Adding acacia gum to gluten-free and white bread can improve softness by 25% and extend shelf life by 50%, reports Food Navigator.
Results are best with acacia gum at a concentration of 1% to 3%, according to a study commissioned by French supplier Alland & Robert. Acacia gum is heat stable, contains about 90% fiber and can be used in products with an acidic pH.
- Acacia gum is also known as gum arabic, and is known for its low-cost stabilizing, emulsifying and thickening properties. A previous study has also backed the use of acacia gum combined with tapioca starch to improve the texture of baked goods.
Finding a way to improve the texture of gluten-free bread is an ongoing challenge for bakers, with many gluten-free varieties suffering from a dry crumb structure and coarse texture. Gluten is the protein in wheat that helps give provide elasticity and give bread volume, and replacing it has proved difficult. Mintel’s global products database suggests that acacia gum is already common in baked goods, with 2771 products containing the ingredient.
Gums are widely used for improving the texture of gluten-free bread, and these textural improvements are thought to be at least partly behind the rapid increase in sales in the gluten-free category over the past ten years or so. Apart from acacia, other commonly used gums include xanthan, guar, locust bean and cellulose gum, sometimes in conjunction with other ingredients like starches, oils, enzymes or skimmed milk powder.
Sourced in the African Sahel belt, acacia gum has been used in food since prehistoric times. Today, it is an emulsifier in products including confectionery, icing, chewing gum and beverages — as well as in a wide range of non-food products, from fireworks and ceramics to stamps and watercolor paint.
Suppliers say it has enormous potential as a clean label, organic, sustainably sourced ingredient that also provides income in developing countries. Add to that this latest research into its functional properties, and it is a promising option for gluten-free bakers — although even suppliers acknowledge that there is no one ingredient that can replicate the taste, texture and shelf life of ordinary, gluten-containing bread.