dimension, defining the x direction), a width w in the y direction, and a thickness t (smallest of the three dimensions, in the z direction). For example, for a granola food product having the shape of a cube, I, w and t are equal.

According to the embodiment represented in Figure 2, the food product 1 can be considered as a three-dimensional object based on a base section (having a two-dimensional form evoking a teddy bear, in an (x,y) plan of the (x,y,z) coordinate system) and having a given fixed thickness t in the z direction. In other words, the represented product is defined between two parallel surfaces, a lower substantially flat base surface 2 and an upper surface 3, the width being the distance between the lower surface and the upper surface. According to alternative embodiments, the upper surface presents reliefs, such as bumps and hollows.

The lateral faces 4 of the food product can be perpendicular or substantially perpendicular to the substantially flat base surface 2, or can advantageously extend with an angle a, smaller than 90°, to facilitate release of the molded wet mix from the mold.

Typical dimensions of a teddy-bear shaped product as shown in Figure 2 can be a length I comprised between 60 mm and 100 mm, e.g. around 72 or 91 mm, a width w comprised between 50 mm and 80 mm, e.g. around 60 or 76 mm, and a width comprised between 10mm and 30 mm, e.g. around 20 mm.

For obtaining a granola food product having the desired properties (mechanical resistance, ability to disintegrate in liquids such as milk, a reduced sugar amount compared to traditional granolas), the applicant has conducted several tests and experiments on a three-dimensional complex shaped granola food product whose shape evokes a teddy bear having an embossed belly and a snout. The results are summarized in Figure 3, which represents a table showing the impact on some important properties of the product of parameters identified by the applicant.

The first column lists the identified parameters, namely the dry mix to binder ratio, the total sugar amount, the amount of invert sugar including honey, the big cereal flakes to small cereal flakes ratio, the crisp content, the oil content, and the cereal (e.g. oat) flour content.

The properties of the product are listed in the first line of the table. The important properties listed are: the disintegration time in milk (according a method of test hereafter explained), the number of perfect portions (i.e. the amount of portions perfectly molded and thus having exactly the desired shape), the number of broken portions (during release from the mold), the number of missing portions (not released from the mold), and the weight of a portion.

Each cell in the table shows the impact of a parameter on a property. In particular, an arrow represents the impact of an increase in the parameter on the property. An upward arrow represents an increase of the property, while a downward arrow represents a decrease of the property. An arrow in bold represents a high impact; a thin arrow represents a significant (but lower) impact. When a cell is empty, this means that no significant impact has been proven.

One of the teachings of this table is the high impact of the dry mix to binder ratio on at least three important parameters, namely the disintegration time in milk which decreases when the dry mix to binder ratio increases, the number of perfect portions which decreases when the dry mix to binder ratio increases and the number of missing portions which increases when the dry mix to binder ratio increases. This means that to obtain a granola product having the desired properties, in particular a low disintegration time in milk but a regular appealing shape, a compromise in the dry mix to binder ratio has to be found. That is why a dry mix to binder ratio higher than in traditional granola products is used.

Also, it has been found that use of invert sugar or honey is preferred over use of sugar in the binder. Use of invert sugar increases the number of perfectly shaped portions, while this also lowers the sugar amount in the product. That is why the binder used in the invention comprises a high amount of honey or invert sugar.

Large cereal flakes and crisps are important for providing the product with a pleasant texture, in particular once disintegrated in milk or yogurt, but their amount in the product should be limited to limit the amount of broken portions before packing and to ensure that the portions can then be handled without being broken into pieces.

Figure 4 is a graph showing the impact of the dry mix to binder ratio on the disintegration time of a granola type product.

The presented tests were performed with a granola food product obtained from a dry mix composition comprising Oat Flakes (42%), crisps (41%), and Oat Flour (17%). The used binder comprises Honey (73.5%) and Oil (7%). The tested granola food products were obtained according to a process as previously described. More particularly, the products were molded in a molding machine and dried.

A granola food product (i.e. a portion) is placed in a flat bottomed bowl. Milk at 20°C is poured over so that a small part of the piece remains emerged. A weight of 1.5 kg is placed on the piece and a clock is started. The clock is stopped when the weight falls.

The applicant has determined that this test is representative of the use of the provided granola product, and makes it possible to characterize the disintegration time for consumption of the product. Generally speaking, the disintegration time is the time necessary for the product to separate into pieces of a size analogous to the size of the pieces generally present in a traditional granola packet (i.e. packed pieces after granola slab crushing).

In addition to the composition of the product, many parameters have an impact on the time that is needed for the food product to disintegrate. For example, the following parameters have a significant impact: the shape and size of the product, forces of shocks applied (e.g. by a spoon) on the product, the temperature of the liquid into which the product is partially or fully immersed. The applicant has found that the above test is a method that is reproducible and which makes it possible to characterise the disintegration time, for example to evaluate if the product has disintegration properties which are acceptable for the consumer. Typically, a product tested according to the above test and which has an average disintegration time under two minutes can be considered as having acceptable disintegration properties. Preferably the disintegration time may be one minute.

In Figure 4, results are presented for products having a dry mix to binder ratio comprised between 76/24 and 86/14. The dry mix percentage by weight DM is represented in abscissa, the disintegration time according the above described test method is represented in ordinate.

It should be noted that a dry mix percentage by weight can be directly converted in a dry mix to binder ratio. For example, a dry mix percentage by weight of 80% corresponds to a dry mix to binder ratio of 80/20.

Each experimental value is represented as a dot. The average disintegration time, based on the obtained results, is approximated by linear regression. Results for dry mix to binder ratio outside the presented range can thus be extrapolated.

The results show some dispersion in the results, but a clear tendency. It appears that acceptable disintegration times are obtained with products having a dry mix percentage above about 74%. These results were obtained with products which were compressed under 5 bar during molding. The applicant has found that an acceptable disintegration time is obtained for an uncompressed product with a dry mix percentage above about 70% to 72%

Above about 85% of dry mix by weight, the disintegration time is very short but the product becomes hard to manufacture and fragile. Preferred food products according to the invention are obtained with a dry mix to binder ratio comprised between 72/28 and 82/18.

There is thus provided according to the invention a food product of granola type that can be molded to a desired appealing shape, such as a teddy-bear shape. The product is essentially made of a dry mix, typically comprising a high amount of cereals such as oat flakes, agglomerated by a binder. Thanks to an adequate composition of binder and an adequate dry mix to binder ratio in the

food product, the food product has sufficient cohesion properties to be molded to the desired shape, and has after baking sufficient mechanical properties to be packed and handled without being broken. At the same time, when immersed in a liquid such as milk, the food product disintegrates into pieces in a reasonable time (i.e. acceptable for the consumer, e.g. less than two minutes, or one and a half minutes, or one minute, depending on the targeted consumers and the considered markets) and under reasonable forces (liquid agitation or forces of a spoon on the product). The consumer is provided with granola in milk comparable to traditional granola products. Disintegration in milk is amusing, e.g. for children. The amount of sugar in the product is low compared to traditional granolas or to traditional cereal products for children. Because the product is portioned, the quantity of product eaten is known and can be controlled.

It should be understood that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and without diminishing its attendant advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.