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Review harvest and ancient grains seminar 2014

After a warm welcome at the eighth Harvest Seminar organised by EBIC Peter Weegels shared that the regular program was extended with new information and insights about ancient grains. In general terms there is an increased yield per hectare (11 tons). Read the full review!

First experiences with baking quality of wheat and rye flour from German harvest

(Dipl. Ing. Günter Unbehend, Max Rubner Institute, Germany)
This year’s harvest of Germany was a good one, but not better than 2013. The key figures of wheat in 2014 are almost identical to 2013 except for the volume. This is slightly less in 2014. The water absorption of dough is identical, the mixing times can be a little bit shorter. The advice to millers is to maintain an addition of 30-40 ppm of ascorbic acid on wheat flour, just like 2013. This is because the slightly lower protein quality. In The Netherlands an addition of 120-130 ppm ascorbic acid is the advice for wholemeal, in Germany 80 ppm.

Rye has generally a lot of enzyme activity, which makes the use of lactic acid or sourdough necessary for good baking properties. The water absorption is slightly lower so therefore bakers should use less water and avoid adding too much return bread.

Wheat quality of French harvest 2014 and the impact on improvers

(Dr. Ir. Peter Weegels, European Bakery Innovation Centre, Netherlands)

France had a good harvest this year, but had a lot of rain during the harvest so there was a lot of sprout damage in the harvested wheat. The protein quality generally seen a little bit worse than last year. The amount of protein is equal to 2013. The wheat flour doesn’t give real elastics dough and low falling number values. 40-50% of grains have a lower falling number than 180s. This is way too low to process it in your bakery. The enzyme activity is high and the water absorption is about 1% lower. Because the protein quality is slightly lower the dough is faster mixed to the optimum. The baking properties are good enough, but it depends substantially on the origin of the wheat. Advice is to increase the amount of ascorbic acid, add gluten and lower the malt.

Peter Weegels

Results of the harvest quality in The Netherlands

(Bob Reijm, European Bakery Innovation Centre, Netherlands)

The harvest transition went smooth in The Netherlands. Because the slightly lower protein quality the dough should be mixed slightly shorter. Further changes in the process are not necessary. The protein quality of wheat flour and wholemeal flour is getting lower every year which is remarkably. Although the protein quality is decreasing every year for the last couple of years the quality is still within the margin for acceptable bread. During the whole year more fluctuations in quality appear to happen.

Quinoa: the first experiences with Dutch harvested Quinoa

(Rens Kuijten, Dutch Quinoa Group, Netherlands)

Quinoa is a source of high quality vegetable protein from South America. Amino acid nutritional quality of Quinoa is comparable with that of  milk and is well absorbed and digested by human body. Quinoa is not a grain but a vegetable plant. The leaves of this plant are edible as spinach. The seed is neutral in taste, slightly like nuts and have very balanced nutrition values. Cooked Quinoa has a soft bite. Because it is not a grain quinoa does not contain gluten. Next to that it is a crop that grows on places where even grass does not grow, even on saline soil.

The Dutch variants have been developed to bring quinoa to attention of the Dutch consumers, to gain more knowledge and to make it tangible. The currents yields are too low and will be imporoveded further by breeding. These variants are less bitter than the variants of South-America. Quinoa can be used as flake, crushed, roasted and cooked.

Quality and usage of Oat

(Dr. Ir. Luud Gilissen, Wageningen University & Research Centre, Netherlands)

Oat is very interesting for the coeliac disease because it contains no gluten. Oat is 100% gluten free and edible for people with coeliac. Oat is a grain with special properties. It contains oil in the endosperm and contains high amounts of beta glucan which comes with European health claims.

Oat is a European crop that was developed about 3000 years ago. When the agriculture was mechanised the working horses disappeared and with that the oat they were fed. Oat can be an important source for healthy food, but has a low yield per hectare and a very low price per kilo to be able to compete with other grains like wheat.

Oat contains a high amount of protein, and is well absorbed and digested by human body. The starch is slowly digestible and provides, together with the fibres, a feeling of fullness. Next to that oat is good for the cardiovascular system, lowers the cholesterol and fits in a gluten free diet.

Spelt: The better alternative of wheat

(Frank van Eerd, Spelt bakery Bisschopsmolen Maastricht, Netherlands)

Spelt is a grain and close family to wheat. Spelt supplies only half the amount of yield compared to wheat. Spelt must first be peeled before it can be crushed. Spelt flour and meal contains less salt which means that 2% salt on recipe can be used and still meets the (Dutch) legal standards. The difference of spelt and wheat is mainly found in proteins, especially the gluten. Wheat contains gluten, but wheat is bred during the years to “to obtain wheat for making bread with very fast processes. Spelt also contains gluten but needs a slow process. This process starts with mixing. A spiral mixer is taboo. A very low intensity mixer and a mixing time of 25 minutes is necessary for a good spelt bread.

With standard wholemeal flour the germ is removed for preservative purposes. In wholemeal of a traditional miller everything of the grain is used including the germ. This  process leads to more healthy bread. Unpeeled and unmixed spelt has a longer shelf life than normal wheat. After peeling the shelf life becomes shorter. At the moment there are four varieties of pure Spelt without crossbreeding of wheat species.


Nutritional values of grains in perspective

(Prof. Dr. Fred Brouns, Health Food Innovation Management, Maastricht University, Netherlands)

Many publications are not based on facts or truth (e.g. book Wheatbelly) but consumers without knowledge about these topics believe those books easily. Especially through social networks these topics are trending. Most of the statements can be debunked:

  • It’s proved that wheat is already used as food for 45.000 years;
  • Modern wheat contains even less unhealthy ingredients than older ancient grains;
  • There is no genetically modified wheat on the world market;
  • It’s not proven that spelt is more healthy than wheat, this statement requires more research;
  • Lecithin is a protected component of a plant (immune system of the plant) that falls apart by heating. This substance is not only present in wheat but also in various vegetables and fruit;
  • The fact that consumers point out that they have less complaints by the use of other grains than wheat has to be taken seriously and needs more research and investigation;
  • 20-30% of the wholegrain in a product creates a slower digestion of and glucose influx in the body;
  • Regular consumption of wholemeal bread is good to prevent diabetes, cancer, obese and cardiovascular diseases.

Trends and developments in trade of old and new grains

(Ir. Alex Blonk, Committé van Graanhandelaren & Blonk Agri, Netherlands)

Netherlands is a small player in the world of cereal trade. Most grain in The Netherlands is used for animal feed, approximately 90%. The remaining 10% is used for human consumption of which 80% is imported. Dutch grain is generally less suitable for bread production.

Kamut: an unknown ancient wheat

(Gérald Cartaud, Kamut Enterprises of Europe BVBA, Belgium) 

Kamut is the brand name of Khorasan wheat, also known as King Tut wheat with the corresponding story that it was found in a pyramid. This wheat was much cultivated till the moment that the fields were irrigated. Because of this the demand moved to wheat species that were more resistant to water and had higher yields.

After that an American farmer thought it would be profitable to cultivate Kamut. This crop seem to be growing perfectly on the dry grounds near the border of America and Canada. For now the vast amount of harvest is used for pasta (instead of Durum), next to that it’s used for bread.

Khorasan wheat has a nutlike taste and has a high protein and anti-oxidant value. It has a lower yield per hectare than wheat. Kamut is a concept from farmer, miller to bakery so everybody can get a fair price.

Teff: Harvest and usage

(Ir. Hans Turkensteen, Prograin International, Netherlands)

Teff is a small (grass) seed that is cultivated in the horn of Africa. It’s consumed daily by 85 million people and has a typical taste. Teff is called the oldest ancient grain.

Teff is patented in nine European countries and is limited cultivated. It’s applied as 30% in normal bread recipes which slows the digestibility of the starch and gives a slow glycemic response. Teff is therefore really well suited for application in normal bakery recipes to increase the value for the consumer.

Concluding word

Looking back at this seminar it is the first in Europe that gives an overview of the quality of the main wheat cultivating countries; Germany and France. This gives a mixed picture, with a normal quality crop in Germany. In France however there are regions where we can talk about crop failure for wheat.

Regarding ancient grains various speakers passionate explain the qualities of "their" crop in the field of nutritional properties and applications in the bakery. At the same time Fred Brouns brought the audience back to scientific reality regarding the health and nutrition claims of ancient grains and seeds.


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