In 2013, gluten-free food sales – versions of foods such as cereal or pasta that aren’t naturally gluten-free – accounted for 2.8 percent of total food sales, according to Mintel research. By 2015, gluten-free food sales grew to 6.5 percent of total food sales. The numbers prove it: wheat-sensitive, celiac and other health-conscious customers want gluten-free versions of their favorite foods. This rise in gluten-free popularity has resulted in fierce competition among brands of all sorts for the gluten-free (and allergen-free) customer.
It’s All in the Ingredients
“Will my recipe work?” It’s one of the most common questions asked by those new to the world of gluten-free cooking. Not too long ago, many gluten-free products left customers with a bad taste in their mouths due to an extreme lack of available ingredients, options and variety. Fortunately, times change, and there are now a number of gluten-free ingredients that work exceptionally well in traditional applications. If you have a recipe that you want to reformulate to gluten-free, experimentation can lead to wonderful things.
That said, it helps to have at least a basic idea of how the different types of ingredients perform. Proper ingredient selection requires more than picking products with the best pricing or selecting the latest trendy items. You want to make sure what you use is truly gluten-free and that it works to produce the flavor and texture profile that your customers crave.
Let’s take a look at a few ancient grain, gluten-free flours and what they’re best used for.
Gluten-Free Amaranth Flour
Amaranth is an ancient grain that’s been a dietary staple since the time of the Aztecs. Amaranth flour is made by milling the plant’s seeds. It’s rich in calcium, iron and protein and has a distinct taste that can overpower if it’s not balanced with a sweetener like brown sugar or maple syrup.
Gluten-Free Teff Flour
This tiny grain is available in both light and dark varieties and carries a slightly nutty flavor. Like amaranth, it is high in protein and calcium. Try it in pancake mix, cake mix or cookies.
Gluten-Free Millet Flour
Millet is considered an “ancient grain” – it was one of the first grains cultivated by humans. The flour produced by its tiny yellow seed is versatile and mild-flavored.
Gluten-Free Quinoa Flour
Ancient grain quinoa carries protein and fiber, and it’s not just for side dishes anymore. The flour has a strong, nutty taste and some find that toasting the quinoa helps mellow it out a bit. It works well for both sweet pastries and savory breads and crackers.
Gluten-Free Buckwheat Flour
Ancient grain buckwheat actually hails from the rhubarb family and has no relation to wheat. It is a gluten-free staple for its high protein and fiber and robust, nutty flavor.
Gluten-Free Sorghum Flour
Sorghum flour has a delicate, sweet flavor that translates well into pastries and cookies.
Gluten-Free Organic/Conventional Brown Rice
In gluten-free pastry recipes, brown rice is often a stand-in for all-purpose wheat flour. It has a rich flavor and performs well in baking or as a thickening agent. When milled super-fine and blended with spices, it also performs well as a coating.
Gluten-Free Organic Garbanzo Beans
When milled super-fine, garbanzo flours are excellent in gluten-free pasta and cracker recipes because of their smooth, mild flavor.
Gluten-Free Starches and Gums
Starches and gums work to build that just-right texture and mouthfeel your product requires.
We encourage you to embrace the scientific method as you experiment to find the flavor and texture that delivers the experience you want. Firebird offers a wide variety of organic, ancient grain four-grain blends, pizza crusts, or brownie mixes that can give you a foundation from which to build. The possibilities are endless!
Visit our products page to check out our full line of gluten-free products, many of which are available in both organic and conventional forms. Not only can we mill your ancient grain, gluten-free flours, we can blend to your specification and package for bulk or retail.
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