The supermarket shelves have been full of Christmas biscuits since September, and in October at the latest the "hollow chocolate figures" in the form of Santa Clauses, snowmen and golden teddy bears will soon follow. The recipe and the quality of the ingredients are important for a good taste, but in addition to this, the appearance and sensory characteristics are also important to us, the consumers - even if we are often unaware of them: the icing must not crumble from the cookies, the chocolate should be nice and crunchy and not melt before we have a chance to taste it. To achieve these properties, the professionals in industrial bakeries rely on special edible oils and fats.
Before freshly extracted vegetable oils can be used in food, they undergo complex purification and modification processes, including complete hydrogenation and interesterification. This removes impurities that affect color, smell and taste. It can also change the texture and increase shelf life. The fatty acid chains of edible fats consist of carbon atoms linked by single and double bonds. The more double bonds there are, the lower the melting temperature of the fat, and the more sensitive it is to atmospheric oxygen, which can attack these double bonds.
Through the process of hydrogenation, these double bonds are completely converted into single bonds in a chemical reaction by the addition of hydrogen. This process is also called "hardening", because oils become more viscous or even solid. In addition, the resulting fat is highly resistant to air oxidation leading to a long shelf life without rancidity.
The use of Evonik’s MONCATTM catalysts for the complete hydrogenation of fats and oils ensures a smooth rapid reaction under economically viable conditions. However, the catalyst itself is not consumed and does not remain in the product. The total hydrogenation of fats and oils makes the formation of harmful trans fatty acids impossible so that safe cocoa butter alternatives and other specialty fats can be made via interesterification with these fully hydrogenated oils.
The catalysts required for oil and fat hardening are developed and manufactured by Evonik in Dombivli. At the site, 40 kilometers northeast of Mumbai, some 300 employees produce and sell nickel-based hydrogenation catalysts under the brand name MONCAT™. In these special catalysts, the activated nickel metal is embedded in fat and is therefore in the form of small pastilles that can be handled and transported safely and dissolve quickly and evenly in vegetable oil.
From Dombivli we supply our customers all over the world. Smooth logistics in coordination with sales in the regions and our supply chain management colleagues are particularly important for this product group. Evonik's catalysts make certain that the Christmas cookies and Santa Clauses are on the shelves every year in good time, fresh and flawless. Even if the chocolate has a shelf life of several months, the Santa Clauses still taste best in December!