Low-fat food products often contain natural, edible polymers to retain the desired mouth feel and elasticity of their full-fat counterparts. This type of product, however, can suffer from syneresis: densification due to the expulsion of fluid. Gaining insight into the physical principles governing syneresis in such soft hybrid dispersions remains a challenge from a theoretical perspective, as experimental data are needed to establish a basis. We record non-accelerated syneresis in a model system for low-fat mayonnaise: a colloid polymer mixture, consisting of oil in water emulsion with starch in the aqueous phase. We find the flow rate of expelled fluid to be proportional to the difference in hydrostatic pressure over the system. The osmotic pressure of the added starch, while being higher than the hydrostatic pressure, does not prevent syneresis because the soluble starch is lost to the expelled fluid. From these findings, we conclude that forced syneresis in these systems can be described as a gravity-driven porous flow through the densely packed emulsion, explainable with a model based on Darcy's law.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) , European Research Council (ERC)
Soft Matter
Theory of Biomolecular Matter

Wu, Q., Punter, M., Kodger, T., Arnaudov, L., Mulder, B., Stoyanov, S., & van der Gucht, J. (2019). Gravity-driven syneresis in model low-fat mayonnaise. Soft Matter, 15(46), 9474–9481. doi:10.1039/c9sm01097a