BROOKINGS, SD. — Researchers at South Dakota State University in Brookings are fortifying bread and other baked foods with dried distillers’ grain (DDGs), a co-product of the corn ethanol industry, to increase fiber and protein content.

“We are exploring products enriched with plant proteins to provide the nutrients people need and to do so in a more sustainable way,” said Padu Krishnan, PhD, a professor in SDU’s Department of Dairy and Food Science.

In a steamed bread project, the researchers incorporated up to 15% food-grade DDGs into the flour while maintaining taste and texture. The DDGs contained 30% to 40% each of protein and fiber. DDG levels higher than 15% increased the hardness and adhesiveness of the bread.

“The DDG affected the dough’s gluten network, decreasing its endurance to mixing,” Dr. Krishnan said. “At 15%, the bread was chewy, which is desirable, and the dough maintained its elasticity.”

DDGs are sold as livestock feed for slightly more than $140 a ton or 7 per lb, according to SDU.

 “If it can be used in food and specialty applications, we can increase its value comparable to other food ingredients,” Dr. Krishnan said.

Steamed bread has little or no sugar and fat and has the texture of American white bread with a glossy outer skin. Steamed bread is popular in Asian countries such as China, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia. Dr. Krishnan in the SDU research worked with visiting scientist Xiaona “Ivy” Li from the College of Food Science at Shenyang Agricultural University in China.

The research at SDU was supported by the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, the China Scholarship Council and the US Department of Agriculture’s Hatch Act funding through the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.