Polysaccharides and proteins are frequently conjugated through electrostatic attraction, enzymatic cross-linking, and heat treatment (Maillard reaction) to obtain food structuring ingredients, mostly for their application as emulsifiers. The conjugate partners and their interaction type affect performance at acidic or neutral pH and during thermal processing, thus requiring careful selection. Here, the aggregate properties (particle size, conjugate charge, shear viscosity) of three types of sugar beet pectin (SBP)-sodium caseinate (SC) 1:1 conjugates, at acidic and neutral pH (4.5; 7), as well as their thermal processing stability (80 °C), were investigated. The enzymatically cross-linked SBP:SC was more acid tolerant than the electrostatically interacting conjugates. Maillard cross-linked conjugates aggregated at pH 4.5, suggesting poor emulsifier performance in acidic conditions. At pH 7, the three conjugate types showed similar aggregate properties. The results are discussed in terms of structural re-arrangement.
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