Formulators can choose among several low-sodium and no-sodium chemical leavening systems. In this exclusive Baking & Snack Q&A, Jesse Weilert, manager of bakery applications, Corbion Caravan, Lenexa, KS, describes options and examines the choice between a single replacement baking soda vs. tailored baking powders.

Baking & Snack: When do low-sodium approaches make sense, and when is it better to opt for the tried-and-true conventional products?

Jesse Weilert: The decision to use a low-sodium approach vs. a traditional formula is driven by the needs of the customer and the potential value that this style of product provides. As with most formula changes, cost and functionality are always important.

Of the healthier options being built into formulas these days, sodium reduction has particularly high cost hurdles. Remember that a simple reduction of salt in a formula will cost you money due to salt being cheaper than the average ingredient bowl cost.

Alternatives are available at a much higher cost. This cost makes industry-wide sodium reduction challenging from a financial perspective and has led to adopting low-sodium approaches when customers, laws, and sales potential drive the decision process.

What do bakery formulators need to know about putting these ingredients to work today?

When considering low-sodium formulations, all developers should start with the obvious question of “what is the needed sodium reduction target?” This then leads to the more complex question of “how to best get to the needed reduction?”

If modest reductions (up to 20%) are needed, there are typically adjustments to the current formula levels of salt and leavening that can be used to reach the target with little need for utilizing low sodium technology. However, when more aggressive reductions are required, the use of low-sodium components become necessary to keep product quality in line with the current offering.

Improved technology is making it easier to convert from traditional systems to these low-sodium components, but care still needs to be taken to ensure process, product and shelf life performance are not jeopardized.

For chemical leavening, options such as potassium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate (in limited applications), calcium acid pyrophosphate (CAPP), SALP vs. SAPP, encapsulated components (such as monocalcium phosphate) and even certain organic acids can be used to reduce the amount of sodium contributed.

If individual components are being used, rates of reaction and neutralizing values need to be used to create an initial formula that provides the needed gassing, the proper timing of the gas generation and a system that will balance to neutral when all the reaction takes place.

It is less complex to use baking powders that have been designed with low sodium in mind. These systems, such as Corbion Caravan's Low Sodium Baking Powder, have been balanced and formulated to give similar functionality as their higher sodium counterparts.

Once a system is decided on, test baking and sensory is recommended to allow further optimization within the production process and with finished product quality, such as volume, grain, color, pH, water activity and flavor.