James Slater, R&D Director at Puratos UK is available to talk about why sprouted grains will play a big role in bakery in the coming months and years and the benefits of the sprouting process on nutrition, taste and texture.
Growth in grains
Taste and freshness have long been a consumer priority in bakery, but texture, health and transparency are becoming just as important (Puratos Taste Tomorrow, 2020 & 2018). It’s therefore no surprise that consumers want to see more grains in bread, as they add taste, texture, nutrients and are a natural ingredient, which consumers recognise on the label.
This growing positive perception around grains was demonstrated in a large-scale consumer study, conducted by Canadean (now GlobalData), that asked consumers, ‘Do you think the following ingredients will have a positive or negative impact on your health?’. More than two-thirds (70%) of participants responded that sprouted grains would have a positive impact on their health, while only 4% thought they might have adverse effects.
We can also see the increase in interest around sprouted grains reflected in Innova data that shows that the number of products containing this ingredient has more than doubled in the past 10 years.
This is all evidence that an increasing number of both consumers and manufacturers are recognising all the benefits sprouted grains have to offer.
Harvesting the power of nature
Humans have been sprouting grains for centuries and reaping their nutritional benefits. We’re now re-discovering the power of letting nature do what it does best and this aligns with our belief that today’s baker can rely on the expertise of the 250 generations of bakers before ours. Grains could be described as a ‘self-contained warehouse, production plant, and packaging system’ and by malting, sprouting and fermenting them we tap into the natural benefits of grains by making their nutrients and macro-nutrients more ‘available’.
The pandemic has prompted people to take a greater interest in how food can have a positive impact on their overall well-being, and many are looking for simple ways to increase their intake of important nutrients, like vitamins and minerals. Grains are recognised by consumers as an easy way to do this – as reflected in our Taste Tomorrow survey, which shows that 60% of consumers believe that adding ingredients such as wholegrains to bakery products make them healthier and that 30% of people even look for grains on the ingredient list.
The nutritional benefits of sprouted grains are many. Sprouted grains can increase the amount of wholegrain and fibre in foods (which NHS figures show most of us are low in), as well as the vitamin and mineral content. There have also been studies showing that the sprouting process creates changes in grains that make them easier to digest, and can make some of the minerals, such as iron, more bioavailable.
Consumers are also increasingly interested in the power of natural ingredients, and sprouted grains are a way to add flavour, texture and visual appeal to baked goods, naturally. Puratos Sproutgrains for example, are made using just air, water and a natural fermentation process, allowing for clean label declarations – a real positive for shoppers.
Taste and texture
As well as nutritional benefits, sprouted grains also offer taste and texture benefits, which can be harnessed to reduce the sugar content of products – currently a real focus for the government, manufacturers and consumers.
Research shows that through the sprouting process the starch content of grains is reduced, and natural sugars occur. These natural sugars give a sweet note to sprouted grains, and can be used to create products with less added sugar or salt.
Using sprouted grains in bread adds new flavour notes and can make products taste more malty or nutty. At Puratos, we even add an extra fermentation step to the process, intended to further boost the flavour of grains and help complex flavour molecules develop.
Sprouted grains can also add texture to baked goods. Depending on how the grains are processed they can add a chewy texture and enhance moisture in the crumb, or they can add crunch. The Puratos Softgrain range, for example, includes ready-to-use wholegrains and seeds which are cooked and infused with sourdough, giving them a slightly chewy
texture meaning they slowly release moisture. This moisture can actually have a positive effect on the shelf life of products, as well as on taste, as the moisture naturally prolongs the freshness of products.
One other important and practical benefit of sprouted grains is their versatility. This one ingredient can be added to any type of sweet or savoury bakery application, including soft bakery items and offers an easy way for bakers to reinvent their current products too.
Puratos Sprouted Grains are both ready-to-use and easy-to-use, so a convenient solution for bread producers and take away the complexity of controlling the sprouting process themselves. They can also be added to numerous simple recipes, with only little adaptation needed, such as the level of water. For any support or recipe inspiration, the Puratos technical team is always here to help.
As well as holding benefits for bakers, the versatility of sprouted grains is positive for consumers too. They do not need to dramatically change their habits by switching to crusty rustic and wholemeal types of breads, for example, as they can enjoy all the benefits of sprouted grains in the same type of loaf or other baked products, they usually enjoy.
What’s next for sprouted grains?
Apart from communicating the health benefits of grains, NPD will also continue to prove essential to keep products with grains interesting. Because of their versatility we will see sprouted grains used all across the bakery category in products other than bread. For example, as consumers increasingly look for healthier indulgence, the natural sweetness of sprouted grains means we will see them featuring more in sweet applications like cakes and muffins.
Experimenting with various types of grains and lesser-known varieties will also help keep the sprouted grains category fresh. We expect rye, spelt and chia, as well as less commonly used grains such as linseed and millet to become even more widely used, as the bakery sector continues to invest in NPD and consumers look to explore new tastes and textures. We also expect oats, which are already well-known for their health benefits, to increasingly be used in bakery products.
The nutrition, taste, texture, and versatility benefits of sprouted grains means they will only continue to grow in popularity throughout 2021 and beyond and at Puratos we will continue to make it easier for our customers to harvest all the benefits this power ingredient has to offer.
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Editor, International Bakery
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