Wheat and oats are traditional sources of whole grain for processed food formulation, but some more nontraditional grains are out there. Ancient grains and barley are examples.

Ancient grains

ConAgra Mills, Omaha, now offers the ancient grains amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum and teff. Like other whole grains, the ancient grains provide nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein and fiber, said Elizabeth Arndt, manager, R.&D., for ConAgra Mills. The ancient grains, particularly amaranth, millet and quinoa, tend to be higher in lipid and mineral content than other whole grains.

"For baked good applications, the ancient grain ingredients should be used in a similar manner as other whole grains that do not contain functional gluten," she said. "It is necessary to pay close attention to the formula and processing factors, including water absorption, mix time and use of other functional ingredients to ensure that the desired end product characteristics are delivered."


An article appearing on-line in the Journal of Cereal Science focused on a Washington State University study that said food manufacturers are using barley more often, but they may face technical challenges.

Dakota Specialty Milling, Fargo, N.D., recently installed a processing line for barley, which will allow the company to process more barley in-house and thus improve quality control.

"We definitely see barley as a growing ingredient (in use)," said Wayne Flood, vice-president of sales and marketing.

ConAgra Mills offers Sustagrain Barley, an identity-preserved waxy barley variety. The fiber-dense grain has three times the total and soluble fiber of oats, which may allow for development of products that meet nutrient content claims or health claims at lower use levels, Ms. Arndt said.

"As with the ancient grains and other whole grains that do not contain functional gluten, it is necessary to pay attention to the formula and processing factors," she said.