Formulating for freshness
A gluten-free loaf of bread mimics the taste, texture and nutrition of its conventional counterpart on the shelf. However, the gluten-containing loaf will outlast the gluten-free. Shelf life is an issue that continues to hound producers of these products.
“The biggest challenge is managing the high raw material costs versus wheat-based breads and managing and controlling returns of stale product,” said Michael Saulsberry, vice-president of bakery for Watson.
It is not uncommon to find these products in the frozen or refrigerated section of the grocery store. Modified Atmospheric Packaging has also been a solution bakers have turned to keep their products fresher for longer. This packaging eliminates the need to freeze gluten-free foods, but it is a more expensive and complex packaging solution.
To save bakers on packaging costs, Watson developed several solutions to help extend the life of gluten-free products. The company made an all-natural, gluten-free preservative that prevents mold growth.
“This unique product is made from cultured brown rice to provide a naturally derived source of propionic acid combined with acidulates to lower the pH, extending the mold-free shelf-life under ambient storage conditions,” Mr. Saulsberry explained.
For a longer shelf life and maintaining product softness, Watson offers a gluten-free enzyme-based softener; the rice-based enzyme extends freshness.
The gluten-free trend may be slowing down, but it’s not going away. Even though consumers seem pleased with the quality of gluten-free baked goods today, competition in the marketplace is keeping bakers on their toes. Food scientists continue to work with bakers to strive for ever-improved gluten-free baked goods that can deliver on taste, texture, nutrition and shelf life.