A researcher from Washington State University is looking into using waxy wheat, a variety that holds up well in the extrusion process
Pullman, Wash. – There’s a variety of wheat that could help food processors increase the whole-grain content of foods without affecting taste and texture.
Washington State University (WSU) says waxy wheat, which was first bred around the turn of the 21st century, has unique processing properties.
It forms a paste at a significantly lower temperature than regular wheat and it swells with more water than standard varieties.
Girish Ganjyal, a faculty member of the School of Food Science at WSU says this variety “holds real potential for improving processed foods.”
Ganjyal tells WSU that consumers are turning more to snack foods, which today can make up 25 per cent of the calories most adult Americans take in. Snack foods are a large part of many consumers’ diets.
WSU writes that in recent years, the food industry has been trying to increase the fibre and protein content of processed foods.
Part of that effort, says WSU, has meant focusing on foods that use extrusion processing.
Extrusion processing is key in the making of several products, such as elbow macaroni, tortilla chips, Cheetos and Fruit Loops, military rations and many snacks like snack bars.
But as you add more fibre and protein into extruded food, the texture and taste changes. And most American consumers prefer their foods and snacks to have a “light” texture and taste, with a crunch and then to dissolve in the mouth.
The waxy wheat, when processed through extruders, cooks at low energy inputs and produces light-textured products, says WSU.
Ganjyal tells WSU that he is researching how using waxy wheat may address the problem of whole-grain extruded foods being darker than many people like. He also wants to keep the look and melt-in-your-mouth texture that consumers like in extruded foods that have more nutrition added.