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Flour enhancer can salvage otherwise damaged wheat crops

April 1st, 2011

Bug-damaged crops can be salvaged by a complex of enzymes, ascorbic acid and acidity regulators to create bakery products such as pizza crusts and crackers, claims bakery ingredients supplier Mühlenchemie.

Flour improvers Alphamalt BE 19124 and Alphamalt WT 1, in particular, increase volume yield and the quality of the crumb of dough, according to a series of recent tests by the Germany based specialist on Romanian and Bulgarian bug-damaged flour.

Challenges

The flour enhancers are ideal for creating flat bakery products, said Lutz Popper, head of research and development at Mühlenchemie, but he told this publication that the flour produced from damaged crops is not as suitable for goods requiring high volume.

This is because the enzymes present in flour made from damaged crops mean the dough has lack of stability, he said, adding that this will not be a major issue in Eastern European markets, where consumers are used to dense bakery products.

Popper said that Mühlenchemie is aiming to address this challenge as part of its continuing research and development.

Damage to crops

He said the company predicts extreme climatic conditions such as drought and heavy rainfall to increase in the future. It is weather conditions such as this that can lead to bug damage in grain.

During unusually long periods of dry weather, the insects attack unripe, green wheat grains, exude an enzyme that breaks down protein and therefore damaging the gluten.

Heavy rainfall shortly before harvesting causes the kernels to germinate on the stalk, producing large amounts of starch-degrading enzymes. These reduce the water-absorption capacity of the flour; the doughs become soft and sticky. The shape and volume of the loaves suffer from the poor stability of the dough.

“With the aid of special compounds of active ingredients you have to strengthen the gluten, reduce the activity of the protein-degrading enzymes as far as possible and improve the baking properties of the dough in general”, said Popper

Labelling

In terms of declaring the enhancer on the product label, Popper said this would depend on the market and policy of the country in question.

Alphamalt BE 19124 can not be used in Europe were the only oxidizing agent that can be used in bakery products is ascorbic acid. However, Alphamalt WT 1 can be used in Europe, but would have to be declared on labels as it contains citric acid.

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