Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.
One problem that has stood in the way of rapid gluten-free product improvement has been a lack of knowledge about the functional properties of flours made from rice and other grains. When it comes to making tasty products, so much more is known about the functional properties of wheat than about other grains, but that is rapidly changing.
A team from the US Agricultural Research Service and the Dale Bumper National Rice Research Centre recently set out to evaluate the ways in which different milling techniques might improve the functional properties of rice-based foods. Their findings indicate that pin-milled rice flour seems to produce products with a superior texture that the standard commercial-milling method.
The research team used the same second-head long-grained rice in all of their tests, and compared baking results for commercial-, pin-, and Udy-milled rice. The Udy-milled flour was chemically simlar to the pin-milled flour, with similar amylose and protein levels, yet still produced inferior breads. The commercial flour was milled using a proprietary combination of a hammermill pass and a turbo mill follow-up.
Breads made with commercially milled rice flour showed unfavorable texture and produced flatter, less fluffy loaves, often with large holes in the slices, while bread made with pin-milled rice flour produced fuller, fluffier loaves with better texture, and less holes. Pin-milling rice flour seems to result in more uniformly sized particles with less fine particles, making it superior for creating the novel rice-flour-based food products that are making up an increasing portion of the rapidly expanding market for gluten-free foods.
Using pin-milled rice flour in place of conventionally milled rice flour, will likely result in better tasting tortillas, breads and rice-flour based products.
The market for gluten-free foods has grown at more than 25% annually, from $210 million in 2001 to nearly $700 million in 2006. The figures for 2007 are not in yet, but analysts predict that the market will continue to sustain growth rates of 25% through 2010. This means that by the end of the decade, the gluten-free food industry will generate revenues in excess of $1 billion annually. This strong growth has been due largely to a greater awareness and improved testing methods for celiac disease. However, the creation of new and successful gluten-free products has been relatively slow, due largely to technical challenges and a lack on investment in research and development.
Creating better gluten-free specialty foods using pin-miled rice flour might give producers who rely on rice ingredients a way to recover the costs of rice, which has risen nearly 70% since the beginning of the year. With technical breakthroughs, such as improved milling techniques, and greater investment in research and development, the market might see even greater gains that it has seen to this point. As more and more mainstream manufacturers look to tap into the ever-growing market for gluten-free foods, and as technical revelations increase, people with celiac disease and others on gluten-free diets are likely to see more appealing, better tasting gluten-free products become more widely available than before.
Source: Effects of Milling on Functional Properties of Rice Flour
R.S. Kadan, R.J. Bryant, and J.A. Miller
Published article online: 11-Apr-2008