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Kansas State University Researchers Use Sorghum to Craft New Gluten-free Foods

Celiac.com 10/03/2012 - In an effort to expand the market for Kansas-grown sorghum, a professor at Kansas State University and a group of food science graduate students are conducting research into the use of sorghum in new gluten-free food products for people with celiac disease.

Photo: CC--agrilifetodayKansas is one of the top sorghum producers in the U.S. In 2006, as the manufacturing of gluten-free products started to take off, sorghum farmers began looking for alternative uses for their crop.

Fadi Aramouni, K-State professor of food science, said that quest triggered the university's research into sorghum as a gluten alternative. In America, sorghum has traditionally been used for animal feed, but the growing market for gluten-free foods, along with the availability of food-grade sorghum, is fueling the use of sorghum in these types of food products, he said.

Aramouni said the research initially focused on developing a sorghum-based tortilla. He and the students looked at the six varieties of sorghum grown in Kansas and determined which one they thought would work best. They considered factors such as grain hardness, protein, carbohydrate and fiber content, shelf life, dough quality, and flavor.

Right away, the research team ran into problems with milling, "because it turns out that the particle size during the milling will affect the properties of the sorghum flour," Armuni said. One problem is that sorghum tends to form a batter rather than a dough, so it is necessary to add eggs and other stabilizers, such as gums, to craft a suitable dough.

Using the facilities at Kansas State's grain and science industry department, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Manhattan, the research team has been able to create tortillas, breads, Belgian waffles and waffle cones from sorghum.

Their research is largely funded by the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and includes comparing the glycemic index of their sorghum products to those made of wheat, corn and rice. The glycemic index measures how a given carbohydrate raises blood glucose.

In the last few years, the team's sorghum-based creations have won first prize in the American Association of Cereal Chemists competition.

using their new knowledge of sorghum, the researchers are now working to create gluten-free soft pretzels, sweet rolls and dinner rolls, vanilla-flavored Waffle Cones and Crunchums, a raspberry-jalapeno-flavored sorghum snack.

"This is not cooking. This is science," Aramouni said.

It is important science, he adds, because people who must eat gluten-free food need better, more nutritious products. What new gluten-free products would you like to see on the market? Share your comments below.

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4 Responses:

 
Peggy Detmers
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said this on
08 Oct 2012 8:24:44 AM PST
I was a late diagnosed celiac, fighting the re-occurrence of a persistent colon cancer caught in its early stages - which WENT AWAY COMPLETELY after going gluten free. However, I still react to ALL monocotyledon grass family seeds like millet and sorghum with stomach pain and asthma. I do not react to dicotyledon plant (buckwheat, amaranth) products, and I read I am not alone. For some reason the grass family causes auto-immune reactions that dicotyledons do not.

 
Tine
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said this on
08 Oct 2012 11:54:24 PM PST
I would like to eat products with 0 ppm gluten in it, because I get sick of most gluten-free products with higher amounts of gluten (below 20 ppm). I am very sensitive to small traces of wheat, barley etc.

 
Mary
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said this on
09 Oct 2012 6:27:51 AM PST
I would like to see sorghum flour more widely available along with other gluten-free flours in bulk food stores here in NY. The only way I know to get it (aside from buying online but shipping makes that prohibitive) is from Bob's Red Mill. Sorghum flour is something I always look for but I'm constantly disappointed not to find it.

Perhaps it's available in Kansas. I recall seeing fields of sorghum growing in Kansas and my uncle pointing out that it was a major part of the diet for the cattle in his feedlot. Maybe that is why it is of particular interest to me. I think it tastes good and I like to add it to my flour mixes, particularly for pancakes.

 
Heddi
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said this on
15 Oct 2012 6:33:31 AM PST
"It is important science, he adds, because people who must eat gluten-free food need better, more nutritious products." Yet only two of the products were what I would consider "healthy". I would eat the tortillas and the bread, maybe, but certainly not the waffles, ice cream cones, granola mix, sweet rolls, pretzels, dinner rolls... This is just a "science" to try to make the growing of a product more profitable. Which is fine. I just don't see the CONCERN FOR celiac/gluten sensitive PEOPLE. How about a whole grain sorghum pasta, or a sorghum food that doesn't contain sugar as the second ingredient, or a soup thickened with sorghum instead of wheat, or a whole grain sorghum crispy cracker!




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