The collaboration between bread supplier Everfresh Natural Foods, Campden BRI and pasteurization expert Holmach Ltd is already in its fifth quarter and has seen the launch of a range of sprouted vegan cakes with no added sugar earlier this year.
Tom Russell, MD of Everfresh, told BakeryandSnacks, the grant will accelerate the work already done in increasing the nutritive value of wheat and rye.
According to the company, sprouting releases the grain’s nutrients and converts them into a simpler forms that is more easily absorbed by the body. So, too, are the chemicals that trigger allergies often associated with modern bread wheat.
Increase nutritive value of the grain
“We decided to put a team together to look at it in a bit more detail to see if we could work out how to increase that process – or increase the benefits – because we’ve been baking sprouted grain goods for 25 years,” Russell told us.
“I began to think that maybe there’s slightly more to it to maybe process the grains slightly differently, treat it slightly differently in the ovens, treat it slightly different in the preservation method, maybe we’d be able to preserve more of those nutrients if we understood more about what they were and similarly, what else we could blend together to increase the nutritive value of the grain.”
Researchers from Everfresh and Campden are examining which sprouted grains produce an optimal product, in terms of taste, texture and nutritional properties. Candidates include oats, wheat, rye, spelt, barley and possibly pulses for their protein content.
Holmach is working on how pasteurization – steaming products once packed – can extend their shelf life to allow for the removal of additives and help lessen food waste.
“We have a 10-month shelf life on (our current products) without any preservatives – that’s ambient as well, not frozen – so there is something quite interesting in what we do that no one else seems to do.”
According to Russell, an important step of the project is to find alternative packaging materials to reduce the reliance on plastics as far as possible – “which is challenging,” he accedes – but also to find a system that ticks the boxes for optimal food safety and shelf-life for sprouted grain baked goods.
“We’re excited to be working on such a cutting-edge project, which could have huge impact on the food industry.
“There’s an obvious commercial attraction, both at a consumer level, where tasty, nutritional products appeal to today’s health conscious consumers, who are looking for ever less processed foods, and at a retail level, with extended shelf lives and reduced waste having positive financial impacts.
“Perhaps more exciting, in the grand scheme of things, is the impact this could have in regions of the world where increased nutritional content and an increase in food hygiene could have life-saving consequences.”
Innovate UK is a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government with the aim to ‘drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.’