Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry vol:52 issue:12 pages:3780-3783
Inulin (general formulas GF(n) and F-m with G = anhydroglucose and F = anhydrofructose) naturally occurs as a homologous series of oligo- and polysaccharides with different chain lengths. For reasons of growing interest in the food and pet food industries, the short chain inulins have to be separated from their long chain analogues because their properties (digestibility, prebiotic activity and health promoting potential, caloric value, sweetening power, water binding capacity, etc.) differ substantially. To study these properties in relation to the number average degree of polymerization (DPn), ultrafiltration, specific crystallization from aqueous solution, and precipitation from solvent/water mixtures were used to enrich native chicory and dahlia inulin in the higher molecular weight fractions. Depending on the membrane module used, the DPn of chicory inulin (DPn = 8.1) and dahlia inulin (DPn = 29) could be increased by ultrafiltration to a maximum value of, respectively, 22 and 43. With crystallization from aqueous solutions (25 degreesC), similar results were obtained but at a much higher yield. Finally, long chain inulin could be precipitated from aqueous solutions in the presence of high concentrations of methanol, ethanol, and acetone. Acetone demonstrated to be the best solvent system to increase the DPn, followed by ethanol and methanol. However, for safety reasons and food purposes, ethanol was evaluated to be the best choice. With ethanol, the DPn could be raised to 25 for chicory inulin and up to 40 for dahlia inulin.