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Product developers who are formulating gluten-free products, such as bread, while minimally impacting the sensory experience are presented with quite a challenge. Wheat gluten contributes unique texture attributes and functionality and those characteristics cannot be replaced by a single ingredient. Bread manufactured without gluten can result in a product that has a dry, firm texture that does not hold together from bite to bite.

What functionality is compromised when removing gluten?

  • Cohesiveness: Degree to which sample deforms rather than crumbles, breaks, or ruptures
  • Firmness: The force required to compress the sample between the thumb and index finger
  • Uniformity of shape: The degree to which the sample product pieces are the same shape or the degree to which the shape of the sample is symmetrical

How do texture and taste interact in gluten-free breads?

The taste experience of food involves not just the sense of taste, but also senses like smell (aroma), mouthfeel (texture) and sight (appearance). Gums help to mimic the texture of gluten, control the release of the aroma of the finished good and improve the appearance of the crumb and crust that consumers are accustomed to in baked goods. All these capabilities contribute to the overall taste experience of the gluten-free bread. 

Can I use gluten-free flour as a replacement for wheat flour?

Gluten is unique in its functionality and does not have a one-to-one replacement. If a product developer simply replaces wheat flour with gluten-free flour the dough is often lacking in elasticity and pliability which prevents the dough from rising during the proofing process. Consequently, the finished product is dense with a low volume and rapidly breaks down in the mouth during consumption.

How can gums help gluten-free applications?

In applications where wheat flour is replaced with gluten-free flour, gums can provide some of the structure for which gluten is responsible. That structure is what lends itself to a fluffy, moist.

Gums provide similar functionalities of the gluten network by delivering thickening, extensibility and structure in gluten-free applications. For example, gums like guar help to thicken dough, while gums like xanthan, methylcellulose or cellulose derivatives can provide gel structures when formulating. Moisture retention properties from hydrocolloids also help to improve the taste of gluten-free bread by reducing the existence of dry crumbs or graininess. 

An optimally developed gluten network creates a fine veil or film of protein that not only entraps gases produced during the proofing or baking process, but also expands as the gases increase in size and number. This helps to create bread that is light and airy with very high volume and a soft crumb structure. Gums are able to mimic this veil by forming a gel system, allowing the dough to retain gases and expand, which ultimately improves textural deficiencies.

Gluten-free flours absorb water differently when compared to wheat flour and hydrocolloids can be used to manage water which improves machinability by decreasing stickiness and increases moisture retention in finished goods.

Because each gum has unique functionalities in terms of thickening and suspension or improving gel structures and moisture retention, formulators of gluten-free products often take advantage of gum blends. These blends can help leverage the characteristics of multiple ingredients while maintaining the convenience of a single ingredient. 

What gluten-free applications benefit from the use of hydrocolloids?

Hydrocolloids can significantly improve the texture and stability in gluten-free bakery applications, such as cookies, cakes, pressed or sheeted dough products like tortilla, pasta, pizza dough and breads.

What does it mean to formulate for gluten-free?

According to FDA, in order for a finished good to be considered gluten-free, it must have less than the unavoidable amount of gluten (20ppm). The finished good must also not include any of the following:

  • an ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley or crossbreeds of these grains,
  • an ingredient derived from these grains and that has not been processed to remove gluten, or
  • an ingredient derived from these grains that has been processed to remove gluten, if it results in the food containing 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten

How can I label my gluten-free product?

The FDA allows the following claims for products that meet their definition of gluten-free:

  • Gluten-Free
  • Without Gluten
  • Free of Gluten
  • No Gluten

Products

  • Product
    Usage Level
    Features
  • 0.05%-1.50%
    Improves finished volume in gluten free breads
  • 0.10-0.30% of the flour weight
    Increases batter stability and suspension of particulates; contributes to an improved crumb structure
  • 0.50-2.10% of the total formula weight
    Produces a uniform crust while maintaining softness and cohesiveness in bread
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