The UK’s leading plant bakers have all completed technical trials with the tiny salt crystals, which have been engineered by Nottingham-based Eminate using patent-pending technology that changes the structure of salt crystals to create free-flowing, microscopic hollow balls with the consistency of talc.
At 5-10 microns, they are a fraction of the size of standard salt (c.200-500 microns), and deliver an intense hit on the taste buds, enabling plant bakers to cut salt by more than 50% without impacting volume, texture or weight, claims the firm.
Bakers have also achieved significant increases in shelf-life as the tiny salt crystals cross-link gluten in dough more effectively, helping to lock in moisture.
While Eminate had initially focused on the bakery sector for its micro salt - dubbed SodaLo - work was now progressing with cheese, sausages, crisps, sauces, soups and bakery premixes, business sales manager Kevin Wilson told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“We’re conducting trials on cheddar at the moment with a relatively large dairy company, and we’ve done a lot of work on snacks and other products.”
Retail brand launch
It is also developing a retail brand that it hopes to bring to the market within three months, he said. “SodaLo is for the b2b sector, but we want to differentiate our product in the retail sector as it is very different from other salt replacers, which typically use potassium chloride.
“We are still selling salt – it’s just smaller – so the message for consumers is more like ‘one shake instead of two’."
The tiny crystals, which are manufactured in the UK using technology developed by Eminate’s technical director Dr Stephen Minter, were more expensive than salt, but competitively priced compared with other salt replacers, he claimed.
Their clean-label status (they can be listed as ‘salt’ on labels) was their real USP, he said. “People don’t want to use potassium chloride, flavour enhancers, nucleic acid, yeast extracts and peptides.”
Small - but not hygroscopic
It is well-known that the smaller the crystals, the higher the salt perception. However, simply grinding salt to make the particles smaller is no good as they lose their free-flowing properties and stick together.
Eminate has overcome this problem through changing the structure of salt crystals to create free-flowing, microscopic hollow balls.
Trials of the same technology on sodium bicarbonate – which is responsible for high sodium levels in some cakes – had also proved successful, offering bakers the opportunity to reduce sodium in a wider range of products, claimed Minter.
“We have also been experimenting with encapsulating flavours, colours and bioactives such as pharmaceuticals within the balls.”