Starches bring back texture in gluten-free applications

Starches often are part of the solution when food companies want to keep texture and quality in products after taking gluten out. Gluten offers unique functional properties that must be replaced, said Pat O’Brien, senior manager, marketing of Wholesome Springboard for Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill.

“When removed, it causes unique formulation challenges, from poor dough elasticity and reduced product shelf life to dry, crumbly, grainy textures and reduced protein, nutrients and fiber,” said Mr. O’Brien, who is based in Bridgewater, N.J. “The good news is that you can create gluten-free rolls, muffins and other products with a perfectly open and coarse crumb grain, with the nutritional benefits that are often lacking using a range of solutions, which are selected depending on the functionally needed, including native starches and gluten-free flours, functional starches, modified starches, pulse proteins and hydrocolloids.”

Native flours and starches have been shown to act as the bulk or backbone of the formulation as texture modifiers to provide body, elasticity and chewiness and crumb structure, he said.

“Cook-up native functional or modified starches can act as texture modifiers to provide freeze/thaw stability, body, elasticity and chewiness, and crumb structure,” Mr. O’Brien said. “Pre-gelatinized native functional or modified starches help to provide dough viscosity control, act as a texture modifier, prevent staling and provide freeze/thaw stability.”

Bakers have used finely granulated flours coupled with modified food starches and gums to avoid grittiness and maintain a desirable texture in gluten-free bakery products, said Bill Gilbert, certified master baker and principal food technologist for Minneapolis-based Cargill.

“However, the inclusion of these starches and gums may dissuade consumers who are looking for more familiar ingredients,” he said. “In response, Cargill has developed a robust selection of plant-derived starches and texturizers that can satisfy consumers, while maintaining product quality. Gluten-free native starches such as maize, tapioca and potato, along with our custom texturizing systems, help bakers solve common formulation challenges and produce a consumer-friendly label. Additionally, Cargill’s ActiStar resistant starch may be used to replace a portion of the flour in gluten-free applications, providing functionality as well as adding a fiber source.”

Besides gluten-free items, starches also may prove effective when developing items free of such allergens as eggs, wheat and soy.

“As a carbohydrate, starches do not contain any of the major allergens and thus provide many labeling and functional benefits in allergen-free products,” said Rachel Wicklund, Ph.D., technical manager, global ingredient technology, Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., London. “The wide array of functionality provided by starches, like thickening, gelling and emulsification, make it particularly suited to replace many allergen ingredients like egg, wheat and soy.”

Cargill offers starch blends that may be used to mimic the function of eggs in baked foods, Mr. Gilbert said.

“Cargill’s canola lecithin offers the same functionality as soy lecithin but doesn’t have to be declared as a major food allergen in the U.S.,” Mr. Gilbert said.