Corn tortilla chips
Food producers are looking at different types of corn to differentiate themselves in the growing tortilla market.

Free to function

Thymly Products, Inc., currently buys about 15 different types of corn that go into numerous products. All of them go into the baking powder and cornstarch products the company offers. Bakers may use them in anything from a tortilla chip to a pizza.

Cornstarch stops premature gassing in baked products not only in the bag but once food producers start to use the product. Yellow corn cones are a finer granulation of cornmeal. Their most common use is as dusting meal for pizzas and English muffins. When added to grain blends, they add a color and texture to baked goods.

“Not only do the yellow corn cones look impressive by themselves, but by contrast, they make the other grain particulates more appealing,” Mr. Muller-Thym said.

Historically, they were used as a release aid for pizza crust and bread but lately are being used in whole grain baked goods.

“My personal favorite is toasted corn germ, which has been widely used in the snack food industry to produce whole grain chips,” he said.

This ingredient may be used in breads to add whole grains to the label while also giving bread both buttery and nutty notes. Unlike a lot of other whole grains, it adds flavors that resonate in a positive way with customers, he said.

Ingredion, Inc., offers a range of food starches that provide desirable texture to clean label baked corn tortilla chips. The texturizer series is a toolbox of cost-efficient functional starches that allow snack manufacturers to produce high-quality sheeted snacks to meet consumers’ texture preferences. Specifically for baked corn tortillas, there’s a food starch that contributes to improved sheetability, uniformity of cell structure in expansion and a unique and differentiated texture in baked snack applications. It delivers a crispy texture with long moisture breakdown in crackers, crispy, yet crunchy texture in fabricated baked chips and a harder bite in baked tortilla chips.

Non-G.M.O. corn field
Heirloom varieties of corn have always been non-G.M.O., but they require segregation during milling to maintain that claim.

For clean label formulating, it is now possible to source many of these ingredients organic and non-G.M.O. The heirloom varieties have always been non-G.M.O, and, providing that there’s segregation during milling, processing and packaging, these corn ingredients are gluten-free. Because they do not contain gluten, batters and doughs must be carefully managed to include protein or other ingredients that provide strength.

“Otherwise the product may crumble, break or simply lack resiliency which allows it to spring back when handled,” Mr. Muller-Thym said. “This can be overcome through the use of enzyme-based dough conditioners.”

Cornmeal’s gluten-free attribute adds flavor and texture that some other gluten-free flours lack. The Canadian Pulse Industry developed a gluten-free cornbread using cornmeal, white bean flour and a brown rice flour blend.

“Given corn’s gluten-free status, it’s a natural fit,” Mr. Smith said. “Many of the wheat flour alternatives used in gluten-free applications are expensive and typically have bland flavors. In contrast, corn’s naturally sweet taste offers formulators an easy foundation for their gluten-free sweet treats. For indulgent, gluten-free products like streusel-style muffins, the taste advantages inherent with corn flour make it a clear winner over other alternatives.”

Cargill has developed gluten-free sliced bread products made with significant levels of corn flour. They scored well in consumer sensory panels, according to Mr. Smith.

Whether formulating gluten-free treats or adding a nutritional boost to baked goods, dry corn ingredients can serve as the foundation for breads, crackers, cookies, muffins and more.