Demand for improving the taste of gluten-free foods
A new EU-funded project has been set up following demand from those intolerant to gluten (a protein composite found in wheat, barley and rye) for better tasting food.
An intolerance to gluten (coeliac disease) affects millions of people worldwide and is a chronic bowel disorder, sufferers of which have to avoid foods such as bread, cereals and pasta. Symptoms of the disease include stomach ache and vomiting.
The EU project, called GlutenFree, has conducted tests in Germany (where 1 in every 250 people suffers from coeliac disease), to cater to the demand for gluten-free products, mainly offered by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which has risen steadily over the past years. Many consumers find gluten-free pasta and bakery products unappetising and lacking in texture. This is a view confirmed in consumer tests involving coeliac disease sufferers and healthy volunteers.
The project, coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising, also collaborates with ingredient providers and food producers and research institutes from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Sweden. The aim of the project is to enable SMEs to develop premium, tasty gluten-free products that the consumer will enjoy. The focus is primarily on bread and pasta, and on improving their taste, smell, appearance, texture and sensation in the mouth.
Dipl-Ing. Jürgen Bez, scientist at IVV, says, 'Gluten contains two protein fractions, the gliadins and the glutenins. These form a network-like structure - the dough matrix, if you like - giving the dough good porosity and a viscoelasticity that allows it to keep its shape and remain elastic in the baking process. Gluten-free bakery products dry out more quickly, crumble more easily and have a shorter shelf-life. Pasta without gluten overcooks more quickly, and is sticky and less elastic. As a result, finding ingredients to compensate for gluten's positive properties is a challenge.'
Researchers have been successful in finding ingredients such as plant proteins, which lend pasta and bakery products the same structuring effect as the protein gluten. Hydrocolloids like xanthan gum, HPMC and dextran have all been examined carefully, as well as seeds taken from cereals and pseudocereals like amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat. In addition, scientists analysed protein isolates taken from potatoes and pulses like lupins, broad beans and peas, and investigated the interaction of a variety of recipe ingredients during the production process, and the ways in which this affected texture, sensory properties and aroma profile. A whole range of recipes were tested; for example, researchers combined proteins with soluble fibres like xanthan gum and HPMC or with insoluble citrus fibres.
Using a special production technique, scientists were also able to extract a protein isolate containing viscoelastic properties from the seeds of lupins and broad beans. This was another technique developed by Dipl-Ing. Jürgen Bez and his team at Fraunhofer IVV. He says, 'By adding lupin proteins, we were able to improve the volume of baked goods.'
Scientists also established that adding sourdough helps prevent loaves from going mouldy so quickly, observing that dough becomes more elastic and that loaves stay fresher for longer.
Already there has been success in producing a range of improved gluten-free breads, including toast bread, leavened bread and oat wholemeal bread, ciabatta, baguettes and pizza dough. Four of the baked goods producers involved in the project are already using the recipes for ciabatta, wholemeal bread and pizza dough. Furthermore, researchers were able to produce gluten-free spaghetti with a high fibre and protein content. It is hoped that it won't be long before the new products will be seen in bakeries and supermarkets.
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Data Source Provider: Fraunhofer Institute
Document Reference: Based on information from the Fraunhofer Institute
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation; Food; Scientific Research