The flour major investigated whether xanthan gum and instant starch could be replaced by flax and chia in gluten-free muffins.
Vanessa Klimczak, senior product applications technologist at Bay State Milling, said both ingredients proved promising in terms of functionality.
“With flax and chia, when you add water, they give viscosity and they also have a tendency to gel as well. We thought, why not use that to our advantage and clean up some labels,” she told attendees at the AACCI’s annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island earlier this month.
Bay State Milling tested flax and chia in various forms, including milled and whole in gel and non-gel forms.
“Xanthan and instant starch are used to provide particulate suspension, batter viscosity and a matrix to mimic gluten, thus giving volume. Those were attributes we looked for when replacing with chia and flax,” she said.
Gels should help functionality
Bay State Milling’s hypothesis was that hydrating flax and chia and making gels would aid functionality in terms of suspension and viscosity, Klimczak said.
Overall gels did provide a strong matrix for gas retention in the gluten-free muffins and delivered volumes equivalent to the control.
However, the team found milled chia did not need to be in gel form because it instantly absorbed water. “Milling chia increases the rate of hydration and viscosity increases versus whole chia, thus it doesn’t require a pre-hydration step for functionality,” she explained.
Whole chia, however, worked better in gel form in terms of viscosity and performance.
“Chia and flax have the potential to increase viscosity and replace the functionality of xanthan gums or other gums or instant starch in this muffin system,” she said. An additional bonus was the increased protein, fiber and omega 3 values, she added.
Bay State Milling would now work on research into shelf life using chia and flax in gluten-free products, Klimczak said.
“Now we know they have the ability to hold moisture, and hold it well similar to a gum, it might be used to increase the shelf life in gluten-free products.”