Gluten-Free Challenge: Meeting “eating quality” and taste expectations

March 18, 2015

Shelf life, nutritional limitations, and more

While these characteristics of gluten-free processed foods are improving as food science advances, wheat is “still without comparison” with regard to deliciousness and eating pleasure, Shelke states. She says that successful and tasty gluten-free alternatives must provide the functional, nutritional, aesthetic, and economic qualities that gluten provides in processed foods. For example, when making a gluten-free cookie, the product developer must first identify the roles played by the gluten-based ingredient: structure and control of spread. Then, potential substitutions must be found and tried both individually and in combination with other ingredients to create structure in and control spread of the cookie-keeping in mind that cookies are almost always one-third flour, one-third shortening, and one-third sugar plus water.

In this example, the cookie developer must then ensure the spread is consistent and uniform and adjust protein and sugars to bring about the right color. Finally, Shelke says, the level of fat must be tweaked to create an acceptable texture.

After these formulation challenges are met, the product must be tested for shelf-life implications, for friability and shape retention, and for final taste and flavor implications.

Ultimately, a gluten-free product must simply taste good and be enjoyable to eat if it is to have staying power in the market.

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