Vanillin is widely used in cooking, perfumery, liquor and even in the manufacture of medicines. Vanilla aroma is considered the most popular and widely used aroma in the production of beverages and food. The modern food industry uses vanillin to flavor products, enhance the intensity of other flavors, and also to soften or mask an undesirable taste.
Vanillaplanifolia orchid vine with vanilla fruits, from which they produce vanillin, comes from Mexico. Today, this plant is distributed in tropical forests around the world, and Madagascar is the leading producer of natural vanillin worldwide. The fruits of vanilla are still green, not fully ripened. In this state, they still do not have vanilla odor and contain vanillin in the form of a glycoside. After harvesting, the fruits are kept for several months until a characteristic odor appears.
The exact preparation technology may vary depending on the region, but it can be simplified as follows: the seeds are blanched in hot water to suppress the processes in the living tissues of the plant, and then they are heated and steamed alternately for one to two weeks. During the day, the seeds lie in the sun, and every night they are wrapped in cloth and packaged in airtight containers. During the fermentation process, the seeds become dark brown. Finally, the seeds are dried and then kept for several months, during which their smell is further enhanced.
There are several accelerated methods for the isolation of vanillin, but they are not widely used in production. To reduce the time spent on production, seeds can be crushed, frozen, heated in other ways and treated with various chemicals.
World demand for vanillin significantly exceeds its real amount produced from vanilla pods. According to statistics, for example, the need for vanilla in 2001 was 12, 000 tons, and only 1, 800 tons were produced naturally. Accordingly, all the missing vanillin was created artificially, that is, chemically synthesized. Vanillin was first synthesized in the 19th century.
Vanillin is sold in several different forms. Crystal vanillin has a classic vanilla odor, is resistant to high processing temperatures, does not lose its qualities for 25 minutes even at a temperature of 220-250 ° C, is actively used in bakery and the manufacture of flour confectionery, in the production of ice cream. Vanillin in this form dissolves in water at 75 ° C, and in alcohol at 20 ° C. Powdered vanillin, in fact, is a mixture of vanillin with aromatic substances and various enhancing additives based on lactose, dextrose, maltodextrins, etc. If we compare powdered vanillin with crystalline, the powder has a finer structure. For this reason, it is used, for example, for the production of chocolate, since in this case its crystals are already crushed and have a more intense smell. Such vanillin already exudes intense aroma at room temperature. This type of vanillin is more technological, since it is more easily soluble in water. In addition, due to the possibility of introducing a wide variety of aromatic additives, it is possible to achieve a wide range of flavorings with various shades of aromas (fruit, berry, etc.).
Certain types of technologies assume the presence of only liquid components (both in fat-soluble and water-soluble forms), therefore, in these cases, vanillin is used in liquid form.
Liquid vanilla flavor is crystalline vanillin dissolved in ethanol, propylene glycol or triacetin. The main parameters for dissolving vanillin are the concentration and temperature of the solvent itself. For example, propylene glycol has a high boiling point of 180 ° C, due to which liquid flavorings made on its basis also have high heat resistance and are used for the preparation of dairy products, drinks and confectionery. In the preparation of products with a predominant fatty medium, triacetin is used as the basis for the vanilla flavor, which most fully reveals the aroma in the finished product.
As before, natural vanillin is one of the most expensive spices in the world today. This is due not only to the difficulty of growing vanilla, which requires artificial pollination, since only half of the flowers bear fruit. The main difficulty is associated with a long, technologically complex process of its development into a finished product. Vanillin in small amounts (no more than 3%) is contained in the fruits of vanilla in the form of glucoside, which is associated with the high cost of its production and the need to develop a synthetic substitute. However, like any other substitute, vanillin repeats far the whole gamut of the delicate aroma of real vanilla, since vanilla essential oil contains un synthesized minor components of the smell.
A substitute for natural vanilla is obtained from various chemicals. For example, methods are known for producing vanillin from catechol, guaiacol, eugenol and other substances. However, these raw material sources are also expensive and scarce, therefore, manufacturers of vanillin are constantly looking for more accessible and structurally similar substances for its synthesis. Now almost the entire volume of vanillin is produced from lignin obtained from wood, which is a by-product of the pulp and paper industry. In general, this product is of rather high quality and has the following properties: its melting point is 81-82.5 ° C, solubility in water is 0.5%, in 90% alcohol - 40%, in 95% isopropyl alcohol - 80%, in 50% glycerol - 15%.
The technology for producing vanillin from lignosulfonates implies the presence of several main production operations: alkaline oxidation of lingosulfonates to produce sodium vanillate, the destruction of sodium vanillate and the release of vanillin, extraction of vanillin by extraction with organic solvents, purification of raw vanillin, crystallization, drying and packaging of the finished product.
Ethyl vanillin can also be found on sale. This is called vanillin, in which the methyl group of vanillin is replaced by ethyl. Although ethyl vanillin has been known for many years, until recently its production volumes were hindered by the difficulty of preparing the product without unpleasant aftertaste. Modern technologies have eliminated this drawback, and now ethylvaniline is quite widespread. The use of ethyl vanillin is also economically beneficial for buyers, as its manufacturers claim that it is five times stronger, but only four times more expensive than natural vanillin. Ethyl vanillin is slightly different in smell from vanillin, but ordinary consumers simply do not notice this difference. To flavor this product, a 5% solution of ethyl vanillin in equal parts of isopropyl alcohol and water is used.
The best vanilla bean extracts are usually used for fondant fillings of high-quality chocolate or open fudge. For chocolate and powdered chocolate drinks, vanillin or ethyl vanillin are always used. Currently, vanillin is available in powder form, making it much more convenient to use.
The production of vanillin is considered complex and expensive. The cost of only one equipment for the manufacture of analogue of natural vanilla is several million rubles. In addition, a large staff of workers (at least 25 people), including highly qualified specialists - chemists and technologists - will be required to work in production. Such products must necessarily have a sanitary-epidemiological conclusion of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and comply with international standards. The estimated cost of the project to organize the production of vanillin and other flavors is estimated at 25 million rubles. According to preliminary estimates, the payback period is about five years. The profitability of this type of business is 19%.
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