Gluten-free Formulation Requires a Holistic Approach
The demand for gluten-free foods and beverages in the United States has risen dramatically in just the last five years. Today’s consumers are looking for more gluten-free options with the same great taste as their gluten-containing counterparts. This represents a large market opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers, but it also poses many challenges. After all, as the speakers in Tuesday’s session “Gluten-Free Applications” explained, gluten is an essential component of taste and texture in food due to its unique functional properties.
According to speaker Dilek Uzunalioglu, business scientist in bakery and snack applications at Ingredion, once you take gluten out of a food system you face the following challenges:
- Shortened Shelf Life
Certain product categories, especially in the snack and bakery space, are easier to formulate without gluten than others. Cookies and crackers are the least challenging, said Uzunalioglu, while breads and pizza dough are the biggest challenge. And, unfortunately, “there is no one magic ingredient” to replace gluten with, said Uzunalioglu. She then expounded on the five categories of ingredients that she utilizes to find the optimal replacement for gluten in various formulations:
- Native flours and starches: These make up the bulk and base of the system and can be used from 20% to 50% in a formulation. They are derived from ingredients such as corn, potato, rice, and tapioca.
- Cook-up native functional or modified starches: These ingredients, derived again from corn, tapioca, and rice, really help to dial in the right texture of a product. These can also be used from 20% to 50%.
- Pre-gelatinized native functional starches or modified starches: Once again derived from corn, tapioca, rice, and potatoes, these ingredients can be used at 2–10% to prevent staling.
- Proteins: Examples of protein ingredients used to replace wheat in a gluten-free product include whey, soy, zein, egg white powder, and pulses. To be used at 2–5% in a formation, these protein ingredients provide structure and aid in color development.
- Other hydrocolloids/gums: These include xanthan gum, guar gum, and cellulose, and they are to be used in a very small amount—0.5–3%
Once you have your toolbox of ingredients it is all about measuring the gap between you’re gluten-free version of a food or beverage product and its gluten-containing counterpart. “A holistic formulation approach with key functional ingredients are shown to replace gluten without compromising the eating quality, processing, and shelf life,” concluded Uzunalioglu.
Speaker Sue Gray, director of research and development for King Arthur Flour, also advised attendees to “consider every step of the process from ingredient selection to temperature at packaging. Products may be changed sometimes in surprisingly drastic ways, by simple alterations of the ratio of ingredients, types or temperature of fat, sugar granulation, leavening, grain and starch blends, or baking method.”