Introduction To Carrageenan – Milk

Figure 1. Carrageenan and milk proteins

Milk protein Interactions

Probably the best-known synergistic carrageenan interaction is that involving milk proteins. Some of the first uses of carrageenan were in milk gels and flans, and in the stabilisation of evaporated milk and ice cream mixes. In these applications, the kappa carrageenan forms a weak gel in the aqueous phase and it interacts with positively charged amino acids in the proteins at the surface of the casein micelles. The specific kappa carrageenan-kappa casein interaction is shown diagrammatically.

Very low levels of 150-250ppm of carrageenan are sufficient to prevent whey separation from a range of dairy products during manufacture and storage. These include ice cream and milk shake mixes, cream cheese, and dairy desserts. In chocolate milks, this low level of carrageenan is able to prevent separation and generate a stabilising network, which maintains the cocoa particles in suspension.

Further information on carrageenan structure, sources, production and synergy can be accessed using the arrows in the Further Reading box below.