Optimisation of barley and buckwheat processing for sustainable use in high quality functional foods

Project co-financed by:

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Description of the project (SICRIC):

In Slovenia and in Europe it is a problem that in the processing of cereals and non-cereal grain for conventional or functional food products, large quantities of by-products end up as animal feed or even waste. In food processing industries that generate voluminous by-products and wastes, valorisation can help facilitate the sustainable use of available natural resources, and offset growing environmental and food security problems. Furthermore, there is a series of underexploited opportunities for use of buckwheat and barley fractions to increase nutritional and overall quality of foods. To communicate nutritional and/or health benefits to consumers, the effects need to be sufficiently substantiated scientifically.

Project goals:

  1. To develop state-of-the-art processing techniques for common and Tartary buckwheat and barley that will enable the production of attractive functional ingredients (rich in flavonoids, peptides and quality protein, fibre, etc.), with special attention to optimal utilisation of grain, including the utilisation of by-products.
  2. To exploit the use of such functional ingredients for production of high quality food products, which need to be attractive to consumers. 

A new research and technological approach is suggested:

Grain processing techniques: Novel milling and particle separation techniques to produce materials and by-products, and the spectra of possible products that could be derived from them. Grain fractions will be minced by disc mills and a combination of diverse milling techniques. Afterwards air flow separation will separate particles into fractions with diverse chemical composition.

Use of functional ingredients in foods: Diverse uses of grain fractions will be exploited. One way of preparing bread involves sourdough fermentation, which can be accompanied by the formation of flavour compounds such as lactic and acetic acid, which have an impact on dough processing and preparing of sourdough bread. Cereals can be processed by sourdough fermentation into foods suitable for consumption. The hydrolysis of proteins and possibly starch during sourdough fermentation has an impact on elasticity observed in the sourdough. Sourdough lactic acid bacteria were shown to have the capacity to release peptides with antioxidant activity through the proteolysis of cereal proteins.

The combined effects of sourdough fermentation and the baking process on the flavonoid concentration and antioxidant properties of sourdough, bread dough, and sourdough bread have not yet been studied. The use of buckwheat and barley in bread and other foods contributes to the reduction of the rise in blood glucose after a meal; however, it is not clear under which conditions such an effect is sufficient to the extent that its communication would be relevant for the consumer. For example, strict food regulations in the EU (Reg. EU 1924/2006) currently limit such a barley-related claim to foods that contain at least 4 g of beta-glucans from barley for each 30 g of available carbohydrates. Meeting such conditions in products that would be acceptable for consumers is currently not possible. It is therefore very important to investigate, whether lowering the glycaemic response can also be observed in different conditions.

The work related to buckwheat and barley is expected to result in a new segment of high quality products with added value: these will be offered to the global market and help the company grow and compete more successfully. In this way the project will also support the Slovenian economy. Furthermore, development of high quality foods is important for society and will support public health, both nationally and globally.

 

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Nutrition institute is engaged in research and education in the field of nutrition and advising the food industry in the formulation and labeling of foods. In the scope of the institute, research group Healthy Nutrition is established, which performs research on food and nutrition.