The growing demand for healthy, wholesome foods has driven functional foods into an exciting growth market, fueled partially by the demand for foods that contain whole grains. And while consumers desire the nutritional and fiber benefits of whole grain, they are not always willing to sacrifice flavor for health.

“Whole grain doesn't have to taste bland,” explains Bob Hansen, manager of technical services at Briess Malt & Ingredients Co. (Chilton, Wis.). “Many people are familiar with the wide variety of colors and flavors in craft brewed and imported beers. What they may not realize is that all the color and a majority of the flavor in these beverages are from the specially processed whole grains. Specially processed grains can contribute this same spectrum of colors and flavors to foods.” Briess is a 125-year-old producer of malt for the brewing industry and manufacturer of special processed grains for foods, beverages and pet foods.

The Rich, Full Flavor of Malt

For example, “Chocolate Malt” is malted barley that has been roasted to a deep brown color with intense cocoa flavor. It is used to make full flavored, deep colored beers like porter and stout. Those same flavor and color contributions make Chocolate Malt an excellent cocoa replacer when milled into fine flour. Formulators may begin replacing cocoa powder in 5% increments. Depending upon the finished product, Chocolate Malt Flour can replace up to 100% of a recipe's cocoa. Not only does this present the potential for significant cost savings, but it is a whole grain ingredient with high fiber content and natural nutritional value.

“This is just one example of whole grains being used to add color and flavor to foods,” explains David Kuske, director of malting operations at Briess. “By varying the malting process, grains are made into malts with a wide variety of flavors—malty, nutty, biscuity, toasty, toffee, caramel, chocolate and coffee.”

Sweet Success

To make these flavor and colors available for even wider applications, Briess further processes its malt and other whole grains into natural grain sweeteners including Malted Barley Extracts, Malted Barley/Grain Co-Extracts and Brown Rice Syrup. These natural grain sweeteners are more nutritious than their highly processed counterparts, such as corn syrup. Not only do natural grain sweeteners contain protein, vitamins and minerals, but they also retain many beneficial whole grain components such as phytochemicals and some soluble fiber. Other unmalted grains, such as oats, can be processed into natural grain sweeteners.

Briess' specially processed grain ingredients are all-natural and certified kosher. Due to malt's natural enzymes, Malted Barley Extracts and Malted Barley/Grain Co-Extracts are the grain-based sweeteners that can be produced and labeled as 100% organic.

Whole grains made easy

Special processing also can make whole grains processor-friendly. For example, Briess Insta Grains® Brown Rice products (flour, flakes and grits) have been pre-gelatinized so they require about half the cooking and gelatinization time of conventional brown rice. And, because the pre-gelatinization process deactivates the lipase enzymes, Insta Grains® ingredients are more shelf-stable. This allows them to be used in soup mixes, baked goods and other dry mixes—without the problem of spoilage and off-flavors normally associated with brown rice and brown rice flours.

For more information:
Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., Rick Young