Linda Kragt, director, technical services, Morton Salt, Chicago, identified salty taste as the important functional role of both sodium and potassium chloride, followed by controlling yeast gassing and strengthening gluten. She provided insight into the baking performance of sodium chloride and potassium chloride in this exclusive Q&A with Baking & Snack.

Baking & Snack: What types of salt does Morton Salt offer that could help cut sodium in baked foods and snacks?

Linda Kragt: Morton Salt offers an extensive portfolio of specialty salts for the baking and snack industry. These include the salt alternative, potassium chloride, as well as variety of snack toppings. We market a granulated potassium chloride which is suitable for addition to baked goods when combined with salt (sodium chloride).

Potassium chloride has a mixed taste profile so should be used with regular salt to provide an optimal taste. When using potassium chloride, start at a level up to 25% substitution. Higher levels of potassium chloride in bland products such as bread may impart off-tastes depending upon the formula. For snack toppings, processors may select a slightly finer salt to provide a greater initial saltiness impact or release of saltiness.

 What is it about these products that enables lowering of sodium content?

Potassium chloride is very low in sodium but has similar physical properties to regular salt which can help to restore functionality when salt is reduced. These functional affects include: 1) imparting saltiness taste, 2) controlling yeast gassing, 3) strengthening gluten.

Furthermore, potassium is a necessary nutrient present at suboptimal levels in most American diets prompting nutrition authorities to recommend increasing consumption. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines advise adults to consumer 4,700 mg potassium/day. Potassium chloride contains 52.4% potassium, making it a concentrated source of this essential mineral.

What scientific or application research supports this reduction?

We have been conducting application research on sodium reduction for over 40 years. Some of our earliest research in sodium reduction was conducted on white bread. We found that the use of potassium chloride at levels up to 50% substitution had no differences in bread volume, bread scoring or staling rate. As for snack toppings, our recent sensory research using a descriptive analysis panel confirms that finer salt grades or grades that have more surface area such as a dendritic salt provide a greater saltiness intensity than coarser grades.

What should the formulator know about successfully taking baked foods and snacks made with your ingredients from the bench to the production floor?

Since potassium chloride is less inhibiting to yeast activity than sodium chloride, the proof time may have to be adjusted unless there are minor reductions in yeast, yeast foods or sweeteners.