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Processing with ancient grains? Consider fermentation

By Kacey Culliney+

23-Jan-2014
Last updated the 24-Jan-2014 at 12:12 GMT

The bread making process for ancient grains and pseudo-cereals is 'not well standardized' and the fermentation process should be considered more carefully, say researchers
The bread making process for ancient grains and pseudo-cereals is 'not well standardized' and the fermentation process should be considered more carefully, say researchers

The quality of baked goods made with ancient grains and pseudo-cereals can be improved with better fermentation technologies, say researchers.

A review published in Food Microbiology covered the difficulties associated with the fermentation process of novel bakery products made from ancient grains and pseudo-cereals like sorghum, millet, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth, among others. These grains, the researchers said, have proven increasingly popular in bakery because of the nutrition and health properties associated with them.

“The challenge in fermenting such grains is represented by the necessity to combine good technology and sensory properties with nutritional/health benefits,” they said.

“In this sense, screening and characterization of the lactic acid bacteria microbiota is very useful in the improvement of a peculiar flour, from both a nutritional and technological point of view.”

They said that currently, the bread making process for ancient grains and pseudo-cereals is “not well standardized” and there are consequent negative effects of the final product properties. The baking quality and final sensory quality of baked goods made using ancient grains continues to be a challenge for bakers, they said.

Opportunities to look deeper at fermentation process

The researchers said that the fermentation difficulties could be tackled with well-chosen starter cultures and a sourdough fermentation – a longer process.

“The choice of the starter cultures has a critical impact on the final quality of cereal-based products, and strains that dominate and outcompete contaminants should be applied for specific sourdough fermentations,” they said.

Use of lactic acid bacteria as starter cultures for industrial bread making has been widely explored, the researchers said, and these prove ideal for ancient grains as they can improve both the sensory and baking qualities of the final bread.

Cultivation remains important

The researchers said that while improvements to the processing/fermentation process can be made, the bakery sector must continue to carefully consider how the ancient grains are cultivated.

“A constant supply of reliable, quality grain available at an economical price is of high importance at industrial or semi-industrial level,” they said.

The researchers said that some practical problems remain to be solved to improve the cultivation and export of cereals and pseudo-cereals.

“Different solutions should be pursued to upgrade quality and competitiveness, such as the use of adapted varieties, appropriate production and farming systems, and innovation in processing and in marketing systems for local and export markets.”

Source: Journal of Food Microbiology
Published February 2014, Volume 37, pages 51-58
“Sourdough lactic acid bacteria: Exploration of non-wheat cereal-based fermentation”
Authors: R. Coda, R. DiCagno, M. Gobbetti and CG. Rizzello

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