What is vanaspati ?Can palm oil be used in its formulation?

Vanaspati is a homogenous blend of ediblevegetable oils such as cottonseed oil, soybean oil, palm oil, rice-bran oil,maize oil and mahua oil, which are refined to remove impurities and colour,deodorized to remove odour in oils and hydrogenated to form a nutritious andpure cooking fat.Only vegetable oils are permitted invanaspati.

Vanaspati is a cooking fat originallydeveloped as an alternative to the traditional butter fat ghee. Vanaspati issemi solid and has a coarse granular structure at ambient temperature withcrystals 1-2 mm in size, but is usually required to have a melting point of37°C - 39° C. To the housewives, vanaspati offers distinct advantages. Foodcooked in vanaspati has no characteristic flavour of edible oils. It has longershelf-life and therefore, can be kept for a longer period. Some sweets andconfectionery items of daily use which require a hard fat can only be made withvanaspati and not with liquid oils or ghee. Originally vanaspati was made fromhydrogenated vegetable oils but hydrogenation is a fairly costly process andproduces undesirable trans fatty acids.

Palm oil has similar physicalcharacteristics to vanaspati such as melting point of about 36°C and semi-solidconsistency at ambient temperature, and although it does not naturally developthe desired granular appearance, this can be improved by interesterification.

Formulations based on interesterifiedblends of palm oil and its products (especially palm stearin) with a variety ofother vegetable oils have been tested byPORIM with good results. All thetested samples were similar to the conventional hydrogenated vanaspati withrespect to melting characteristics and physical appearance, includinggranulation and phase separation but most important, they were free of transfattty acids.

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