The choice of raw materials
To manufacture a margarine or fat that is solid at room temperature, the recipe must include a proportion of at least one ingredient containing enough saturated fats to give structure to the product.
Indeed, there is a direct correlation between the solid character of a product and its levels of saturated fat: the more saturated fat it contains, the more solid it is. In lay terms, saturated fats “slot” easily into each other whereas unsaturated fats have more irregular structures less conducive to forming a “rigid” assembly.
This makes it impossible to work exclusively with rapeseed, soya, olive or sunflower oils because in their natural state these are … liquids. The only way to use these liquid oils is to solidify them artificially through the hydrogenation process, that is to say by adding hydrogen atoms to hang them to the carbon chain of the acid fat, thus stiffening its structure.
However, while so-called “total” hydrogenation”, i.e. Adding hydrogen atoms over the entire carbon chain, poses no particular health problem, the term hydrogenation is generally associated in people’s minds with so-called “partial” hydrogenation. Partial hydrogenation, today almost abandoned except for some very specific applications, entails not adding sufficient hydrogen atoms to complete all the links of the carbon chain. Advantage: the texture can be adapted at will depending on the degree of partial hydrogenation. Big disadvantage: through the links that are left free, this technique indirectly generates trans fats that represent a proven danger to health.
Therefore, given that animal fats are no longer in demand among our customers, particularly because of the “mad cow” food crisis, and that hydrogenated vegetable oils are systematically associated, wrongly when fully hydrogenated, with trans fatty acids and therefore a danger to health, there are only few alternatives if we want to add this level of saturated fatty acids to our products.
It is therefore because palm oil has a relatively intermediate level of saturated fat compared to coconut oil for example, that we, as well as many professionals in the food industry, have turned towards this vegetable oil.