Cigi has been carrying out its most comprehensive investigation into quality characteristics and functionality of pulses and pulse flours as ingredients in baked products together with Warburtons, the U.K.’s largest bakery brand.
In August 2016, Warburtons announced a contribution of $680,000 in in-kind support and funds for a pilot-scale fermentation tank while Saskatchewan Pulse Growers allocated $1.8 million for the three-year project. In addition, the governments of Canada and Manitoba provided $270,000 through the Grain Innovation Hub, the Western Grains Research Foundation, $158,000, and the Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers, $25,000.
Focusing on yellow peas, navy beans, red lentils and chickpeas, the study adds to the work Cigi has undertaken over the past decade in collaboration with pulse growers and industry on the functionality and application of pulse flours, says Ashok Sarkar, Senior Advisor in Technology at Cigi. It also reflects growing consumer demand for new and innovative bakery products.
“This project is more structured and includes components such as a G X E (genotype X environment) study of pulses as well as pre- and post-milling treatments of pulses and how this affects the final product with respect to flavour, functionality and end-product quality,” he says. “We know a lot about wheat but not as much about pulses as ingredients so we want to learn more. Pulses are very new in that respect. We have started looking at the impact of storage time and particle size on pulse quality and flavour when they are used in baking or for other end products.”
Enhancing common wheat-based food products by adding pulse ingredients – which are high in protein and fibre – or using them to create new products can open the door to greater demand for pulses and more opportunities for food processors, says Ashok.
Elaine Sopiwnyk, Cigi Director of Grain Quality, says that there are some positive features to combining pulses with wheat in food products. “They are complementary to wheat in terms of amino acids so when you combine them you have a full or balanced protein.”
She says that specific project activities aim to generate new information. “What we know about pulses relates to their use primarily in their whole form, either dehulled or split and for traditional uses like for soups or for export. We know they have significant health benefits but there are other aspects to look at when they are used as ingredients. For example, what is the end-use result when they are milled finely – will there be more or less flavour and will the functionality be better or worse.”
The information will be compiled into a database and made available to industry, Ashok says. “From beginning to end we’re mapping everything out. We’ll know the raw material profile, the processing profile, and specifications of the flour. The information coming out of this research will help guide us and establish some standard specifications for pulse flour that will be suitable for baking applications.”
Additional research activity is also being conducted at the universities of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and at Warburtons’ facilities in the U.K. in support of the work at Cigi.
Working with Warburtons also helps bring the information to commercial reality, Ashok says. Warburtons has worked closely with Cigi for a number of years on an annual harvest analysis and end-use evaluation of Canadian wheat varieties the company contracts for use in its baked products.
“Pulses are a great way to create a product with high protein and fibre,” says Adam Dyck, Warburtons Program Manager (Canada). Last September the company launched four different new protein bread products containing pulse ingredients. All of the pulse flours used are from crops grown and processed in Canada.
Adam says that although the addition of pulses can present challenges in baked goods, he is pleased with the final quality of the new products. “We successfully increased the levels of protein and fibre with pulse ingredients while maintaining Warburtons’ superior quality that makes it the top selling bakery brand in the U.K.”