Ingredients with good hydrocolloid properties make formulating gluten-free foods all the easier. Marilyn Stieve, business development manager, flax, Glanbia Nutritionals, Fitchburg, WI, describes the role that materials derived from flax have in this emerging category of foods.

Baking & Snack: The presence of gluten enables proper kneading, gas retention, finished texture and keeping quality. So, how does the formulator compensate for these functions without using gluten?

Marilyn Stieve: When used in conjunction with gluten-free flours, Glanbia Nutritionals’ OptiSol 5000 and OptiSol 5300 help food formulators overcome the traditional challenges of gluten-free applications. A unique property of flaxseed is its gum mucilage, which helps baked goods retain moisture and overall structural integrity. The range of uniquely processed flax-based ingredients can optimize moisture retention and maintain quality over a longer shelf-life.

Among Glanbia Nutritionals’ ingredients, which ones do you recommend for gluten-free baked foods? Why?

We have developed OptiSol 5000 and OptiSol 5300, which are flaxseed-based hydrocolloid ingredients that can aid in the development of gluten-free products. Due to their strong water-binding properties, the ingredients can help manage and retain moisture throughout the shelf life of baked goods. To address the demand from consumers for great tasting and nutritional gluten-free products, both ingredients have a nice wheat-like flavor profile that can help bring back some of the flavor notes that are typically missing in gluten-free formulations. From a nutritional side, because the ingredient is flaxseed-based, it is naturally gluten-free. OptiSol 5000 and 5300 contain a high level of ALA omega-3s, providing excellent nutritional value, which is missing in gluten-free products.

What aspect of gluten-free formulating do users of your ingredients find the most difficult to navigate? Why?

There are significant challenges when formulating gluten-free products. In the bakery category, the shelf life of the products is short due to the type of flours they are using. Gluten-free products have also often suffered from poor texture. Consumers are left with low-quality options, while manufacturers of ready-to-eat products face extremely short distribution times.

Hydrocolloid ingredients, such as OptiSol 5000 and 5300, can provide benefits to improving shelf life through their moisture management properties. Gluten-free bakery products also tend to lack the “bakery-wheat like” flavors that consumers are accustomed to. The OptiSol range of ingredients can help bring back some of the wheat-like notes and improve the overall flavor of the finished bakery item.

Gluten-free products tend to lack some of the nutritional aspects that you see in other non-gluten-free products. There is a trend in the industry to add back some of these “healthy aspects” into gluten-free products by enrichment. OptiSol 5000 can offer the enrichment of ALA omega-3, fiber and protein, so it builds in health and wellness while improving the quality of the finished products.

What advice do you have for someone attempting their first gluten-free version of a baked food or snack already in their company’s product line?

We would encourage manufacturers to look at different ingredients that they had not previously thought of as traditional bakery items. For example, ingredients such as flaxseed for moisture management or ancient grains that can also build in health and wellness properties through high levels of protein and fibers.

To help move from bench to bakery, what do formulators need to know about processing gluten-free doughs made with your ingredients?

Glanbia Nutritionals has had good success with incorporating the OptiSol 5300 flaxseed-based ingredient in gluten-free tortillas, cookies, cakes, pizza doughs, pastas, waffles and fresh breads. We find the optimal use level is between 1.0 and 2.5%, depending on the application.