Italian team rates maize flour for functional, gluten free pasta

05 April 2011 (5/4/2011) reported on claims made by scientists involved in pasta research who have developed a gluten-free spaghetti with a high content of maize flour and acceptable sensory attributes that could be an alternative to conventional pasta due its superior nutritive value.

The research, which have been published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology Journal, found that gluten-free spaghetti samples made with a high content of maize flour had high values of elongation and shear viscosity, and therefore a higher firmness.Functional pasta using alternatives to wheat flour could offer and open up opportunities in the gluten-free market for pasta manufacturers.

The research team, from University of Foggia in Italy, claims that the appeal of pasta amongst consumers has made it a potential vehicle for highly nutritious compounds. Howev pasta based on non-conventional flours needs to achieve a proper compromise between satisfactory sensorial and functional properties, they added.

Good quality pasta is defined as having high degree of firmness and elasticity, which is mainly termed as ‘al dente’. An evaluation of pasta cooking quality requires consideration of factors including elasticity, firm pasta structure, reduced adhesiveness, water absorption, and low cooking loss.

In order to optimise the formulation of functional and gluten-free pasta, the researchers experimented with different quantities of various flour types including quinoa, heat-treated maize and defatted soy flours.The maize tested contains 7–13 g/100 g proteins, is rich in dietary fibre, vitamin B6, magnesium and it has very low fat content, while quinoa has a relatively high quantity of vitamins and minerals, iron and calcium. Soybean flours, are used in many countries due to the fact they are a good resource of vegetable proteins, fat, lysine and other components that may be effective in reducing the risk of coronary heart diseases and several cancers.

In order to prepare the non-conventional dough a portion of heat-treated maize flour was pre-gelatinised (PS). Water mixed with flour was heated at 80°C to obtain pre-gelatinised starch. Afterwards, the pre-gelatinised starch was cooled at about 40°C, and then added to the soy, quinoa and heat-treated maize flour and kneaded for 20 minutes. After kneading, the samples were extruded. The water content of all samples was 43.65 per cent (w/w dough basis). Dry and fresh spaghetti samples were assessed by a panel of ten trained tasters in order to evaluate the sensory attributes, which included colour, odour, homogeneity, resistance to break and overall acceptability of non-cooked spaghetti, both dry and fresh.

The results indicated that either the absence of quinoa or low quinoa flour content and a high amount of maize flour increase the dough firmness, while the researchers noted that pre-gelatinised maize improved the resistance to break and the taste of non-cooked and cooked spaghetti.It was also discovered that quinoa constituents bring about a bitter taste that affects negatively the overall acceptability of the pasta.

In terms of dry spaghetti, maximum value of overall acceptability was obtained at the maize flour PS concentration of 26.17 per cent, soy flour concentration of 4.25 per cent and at the lowest concentration of quinoa flour (0 per cent). While the best acceptability scores for fresh spaghetti were obtained with a high concentration of maize flour PS (30.78 per cent) and at the lowest concentration of quinoa flour (0 per cent), concluded the researchers.

Source: International Journal of Food Science & Technology
Published online ahead of print: DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.2011.02613.x
Title: Formulation optimisation of gluten-free functional spaghetti based on quinoa, maize and soy flours
Authors: M. Mastromatteo, S. Chillo, M. Iannetti, V. Civica, M. Alessandro Del Nobile