A grain-free claim should not be confused with a gluten-free claim. A product can be gluten-free and still contain grains, such as ancient grains as well as corn, rice and oats. Some bakers choose to go grain- and gluten-free to attract not just the keto dieter, but also the paleo dieter. With paleo, all grains are excluded.

“The paleo diet is a nutritional approach that focuses on eating only foods that are nourishing and unprocessed,” said Jordann Windschauer, founder, Base Culture, Clearwater, Fla. “It is rooted in foods that were available and eaten by people in paleolithic times and excludes dairy, grains and legumes.”

The company relies on nuts, seeds, eggs and various minimally processed plant starches to make its growing line of paleo-certified breads. Until now, Base Culture’s breads have been limited to frozen distribution to maintain quality and shelf life. But the company is getting ready to launch ambient sliced breads: white, honey and simply seeded.

Many free-from and keto-friendly baked goods are sold frozen to maintain quality and extend shelf life. Today, more of these products may be found at the in-store bakery and the bread aisle.

“Many of these products rely on ingredients with high water retention,” said Yanling Yin, PhD, director, research and development, Corbion. “Products with high-moisture content tend to grow mold fast if the level of mold inhibitor is not increased or final product pH is not reduced.”

Climate can also be a contributing factor when dealing with mold.

“Spoilage due to mold is always an issue with baked goods, especially in warmer, high-humidity climates,” said Jerry Savino, technical services manager at Kemin. “Mold inhibitors function as preservatives to help extend shelf life. There are many chemical options available, with a popular one being propionic acid. But in the current clean label climate, chemicals are not appreciated on ingredient legends.”

Cultured dextrose can be used as a replacement for propionic acid. It has no impact on flavor or color while providing a clean label.

Vinegar-based ingredients may also assist, according to Peggy Dantuma, business development lead for bakery, Kerry.

“Our vinegar-based solution offers one of the cleanest tastes I have seen in applications, closer to bread without any preservatives,” she said. “It works really well in breads with a pH of 5.2 or less for remarkable additional shelf life days. It joins our fermented brown rice solution as a gluten-free option within our portfolio of clean label preservation ingredients.”

Free-from and keto-friendly baked goods often look and taste different than their traditional counterparts due to the use of specialty ingredients. And if it doesn’t taste great, the product will not succeed. Ingredient technologies may assist.

“Natural flavors can be used to improve the taste,” Ms. Dantuma said. “They can mask off notes from alternative grains and flours, as well as enhance the sweetness of keto products.”

Michael Ivey, national sales director, Butter Buds Inc., said that dried dairy ingredients, along with concentrated dairy flavors, provide creamy, rich flavor notes and high-quality protein to gluten-free baked goods.

Texture hurdles may be addressed with the leavening system. Innophos now offers a proprietary leavening solution for high-protein baking.

“From a textural perspective, it can be difficult to achieve a dome structure, target volume and fluffiness in a keto-friendly product,” said Amr Shaheed, technical service manager, food applications, Innophos. “This leavening product has been proven to improve volume and texture in protein-fortified baked goods.”            

Bakers and snack makers looking to serve keto, grain-free and gluten-free consumers have challenges to ensure that products are tasty and have pleasing textures. But the ingredient options continue to expand, and producers who successfully formulate their products will find an audience happy to snap them up.   

This article is an excerpt from the July 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Keto, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, click here.