Konjac Man

Konjac mannan is the principal component of konjac flour, the product of commerce. Konjac flour, the powdered tuber of Amorphophallus konjac, is used primarily in Japan to make a gelled food product, in noodles, and as a fat replacer.

Konjac mannan is a glucomannan. It is a linear polymer of /?-d-mannopyranosyl and ^-d-glucopyranosyl (ratio 1.6:1.0) units all linked (l-»4). Removal of some of the naturally occurring acetate ester groups with alkali is required for gelation.

Konjac flour is cold-water swelling but hydrates only slowly in room-temperature water, so unlike many other gum products, it disperses easily in water. As the particle size is reduced, the time required for hydration and dissolution is reduced. When fully hydrated, it forms solutions of high viscosity and pseudoplasticity.

Konjac mannan, by itself, when deacetylated, forms elastic gels that are stable in boiling water. In fact, gel strength increases reversibly on heating. This accounts for its traditional use in the stabilization of noodles that can ch2oh

ch2—choh cho

Figure 4. A representative /?-D-glucopyranosyl unit of cellulose containing a hydroxypropyl group or a poly(propylene oxide) chain (n = 0, 1, 2, 3, etc).

be cooked in an autoclave. In addition, konjac mannan exhibits a strong synergism with agar and /c-carrageenan, forming elastic, thermally reversible gels after heating and cooling. It also will form a gel via synergistic interaction with xanthan and interacts synergistically with starches to increase viscosity and form heat-stable gels. Strong edible films can be made with konjac mannan as the base.

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