Because of their rising profile among consumers as “superfoods,” beans now cue interesting new product opportunities. In an exclusive Baking & Snack Q&A, Tara Froemming, business development, and Jennifer Tesch, international sales and marketing director, from SK Food International, Fargo, ND, brief formulators about these interesting variety flour ingredients. They also touch on flours milled from ancient grains.

Baking & Snack: How has interest from commercial bakers in your company’s nonwheat flours changed in the past few years? What drives this change?

Tara Froemming: We have seen an increase in our specialty flours (non-wheat flours) over the past few years with more interest turning to ancient grains, as well as pea, bean and lentil flours. With gluten intolerance gaining recognition, non-wheat grains/specialty grains and beans, peas, lentils have come to the forefront as viable alternatives for wheat.

Which types get the most interest? Which ones deserve more attention? Why?

Ancient grain flours have been continually gaining interest. Not only a healthy alternative to its wheat counterpart, ancient grains are said to have a more distinctive and flavorful taste, having remained a purer grain for centuries.

The types of specialty flours SK Food specifically offers include amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, spelt, lentil, pea, dry bean, corn.

Another innovative “untapped” ingredient offering for baked foods and snacks is our Crimson Red Corn. This hybrid red corn has a unique quality of its colored alerone. Other varieties’ color is in the seed coat, which causes the corn to lose its color during food processing. However, SK Food International’s Crimson Red Corn has a clear seed coat, with the color in the alerone, allowing the red color to remain intact through processing into a flour. Since the color remains intact through the production process, there isn’t a need to add colorants or artificial additives in order to achieve a visually appealing finished product. The result is a clean product label, listing Crimson Red Corn as the single ingredient. It is also naturally gluten-free.

Black soybeans are high in protein, antioxidants, anthocyanin and Vitamin E while azuki beans are a good source of fiber, iron and potassium and promote heart health.

Jennifer Tesch: Black Soybeans and azuki beans are two unique types of beans that can create a new twist to a variety of product applications, including canning, soups, chili, side dishes and snack foods. Black soybeans can also be used similar to yellow soybeans for soy sauce, roasting and tofu. Traditionally, these beans have primarily been used in Southeast Asian markets; however there has been increased demand for these ingredients for in North American food applications.


Asian cuisine has become increasingly popular domestically where it was once a staple only in Asian diets.

What advice do you give customers to enable successful use of these flours? Different storage and handling needs? Different absorptions? Different processing requirements?

Ms. Froemming: There will be some different processing requirements depending on what the product is and we also provide R&D support in assisting our customers with the incorporation of new and unique custom-milled flours.

Can you share recent scientific research that documents the health and nutrition benefits of these grains?

Here’s what Carol Ann Brannon wrote in Today’s Dietitian (9.5:2007): “Ancient grains often also carry another moniker: ‘supergrains,’ due to their high level of protein, in addition to many other health benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Ancient grains are often a richer source of nutrients than modern grains because lack of breeding has left their nutrition profile intact.”