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Inulin fiber

La fibra di inulina
Inulin is a plant fiber and is mainly extracted from the roots of plants such as chicory and Jerusalem artichoke, which are rich in this plant fiber. The inulin extraction process involves several steps:

Root Harvesting: Roots are harvested from plants, usually during the peak growing season when inulin content is highest.

Cleaning and preparation: The roots are carefully cleaned to remove any residual soil and other impurities. They can also be cut or shredded to facilitate the subsequent extraction process.

Inulin Extraction: The prepared roots are then subjected to an extraction process to extract the inulin. This process can occur using hot water or organic solvents, such as ethanol. Inulin is soluble in water, which makes it easier to extract.

Concentration and purification: The extracted inulin is then concentrated to increase its quantity and purity. This can occur through water evaporation processes or separation through filtration or centrifugation.

Drying: Finally, the concentrated and purified inulin is dried to the desired form, usually in powder or concentrated liquid form.

The inulin extraction process can vary slightly, depending on the plant source and the specific techniques used by the manufacturer. 

In the world of gluten-free foods, inulin plays several important roles. One of its main advantages is to improve the consistency and structure of gluten-free products. It can be used as a thickening and stabilizing agent in products such as bread, biscuits, cakes and other baked goods, improving texture and hold.

Inulin is mainly produced in regions such as Europe and North America, with Belgium, France, Canada and the United States among the largest producers and exporters. It is often imported in powder or liquid extract form and used by gluten-free food manufacturers around the world.

Compared to other fibers used in the preparation of gluten-free foods, such as guar gum or xanthan gum, inulin offers unique advantages. While guar gum and xanthan gum are primarily thickeners and stabilizers, inulin also provides prebiotic benefits for digestive health.

Furthermore, inulin has a neutral taste and does not significantly alter the flavor of foods, making it ideal for use in a wide range of gluten-free products, without compromising their original flavour. It can also be used as a sugar substitute in some gluten-free products, as it has a lower sweetening power and a low impact on blood sugar concentrations.

Another important characteristic of inulin is its fermentable nature, which means it can be used as a substrate by beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, contributing to healthy gut flora and bowel regularity.

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