Packing in nutrition
Although gluten-free baked goods have improved in eating quality, the ingredient systems used to mimic the taste and texture of gluten-containing products aren’t always the most nutritious. Fortifying gluten-free foods to make them more nutritious was the second frontier. This is especially important for people whose bodies could have issues absorbing nutrients, such as those who suffer from celiac disease.
To serve these specific needs, Watson, Inc. developed a gluten-free fortification pre-blend, which delivers 15% of the daily value of 10 essential vitamins nutritionists recommend those with celiac disease need daily.
“As gluten-free consumers continue to demand healthier products, we believe that fortification remains a cost-effective method to achieve nutritional goals,” said Sarah Watson, gluteNONE associate brand manager, Watson.
In an effort to produce gluten-free flours that also could be clean label friendly, Bay State Milling focused on nutrient-rich flours made from grains other than wheat. The company turned to ancient grains to fulfill this goal: millet, sorghum, rice, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, corn and teff.
For whole grain nutrition, Bay State Milling developed a line of sprouted grains and seeds.
“These products offer the nutritional benefits of whole grain and seed and improved flavor characteristics that come along with the sprouting process,” Mr. Ward said. This product line includes brown rice, chia, quinoa, flax, sorghum and millet.
Seeds used to add visual appeal and texture can also add nutrition. Bay State Milling offers a line of seeds that also will deliver some nutritional benefit while remaining gluten-free: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax and chia.
Ingredion also turned to nutritionally superior base ingredients to create gluten-free flours. The company offers pulse flours made with yellow pea flour, yellow lentils, faba bean, red lentils and chickpeas.
“These products are non-G.M.O., hypoallergenic, low fat, low glycemic, have high micronutrient content and can be used in vegetarian and gluten-free food solutions,” Mr. Rodriguez said.
Formulating for freshness
A gluten-free loaf of bread mimics the taste, texture and nutrition of its conventional counterpart on the shelf. However, the gluten-containing loaf will outlast the gluten-free. Shelf life is an issue that continues to hound producers of these products.
“The biggest challenge is managing the high raw material costs versus wheat-based breads and managing and controlling returns of stale product,” said Michael Saulsberry, vice-president of bakery, Watson.
It is not uncommon to find these products in the frozen or refrigerated section of the grocery store. Modified Atmospheric Packaging also has been a solution bakers have turned to keep their products fresher for longer. This packaging eliminates the need to freeze gluten-free foods, but it is a more expensive and complex packaging solution.
To save bakers on packaging costs, Watson developed several solutions to help extend the life of gluten-free products. The company made an all-natural, gluten-free preservative that prevents mold growth.
“This unique product is made from cultured brown rice to provide a naturally derived source of propionic acid combined with acidulates to lower the pH, extending the mold-free shelf-life under ambient storage conditions,” Mr. Saulsberry explained.
For a longer shelf life and maintaining product softness, Watson offers a gluten-free enzyme-based softener; the rice-based enzyme extends freshness.
While gluten-free as a trend may be slowing down, it’s not going away, and even though consumers seem pleased with the quality of gluten-free baked goods today, competition in the marketplace is keeping bakers on their toes. Food scientists continue to work with bakers to strive for ever-improved gluten-free baked goods that can deliver on taste, texture, nutrition and shelf life.
Find resources for gluten-free formulating by visiting www.esourcebaking.com. Browse by category under Ingredients, and click on Systems for listings.