What is invertase and what is it used for in the food industry?

Invertase is the enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of sucrose, the disaccharide we all know as regular sugar, to obtain its two components, glucose and fructose. This enzyme has many other names, the most accurate being Beta-Fructofuranosidase. The name sucrose is often used synonymously, but sucrose can refer to three enzymes: invertase, sucrose alpha-glucosidase, and sucrose-isomaltase.

The difference between the three is the exact way in which sucrose hydrolysis occurs. While invertase breaks the OC bond in fructose, sucrose alpha-glucosidase breaks the CO bond in glucose. Sucrose-isomaltase is an enzyme complex that hydrolyzes sucrose and isomaltase. Furthermore, invertase occurs mainly in plants and the other two in animals, including humans. Of the three, invertase is the easiest to obtain and is widely used in the food industry.

invert sugar

At an industrial level, invertase is mainly obtained from yeast cultures and is used in the food industry to produce invert sugar syrup. Very schematically, it starts with a sucrose syrup and is subjected to the action of invertase. As a result, you get a glucose and fructose solution known as invert sugar syrup or simply invert syrup (sometimes the name Trimoline is used® a brand name).

The name invert sugar is due to the fact that a sucrose solution produces a clockwise rotation of polarized light rays, while an invert sugar solution produces a clockwise rotation.

Invert sugar can also be obtained by acid hydrolysis at high temperatures or by the action of sulfonic resins. At an industrial level, it is normally prepared by a mixture of several processes, usually by enzymatic catalysis at slightly acidic pH (≈5) and medium temperatures (≈60 ºC). Under these conditions, the hydrolysis of sucrose is rapid and the required amount of invertase can be reduced.

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Invert sugar has the following characteristics:

30% more sweetener than sucrose Less crystallization at low temperatures Retains more moisture Facilitates yeast fermentation

These properties are used in the food industry, especially in bakery, bakery and pastry products. Invert sugar gives these products more sweetness, but the highlight is that it prolongs their shelf life by not crystallizing as easily and keeping them softer for longer due to greater moisture retention.

It is also used in the manufacture of honey substitutes. In this case, invert sugar is obtained by acid catalysis using potassium bitartrate as an acidulant, as this substance produces aromas reminiscent of honey. Potassium bitartrate is also known as cream of tartar or cream of tartar, but not to be confused with sauce of tartar.

Invert sugar is also appreciated in homemade baking. It can be purchased ready-to-use or prepared with syrup and lemon juice. Finding invertase for your home can be very difficult to obtain, expensive, and yet it is a chemical that needs to be handled very carefully.

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