Nothing says it’s the holiday season like the arrival of all the delicious foods, treats, and beverages that go along with it. Whether it’s savory ham or turkey, sweet holiday favorites like candy canes or chocolates, or the universally loved eggnog, these foods and beverages help make the holidays merry and bright! However, more goes into each of these items than you might realize. More than butter and seasoning, your favorite holiday treat would not be complete without the help of food additives. Check out just a sampling of what you can expect to see during this year’s holiday festivities below!
The main course at any holiday feast often comes down to a delicious plate of ham or turkey. Nothing is better on a cold, snowy evening than a flavorful, tender cut of meat shared around a table filled with friends and family. That tender flavor is brought to life with the help of additives that act as tenderizers. For example, ficin is an enzyme that is derived from fig trees, while Bromelin is an enzyme that comes from pineapple fruit and leaves. These additives can help dissolve or degrade proteins to soften meat and poultry tissue.
You might be shocked, but candy canes don’t just come with that classic red stripe included – it has to be added! Thanks to the help of certified colors, that stripe is made possible. Certified color additives, like the ones used to create the classic bright red stripes on candy canes, have been used in foods for over 50 years. They are also often used to balance and enhance colors that already occur naturally in foods. Certified colors are synthetically produced under strict safety conditions and help deliver bright, consistent color to your favorite holiday treats.
The holiday season couldn’t be complete without another delicious candy and dessert ingredient – chocolate, of course! From chocolate bars to chocolate truffles, if you check the ingredient list, you’re likely going to see soy lecithin included. Lecithin is a type of fat typically derived from soybeans or eggs and is used to improve the texture and mouthfeel of chocolate, allowing for the smooth, rich experience that consumers expect of the final product. In the case of soy lecithin, once soybeans are harvested, they are crushed to produce a variety of products, including oil. Soy lecithin is produced by mixing soybean oil with hot water and centrifuging the mixture to separate the lecithin. Over the holidays, soy lecithin helps your molded chocolates keep their shape and sheen and ensures bell-shaped peanut butter cups have a substantial chocolate coating.
Beyond the main course and the desserts, we certainly can’t forget the classic holiday beverages that stock our local grocery store refrigerators this time of year. Eggnog is a time-old tradition during the holidays, and it is through the help of food additives that it maintains its sweet and creamy texture. Carrageenan is a versatile food additive that helps stabilize and thicken foods or beverages.
Have more questions about food additives? Learn more here.