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Context: my father habitually eats a particular brand of free-from olive oil butter substitute; it's an emulsion of oils in water (as far as I can tell). One of this brand's big selling points is the lack of additives. The brand's getting hard to find and he's struggling to find an alternative which doesn't use an emulsifier.

Question: from my reading, it looks like stable emulsions always require some kind of emulsifier to separate the oil droplets. Otherwise they'll recombine and the emulsion will break down over time. However, this particular brand claims not to have one. So how is this stuff possible?

The ingredients list is:

Vegetable oils (rapeseed, olive (16%), palm), water, salt, 'natural flavourings', vitamin E, 'natural colour' (carotenes)

I'm in the EU, so that has to be a complete list of ingredients --- it may be theoretically possible for them to sneak something in via 'natural flavourings' but if it were a critical ingredient I don't believe they would be allowed to get away with it. So, either:

  • one of the other ingredients acts as an emulsifier as a side effect (I know that soya oil contains lecithin, so maybe one of the other oils is acting like this) (also this means they're being disingenuous with the ingredients list)

  • they've come up with some way to produce a stable oil-in-water emulsion via purely mechanical means.

I'm particularly interested if the latter case is true because I'd like to investigate making it as a DIY thing --- the brand is harder to find, remember!

(The product is, BTW, a complete generic pale yellow butteroid and is quite stable at room temperature. On heating it turns into a cloudy yellow watery liquid with clear oil droplets on the surface. The colouring only affects the water phase.)

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  • $\begingroup$ You´ve already answered most of your question (i.e. both of your bullet point are correct). The DIY thing is going to be tricky, they are not just using a simple kitchen mixer i guess. ;) $\endgroup$ – Karl Jan 2 at 12:49

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