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Study finds non-wheat African steamed breads need improvement

By Kacey Culliney+

02-Jan-2014

Sorghum and maize provide cheaper alternatives to wheat in traditional steamed breads, but quality needs improvement, researchers say
Sorghum and maize provide cheaper alternatives to wheat in traditional steamed breads, but quality needs improvement, researchers say

Industry must improve the quality of maize and sorghum steamed breads to ensure an appealing, cheaper alternative to wheat breads in Africa, say researchers.

Published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture the study investigated the use of maize and sorghum as alternative flours in traditional steamed bread from southern African country Lesotho.

The researchers compared maize and sorghum breads to traditional wheat variants looking at flour particle sizes, sourdough properties, color, volume and texture.

“The type of cereal and milling properties of the flour used had substantial effects on the physical and sensory properties of the bread,” the researchers wrote.

Wheat-based steamed bread had a greater volume, softer crumb and blander flavor compared to sorghum and maize breads.

Sorghum and maize breads had low loaf volumes, denser crumb and more complex and stronger flavors and aroma – notably sour, musty, malty, dairy sour aromas, the researchers said. The non-wheat breads were also dry and chewier.

Improvements could be made

However, the researchers said that with further investigation, the quality and acceptance of maize and sorghum steamed breads could be improved.

“Possibilities include: controlling flour particle size for bread making purposes, altering formulation, for example, compositing non-wheat flours with wheat, addition of protein sources and gums, altering the amount of water use, improving on the pre-gelatinization process and optimizing steam cooking conditions.”

They said that such improvements would be needed to increase the acceptance of the breads among the younger generation and modernized Basotho.

A need for non-wheat alternatives

An alternative to wheat steamed breads is needed in this region, the researchers wrote.

Poor climatic conditions in Lesotho limits the production of wheat, prompting 75% of all wheat flour to be imported. “As a consequence, consumption of wheat bread has become very expensive and is not afforded by poor families,” they said.

The use of non-wheat cereals, such as maize, could significantly reduce bread costs, they added.

 

Source: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002.jsfa.6531
“Quality characterization of wheat, maize and sorghum steamed breads from Lesotho”
Authors: P. Nkhabutlane, GE. Du Rand and HL. De Lock

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