Production of a stable blend of casein and plant proteins with improved physical and flavor characteristics

This process creates a stable, desirable blend of casein and plant proteins that includes improvements on the physical and flavor characteristics of the blend. It has applications in areas such as dairy production, fitness supplements, and foods. With improved stability, flavor, and physical characteristics, it represents a needed improvement over current methods of casein and plant protein blending.

The Need

Food proteins have countless biological purposes, and the demand for protein has steadily increased in recent years. Meanwhile, however, dairy consumption has been decreasing. Dairy producers must therefore innovate in order to attract customers. Using currently available methods, the combination of casein, a popular milk protein, and plant proteins results in an unstable solution. This is due to several incompatibilities and the different solubilities of the two protein types. These differences create a blend in which the proteins, over time, precipitate or coagulate, which is undesirable from both a producer's and customer's point of view. A method of blending these two protein types that results in a more stable, desirable product is therefore needed.

The Technology

Dr. Rafael Jimenez-Flores and his colleagues have developed a novel method of homogenization for casein and plant protein blends. Their method combines micelles of casein, a protein found in milk, with chia seed protein. To create the blend, the researchers began with skim milk, lowered the temperature of the milk, and added sodium nitrate in order to allow the casein micelles to dissociate. They then extracted soluble chia powder from microfine chia powder and subsequently precipitated and extracted the fiber, starch material, and pericarp from the soluble chia powder. The supernatant containing said chia powder was then added to the skim milk, and the resulting solution was homogenized under a low temperature and relatively high pressure.

The blends created by Dr. Rafael Jimenez-Flores and colleagues are advantageous for several reasons. As recited, a primary drawback to combining casein and plant protein is the stability of such blends; the proteins often coagulate and precipitate over time, resulting in an undesirable product. This technology avoids this undesirable characteristic, creating a stable protein dispersion where the caseins behave more as they would in milk. Further, the product improves on the flavor characteristics of previous attempts to create a product with these two protein types. These benefits make the blending method a significant improvement over the current methods in the field. This unique blending process may have several useful commercial applications in a time of increased demand for protein and decreased consumption of dairy.

Commercial Applications

  • Dairy products, specifically milk
  • Protein drinks and protein supplements
  • Nutritional therapy


  • Stable
  • Improved flavor
  • Improved physical characteristics

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