Enzyme Uses in Food Applications

Kaiser roll formation before baking in Brenntag Food Application Laboratory in Zgierz

Enzymes play an important role in food and nutrition

Average read time: 4 minutes

Enzymes play complex roles in food production as well as general human health and nutrition. In simple terms, their job is to speed up chemical reactions. For example, digestive enzymes in the stomach, mouth, and small intestine help break down food, facilitating the absorption of nutrients into the body.

Over the years, humans have harnessed the power of different enzymes for a variety of applications. Enzymes help tenderize meat and facilitate the fermentation process when making beer, yogurt, and cheese. Industrial enzymes are essential to the medical and biofuel industries. They are also found in many detergents and cleansers.

Brenntag North America is one of the largest distributors of industrial enzymes for food and nutrition, among other applications. Keep reading to learn more about these useful substances and the many roles they play in both nature and industry.

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What are enzymes

Enzymes are the workhorses of the body. They break down carbohydrates (sugar and starch) to provide energy. Enzymes are involved in muscle contraction, nerve conduction, digestion, and most physiological functions. The majority of enzymes are proteins, though a small number, known as ribozymes, are catalytic RNA molecules.

The three primary applications of enzymes are to break things apart, change the shape of molecules, and join molecules together. The major types of enzymes relevant to food processing are:

  • Amylase enzymes: Amylase enzymes help break down starches into dextrins or sugar. Amylase enzymes facilitate a type of hydrolysis known as saccharification and begin the process of digestion in the human body. Amylase is present in saliva and the pancreas.
  • Lipolytic enzymes: Lipolytic, or lipase, enzymes help the hydrolysis of fats into glycerol and fatty acids. Lipase enzymes are present in adipose tissue (body fat), where they convert stored fat into usable energy during exercise or fasting.
  • Protease enzymes: Protease enzymes assist in the hydrolysis of proteins into peptides and/or amino acids.

Enzymes have the capability of facilitating more than 5,000 types of chemical reactions. As we learn more and further refine our ability to synthesize and utilize them, enzymes will continue to be employed in a wide range of processes outside the body.

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Enzyme uses in manufacturing

Several manufacturing and other industrial processes use enzymes as biocatalysts. Chemical companies produce enzymes from plants, animals, and microbial sources for use in vegetable and fruit processing, baking and milling, craft brewing and distilling, winemaking, and dairy and cheese processing, among other applications.

Each enzyme has a unique three-dimensional shape with a highly specific reactive capability. However, new research into protein engineering has promised to expand the potential uses of enzymes in industrial manufacturing.

A few common applications for enzymes are:

Benefits of enzymes for baking and milling are:

  • Creates prolonged softness
  • Increase dough handling and volume
  • Volume increase in high fiber bread
  • Increase volume and softness
  • Improve dough strengthening and whiteness
  • Sugar replacement and improved crust color
  • Improve whiteness and finer crumb structure
  • Gluten correction in biscuits and wafers
  • Egg reduction in cakes
  • Emulsifier replacement and improved whiteness

Benefits of enzymes for craft brewing and distilling are:

  • Easier, simpler, and more consistent processes
  • Fast processes
  • Improve steeping, brewing, cooking, and germination
  • Improve mashing
  • Improve yeast nutrition
  • More flexibility in the choice of raw materials
  • More extraction from raw materials
  • Improve the quality of final products

Benefits of enzymes for dairy and cheese processing are:

  • Improve amino acid production for cheese flavor enhancement
  • Improve fat hydrolysis for cheese flavor enhancement
  • Improve yield, taste, and texture of cheese
  • Aid in the production of cheese with consistent quality and reduced bitterness
  • Enable production of 'vegetarian cheese'
  • Help make cheese with a smooth and velvety texture
  • Lactose reduction for milk, cheese, and ice cream
  • Increase gel strength and viscosity, thus improving consistency of fruit preparations in yogurt

Benefits of enzymes for fruit and vegetable processing are:

  • Faster and efficient juice extraction from apples and pears
  • Depectinization of juices
  • Haze clarification of juices
  • Maceration, color extraction, and deceptization of grapes and berries
  • Cloud stability for citrus juices
  • Juice clarification of stone and tropical fruits
  • Vegetable juice and oil extraction
  • Fruit and vegetable firming and French Cider production
  • De-bittering of fruit juices
  • Improving throughout and membrane cleaning

Benefits of enzymes for winemaking are:

  • Decrease viscosity
  • Increase press yields
  • Improve settling and enhance clarification
  • Improve depectination
  • Improve the extraction of tannins and aromas
  • Decrease the filtration time
  • Extract more color

Contact us for enzymes in your applications

Brenntag North America is a leading distributor of food and nutritional enzymes for industrial use. Our customers rely on us to provide them with the most advanced products on the market today. We are committed to food safety and supply chain traceability. Our goal is to ensure that each of our clients has the information they need to make informed decisions about the products they use.

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