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What Is the Difference Between Blending and Mixing?

What Is the Difference Between Blending and Mixing?

Aren’t Mixing and Blending the Same Thing?

Blending and mixing are two of the most critical processes in food manufacturing and other industries. They are used in everything from the cement builders used to make your house to the loaf of bread you ate this morning.

They usually mean the same thing in everyday language, but did you know that blending and mixing are actually two distinct operations?

Although the differences are very subtle, they do have something in common. Both combine two or more different substances, but the similarities end there.

Is there really a difference between blending and mixing?

Mixing is generally concerned with many different substances put together to form a new product. In the context of food, mixing involves both dry and wet ingredients.

Think of when you mix water, yeast, sugar, and flour to make a dough. Or moist ground beef and dry breadcrumbs to make meatballs. The mixing operation is usually a comprehensive one—you want to make the result as homogenous as possible.

Other food products that use mixing include:

  • Noodles
  • Bread
  • Sauces
  • Canned soup

What is the process of blending?

Blending entails mixing only dry ingredients. Think of how pancake mix is made. It’s usually a blend of many different dry components (flour, salt, sugar, starches, etc.). Or how we describe tea or coffee “blends,” which is nothing more than combining different varieties of tea leaves or coffee beans together. Powder blending is used to create fine powders with the perfect ratio of ingredients.

Sometimes blending involves a small amount of liquid, such as when producing granules. So long as the majority of the ingredients are dry, it is still a blending process.

Blending is a gentler process than mixing. The aim is to create a uniform distribution of each component in the final blend. It’s not to mish-mash all the ingredients together. Most industrial-grade blenders make it a point to minimize ingredient contact with the blender’s blades.

Examples of products which are made by blending include:

  • Powder Mixes (such as pancake mix)
  • Spices (such as curry)
  • Granules (such as instant coffee)
  • Powdered drinks

Why is blending necessary?

Proper blending is a necessary process to create a consistent product. Imagine if the process of blending cake mix wasn’t adequately controlled. You might get an overly sweet cake with one box, and a coarse, gritty product with another. This is because the ratio of flour or sugar would vary wildly with each batch produced if they weren’t blended well.

To achieve proper blending, using the right equipment is essential. There are lots of options on the market, but one of the most effective is the convection blender.

This machine uses a rotating element, such as a ribbon, to rapidly move the dry ingredients around. Unlike your blender at home, it doesn’t use blades that “cut” through the particles and thus is not as damaging. Each batch is also electronically controlled to ensure proper consistency.

Final Thoughts

The next time you make your instant coffee or sip that afternoon tea, be sure to appreciate the magic of blending and mixing!

What Is Food Formulation?

What Is Food Formulation?

You May Have The Best Recipe in the World, But Have You Really Perfected Your Food Product?

Ever wondered what went into producing that can of mushroom soup or that pack of delicious macaroni and cheese? These are all the results of food formulation.

This is a multi-step process that takes a food idea from conception to the grocery aisle. While simple in theory, it involves a lot of innovation, technique, and trial and error.

The process is the same whether you call it food formulation, product formulation, or food product design.

Let’s take a quick look at what goes into this fascinating process

What is the Food Formulation Process?

It’s important to follow all the necessary steps when creating new food product designs, to ensure it’s good and it can be produced on a large scale.

  1. It Starts with an Idea

It’s a grim fact that new food products launched into the market have an 80 percent failure rate. This statistic is why most food brands make it a point to iron out their idea before going further. The marketing team helms this process and bases it on data from market research and competitor analysis.

  1. Test Recipe

The next step is to do an initial test recipe and see if it creates a good product. This is so that they can see what the final product will look and taste like. Often, this is done in small batches, so it’s cheap and quick to make any revisions.

  1. Sensory Tests

The prototype is then sent for sensory evaluation. A team of talented tasters does this. The professionals will judge every aspect of the food product from taste and texture to the overall presentation. They will then notify the test kitchen team of any changes. If the product is up to par, then it will undergo a pilot batch

  1. Pilot Batch

The pilot batch is usually a step up in size from the test batch and is used to see how well the recipe will perform on a slightly larger scale. Mistakes are spotted and corrected at this point.

Product specifications are also monitored to ensure consistency. This is needed to minimize any errors before committing to a commercial batch. Further sensory tests may be done until everyone is happy with the final product.

  1. Consumer Test

One final step before a full product launch is to do consumer testing. Here, random people from the product’s target market judge the product. They might be asked to describe it freely, or against a set number of criteria. Once the feedback is in, the company will decide to either push through with the product or make necessary changes.

Consumer testing is a necessary step in the food formulation process because it’s an actual test of what the market thinks of the product. It eliminates any bias that might arise from internal testing and gives a good gauge of success.

  1. Launch!

With a successful prototype, the company will now go into production scale. Marketing for the product will also increase, and distribution channels will be tapped. All of this is in preparation for the last stage of product formulation – launching it.

The company may also opt to protect their food recipe at this point (Interested in protecting your food recipe? Read an interesting article here.)

But the process doesn’t stop there. Once launched, the performance of the product will be continually monitored. Things will be revised as needed. The truth is, food formulation is less of a linear process and more of a life cycle.