Food structures and properties

Last changed: 09 April 2024

We characterize the food raw material, food products as well as bio-based food material by different physico-chemical and structural methods from molecule to macro levels. The overall objective is to design structures with targeted properties, to be applied in food or/and bio-based materials.


Our research expertise is on:

  • The relationship between microstructure and product (food and bio-based materials) quality
  • Design food processes to achieve desired food product properties
  • Create microstructures by optimized/designed processing for healthy and tasty foods 
  • Design bio-based materials (additives and composites) with desired functions and properties
  • Study interaction/degradation of the microstructures and bio-based materials with external environmental conditions, including body assimilation
  • Exploitation of biomass for recovering biopolymers and nanoparticles


Overall research aims, methods and equipment

The overall aim is to determine the impact of raw material and process conditions for the products microstructure, and to be able to relate this to the characteristics of the products. 



Group members

Head of unit

  • Professor Maud Langton


  • Galia Zamaratskaia, Assoc. prof.
  • Saeid Karkehabadi, PhD
  • Henrik Hansson, PhD
  • Hanna Eriksson Röhnisch, PhD

Post docs

  • Jing Lu, PhD
  • Anja Herneke, PhD
  • Klara Nilsson, PhD

PhD students

  • Solja Pietiäinen
  • Mathias Johansson
  • Jaqueline Auer
  • Johanna Östlund
  • Alejandra Castaneda

August T. Larsson Guest Researcher

  • Kati Katina, Professor, Grain Science and Technology, Department of Food and Nutrition, University of Helsinki, Finland

Guest Professor

  • Oksana Kravchenko, Poltava State Agrarian University (PSAU)


  • Kristine Koch
  • Daniel Johansson
  • Rosana Moriana
  • Daniel García García
  • Xinran Liu (Sherry)
  • Mohammed Salaheldin Mustafa Elhassan 
  • Jing Li
  • Vassileios Varelas
  • Patricia López-Sánchez 
  • José Luis Vázquez-Gutiérrez
  • Thomas Steglich
  • Carolin Menzel
  • Agnes Wahlsten
  • Fanny Knab
  • Louise Lundquist
  • Rebecka Sterner
  • Moa Rönnhagen
  • Katrin Müller (ETH)

Fractionation of wheat bran to create functional ingredients (Solja Pietiäinen's project)

Arabinoxylan (AX) is an important functional component in baked products affecting water binding and holding, rheology and starch retrogradation that could be used as a bakery ingredient to improve bread quality. In this project we investigate how to increase AX extractability and how extraction affects the properties of AX with the aim at possible fractionation of wheat bran on industrial scale to generate AX.

Graphical abstract

Mixed gel-systems (Mathias Johansson's project)

This project aims at an increased knowledge of the interplay between different macromolecules related to structure formation, especially gel formation with the focus on proteins and other compunds extracted from  Faba bean.

Graphical abstract

  • The ability to tailor properties for specific applications
  • Allowing utilization of a larger part of the bean
  • Facilitate the development of novel plant-based foods based on non-soy legumes
  • Support the shift towards a more sustainable food system

Mathias Johansson – PhD student in texture and microstructure of plant-based foods at SLU

Structure and digestibility of plant-based proteins in relation to processing (Jaqueline Auer's project)

The project is in collaboration with the highly interdisciplinary research centre of PAN Sweden where the aim is to couple material science with food and medical science to clarify the relationship between processing, food microstructure, bioavailability, digestion and fermentation on health. The obtained knowledge should lead to the production of more sustainable food products with improved nutritional value, texture and flavour.

Graphical abstract

YouTube video: Structure and digestability of plant-based proteins


Jaqueline Auer – PhD student in structure and digestability of plant-based proteins at SLU

Plant-based Fermented food from Nordic raw materials (Alejandra Fernandez's Project)

Interest in the consumption of plant-based foods is growing, and in line with this, consumers have a higher demand for more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and nutritious foods. From a sustainability and human health perspective, this is a positive trend. Replacing soy with local alternatives generally means a shift to more sustainable production/consumption.

The project aims to establish a relationship between processing (heat treatment and fermentation) and the nutritional and sensory quality of a product from local raw materials. In this project, a tempeh-like product with high consumer acceptance will be developed from locally grown faba beans in combination with oats to optimize the amino acid composition. Specific aims:

  • To screen and identify microfungi- zygomyceteous filamentous fungi and yeasts- that can be used for faba bean- and oat- fermentations
  • To generate prototypes of tempeh using consortia of appropriate microfungi, determine the impact of using different microbial consortia and different mixtures of faba beans and oat.
  • To investigate microstructure, rheology, biochemical and mechanical properties of the prototypes
  • To evaluate consumer acceptance of the product

project description


New plant based yoghurts from faba beans and oats (Johanna Östlund's project)

Faba bean and oat have been recognised as suitable crops for production of plant-based yoghurt. The aim of this project is to establish and optimise a workflow from the raw crops to final yoghurt, for increased consumer acceptability. 

  • Pre-treatments of faba bean and oat, e.g. heat treatment, enzymatic treatment and pulsed electric field (PEF) and the effect on structural-, rheological-, and nutritional properties
  • Screening of yoghurt cultures and the effect of fermentation on microbial composition and structural-, rheological-, and nutritional properties
  • Designing food prototypes and assessment of their sensory profiles

Joanna's project overview

Physiochemical properties of Faba bean starch (Klara Nilsson's project)

The major part of the faba bean is starch. This project aims at characterising the ratio amylose:amylopectin, protein, fat, ash and moisture


Graphical abstract for a Faba bean starch project

Physical parameters that will be studied:
Structure: particle size -> using SEM, crystallinity with XRD (X-Ray Difraction)
Thermalproperties: DSC & HSMO, samples will also be stored to see effect of “retrogradation”.
Textural and visual properties
Clarity -> Spectrophotometry
Pasting profile -> rheometer and gelation -> RVA
Starch aging; creep, texture analyser and synerisis

Plant-based protein nanofibrils (Anja Herneke's project)

Plant-based protein nanofibrils (PNF)

This project aims to get a better understanding of plant-based protein nanofibrils (PNFs) and how these can be used for future food applications.

Graphical abstract

  • Protein extraction and characterization from plant-based sources (e.g. fava bean, mung bean, lupin, oat, rapeseed)
  • Producing plant-based PNFs (pH 2, 85 °C)
  • Characterization of PNFs, (secondary structure, morphology and interactions)
  • Investigating the microstructural and mechanical properties of the PNFs in higher-order systems
  • Use the knowledge of plant-based PNFs to create new sustainable food applications
  • Publications:

Other projects

  • Gelation of faba bean proteins - for the development of new plant based foods from swedish crops

  • Effect of oat bran particle size in bread on β-glucan molecular weight, solubility and in vitro viscosity

  • Tailored Carbohydrate Quality for Personalized Weight Management and Metabolic Health (Carb-Q-4-Health), WP3 - Food structure-sateity

  • Plant-based proteins for health and wellbeing (PAN Sweden), WP1 - Protein Characteristics

  • Advancing food structure, processing and function with MAX IV and ESS for a sustainable food system "Fork to Farm" - Food Structure and Properties

  • Wood to feed

  • Insects as food

SUSplant: A new collaboration project to facilitate the shift towards healthy sustainable diets

For many years, there has been a steady growth in consumer concerns about the environmental sustainability of the global food supply, animal welfare issues, and ethics concerns about meat eating habits, and human health consequences of meat consumption. Consumer acceptance for plant-based foods is growing and industry sectors focused on plant-based foods are expanding. The UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) are driving governments, business companies, researchers and individuals to find the best ways to adjust their practices to secure a sustainable future by 2030.

A new collaboration project in the Baltic Sea region, “Plant-based diet to ensure progress towards sustainable production and consumption”, will examine the attitudes of meat consumption as well as the readiness of consumers and food producers toward the consumption/production of meat analogues in Ukraine and Moldova.

The project is financially supported by Swedish Institute (SI), project number 00122/2022.

Saeid Karkehabadi and Galia Zamaratskaia from the Department of Molecular Sciences, SLU, are leading this project, and the project team also include Swedish organisations RISE and Kristianstad University, and international partners Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, The National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine and State Agrarian University of Moldova. Moreover, food producing companies from Ukraine and Moldova are important partners in the project.

SLU news article for more information

SUSplant group members on a zoom call

The participants of the first online kick-off meeting 30 September 2022

Recent activities

Stability of Ultra High Temperature milk 

  • Jing Lu; doctoral thesis ”Impact of sampling month and processing and storage conditions on UHT milk Stability”
  • Maria Karlsson; doctoral thesis “Stability of ultra-high temperature treated milk – The effect of raw milk quality, storage temperature and storage time”



Maud Langton
Professor at the Department of Molecular Sciences; Matens strukturer och egenskaper 

Telephone: 018-671983

Postal address:
Institutionen för molekylära vetenskaper
 Box 7015 
750 07 Uppsala 
Visiting address: Almas Allé 5, BioCentrum, Ultuna Uppsala