: In this study, freeze-drying microencapsulation was proposed as a technology for the production of powdered hop extracts with high stability intended as additives/ingredients in innovative formulated food products. The effects of different carriers (maltodextrin, Arabic gum, and their mixture in 1:1 w/w ratio) on the physical and techno-functional properties, bitter acids content, yield and polyphenols encapsulation efficiency of the powders were assessed. Additionally, the powders' stability was evaluated for 35 days at different temperatures and compared with that of non-encapsulated extract. Coating materials influenced the moisture content, water activity, colour, flowability, microstructure, and water sorption behaviour of the microencapsulates, but not their solubility. Among the different carriers, maltodextrin showed the lowest polyphenol load yield and bitter acid content after processing but the highest encapsulation efficiency and protection of hop extracts' antioxidant compounds during storage. Irrespective of the encapsulating agent, microencapsulation did not hinder the loss of bitter acids during storage. The results of this study demonstrate the feasibility of freeze-drying encapsulation in the development of functional ingredients, offering new perspectives for hop applications in the food and non-food sectors.
Alessandro Di Michele
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