by Kerry Hughes

According to a report called “Gluten-free Foods and Beverages” (July 2006) by Packaged Facts, the publishing division of, the market for gluten-free foods is growing somewhere between 25%-27% annually. One of the big challenges in formulating gluten-free products is achieving the same colors, flavors and textures as regular foods.

In many products, wheat, barley, rye and related grains are essential in providing specific flavors, colors or functions that cannot easily be duplicated by substituting corn, rice or other celiac-safe grains or starches. This is especially problematic for many of the daily staples enjoyed by non-celiacs, such as baked goods, bars, breakfast cereals and beer. “For most baked goods and cereals, the natural browning that occurs during the cooking processes are, in large part, responsible for the color and flavor of the product,” explains Bob Hansen, manager of technical services for Briess Malt & Ingredients Company. “Most alternatives to wheat flour and malt extract lack the natural reducing sugars, proteins and amino acids needed for sufficient browning.” For this reason, Briess has developed BriesSweet™ White Sorghum Syrup as a gluten-free malt extract substitute. The product is a grain sorghum syrup that is enzymatically produced from the starchy heads of the grain, not the cane, of the sorghum plant.

A viscous, golden liquid with a mild, pleasant grain flavor, grain sorghum syrup also can be used to supply color and flavor. “BriesSweet White Sorghum Syrup was originally developed for making gluten-free beer,” Hansen adds. “There are many sugars that can be fermented to make alcohol, but none of them have a color or flavor anything like malted barley.” Other sugars also lack the amino acids and minerals needed for proper yeast growth. Unrefined syrups such as malt extract and sorghum syrup are the most nutritious of all natural sweeteners, containing some of the original vitamins and minerals of the grain as well as proteins and amino acids.  

BriesSweet White Sorghum Syrup (WSS) is available in either 45DE (dextrose equivalent), High Maltose or 60DE. It can be substituted for the equivalent type (DE) of corn syrup in many types of applications such as bars, granolas, certain sauces and chocolate-flavored products. Both are hypoallergenic, non-GMO, kosher-certified and all-natural, made with 100% pure grain sorghum.

Hansen concluded, “There are new benefits of this new class of sweeteners, depending on the finished application. Not only do they provide humectancy, sweetening, increased viscosity and the other benefits of traditional starch-based sweeteners, but they can also provide improved flavor and color and increased nutrition while maintaining a clean, all-natural, non-GMO and hypoallergenic label.”

For more information:

Briess Malt & Ingredients Company,  Chilton, Wisc.

Ann Heus,  920-849-7711,