A Corny Kickoff to Grilling Season

Memorial Day weekend is the big kick off to grill-out season; a time filled with barbecues, family get-togethers, burgers and Didion’s favorite thing – corn!Charcoal-Grill-embers

There are many ways that you and your family can enjoy corn this summer: corn on the cob, cornbread, hushpuppies and . . . charcoal?

Yes it’s true! When you get the charcoal out to grill you’re using corn, usually in the form of pregelatinized (precooked) yellow corn flour. Corn is commonly used in charcoal as a binding agent to help the briquettes retain their shape so they’re easy to use.

Next time you’re grilling a burger or steak ’til it’s just right, remember the crucial part that corn played in your grilled perfection.

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend!

By: Katie Dogs, Public Relations Manager at Didion Milling

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Corn Milling 101 Part 5: Corn Properties in Baking

Corn flour is an important ingredient in many foods found on the shelves of your local grocery store. Why is it so great?

Three types of corn are commonly used as a bakery ingredient: yellow corn, white corn and alkali-processed corn. We’ll focus on the type that Didion processes – yellow dent corn.CornBreadMuffins_DT

Yellow corn flour’s short-texture proteins give baked goods a crumblier feel than traditional wheat flour. Corn also adds a sweet, nutty flavor to recipes – perfect for breads, muffins or adding in to other recipes.

In addition to taste and texture properties, yellow corn flour has a number of health benefits for those who require a gluten-free diet. Corn is naturally gluten-free – because it does not contain gliaden or glutenin, the two specific wheat proteins that have been shown to cause sensitivity to gluten. Yellow corn flour brings protein and starch to recipes without causing sensitivity, making them perfect for gluten-free baking.

It has great taste, texture and nutritional benefits. It is a simple, recognizable ingredient on nutrition labels. No wonder yellow corn flour is found in many products on your grocery store shelves. It’s naturally good, made great!

By: Todd Giesfeldt, Mill R&D Senior Manager

Tales From the Road: Petfood Forum

Pet Food Forum
Greetings from Chicago! I’m excited to be at my first show with Didion, the 2014 Petfood Forum, introducing Didion’s new line of yeast products harvested from our ethanol fermentation process.

Kibble Kick is a yeast protein that enhances the taste profile of pet foods, while delivering vitamins, trace minerals, digestible proteins and amino acids. It is highly palatable and helps promote healthy skin and shiny coats.

ThriveStock is a high-quality livestock feed ingredient that provides digestible proteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals along with distiller’s yeast and fermentative nutrients. It aids digestive tract function and promotes immune function.

Riley and I had a great day yesterday and are looking forward to day 2 of the show – stop by and visit us at booth #638!

By Chris Gudaitis, Business Development Manager at Didion Milling

A Pot O’HarvestGold

pot-o-harvest

Irish legends about Leprechauns and their pots of gold remind us of our very own pot of gold – that is, HarvestGold. Have you ever wondered where the brand name “HarvestGold” comes from? Mama Didion was Irish, but our Celtic heritage wasn’t the main inspiration for this name.

Harvest alludes to the personal relationships we have with local farmers. Our knowledgeable grain procurement team watches the markets and works closely with local farmers to make the best corn marketing decisions. We purchase grain directly from farmers as much as we can because we know that leads to greater profitability for farmers and higher quality products for our customers.

Gold refers to both the rich golden color of our corn products and the gold quality standards we uphold. Our quality assurance team has rigorous and comprehensive product testing procedures. Learn more in Corn Milling 101 Part 4: Product Quality Tests.

Unlike the hidden pots of gold in Irish legends, Didion HarvestGold corn products can be found all over, in both food and industrial products. Didion’s corn ingredients can be found in your favorite cereals, snacks, baked goods, cornbread and muffin mixes, pizza, breadings and batters. Didion corn grits are also used in the brewing industry as an ingredient in many local and national beer brands.

There are many industrial uses for corn as well. Corn is used in foundry molds for sinks and bathtubs and helps hold the shape of charcoal briquettes and plywood. It is also used as a carrier in the production of cat litter and rodent control products.

Whether you enjoy a Pot O’HarvestGold or a green beer, we wish you the luck of the Irish as you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.

Slainte!

Happy National Cereal Day!

Didion Cereal Landscape

Did you know that the first breakfast cereal was invented in the United States way back in 1863? James Caleb Jackson came up with ‘Granula’ – bran-rich graham flour shaped into nuggets and soaked in milk overnight before being eaten.

Today there are hundreds of cereals for consumers to choose from, our favorites of course being the many that count corn as an ingredient. Besides being naturally gluten-free and very cost-effective, corn brings a sweet, nutty flavor and gives cereal that crispy crunch. It’s also available in many forms:

Corn meal: produces the cereal’s uniform shape during extrusion cooking (the process that makes your cereal “puffy”)

Corn flour: gives the cereal the right texture

Corn bran: allows the cereal to be fortified with more dietary fiber

Whole grain corn meal/flour: gives all the nutrients and minerals along with fiber

So today on National Cereal Day, raise your spoons and enjoy a delicious bowl of your favorite cereal!

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

Let Them Eat Cake

whitecake2It’s a new year and most of us have made resolutions to eat healthier. But it seems like we’ve just survived the holiday eating frenzy when . . . here comes Valentine’s Day, full of heart-shaped goodies.

However there is a simple way to add healthy value to foods without altering the taste – corn bran. It’s a natural and nutritious way to add whole grain appeal to food products and is a great source of fiber.

Corn bran allows for the addition of consistent, high-quality, total dietary fiber. This insoluble fiber is a food-grade, chemical-free, natural product that is light in color with a slightly nutty taste. It’s the perfect fiber additive: a low-fat, low-cost alternative to other grain fiber products.

But can you get that fiber without sacrificing flavor?

The National Corn Growers Association recently posted a great article on the subject via their blog Corn Commentary, called ‘Corn Bran Takes the Cake’.

It touched on the USDA’s research that found replacing 20 percent of flour in a classic white cake recipe with highly ground corn bran provided the optimal balance of fiber and flavor.

It turns out you really can have your cake and eat it too!

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Didion Milling

Gluten-Free, Naturally!

Corn is naturally gluten-free right off the stalk. That makes it the perfect ingredient in a wide variety of gluten-free applications. Corn can help increase protein levels and replace wheat protein functionality. Various grains and starches can be used to get gluten-free products closer to the desired functionality and taste profile of gluten-containing foods, but few are as cost effective and label friendly as corn.

Corn’s naturally gluten-free properties don’t guarantee that all corn products on the market are gluten free. Some are processed in a facility that handles gluten materials. Grains can become mixed to some degree in the distribution channel. It’s difficult for multi-grain manufacturers to make sure their products are wheat free. Corn, because of its distribution channel, has minimal risk of cross contamination; especially when manufactured in a gluten-free facility. Our quality assurance team tests products to make sure they’re within gluten-free guidelines as well as customer specifications.

Corn flours are a great candidate for gluten-free recipes, bringing protein and starch to the recipe. That makes it a great ingredient for pasta applications. Viscosity-controlled corn flour provides a more uniform product in kneading machines and automated dough processing equipment. Our pregels – corn flour that’s been heat and moisture treated to give it specific properties – have great binding properties and provides stabilizing functionality. It all depends on the formula you’re putting together.

Corn bran brings fiber to the label and aids in moisture retention with its high water-binding capacity. It binds water more efficiently compared to carbohydrates. It also keeps starch from leaching out during boiling.

What about corn gluten? It contains different proteins than wheat gluten. Wheat, like other cereal grains, contains more than 100 different proteins.  Two specific wheat proteins, gliaden and glutenin, have been shown to cause sensitivity. These two proteins are not found in corn. While there is a corn gluten protein, it has not been associated with the health issues caused by wheat gluten.

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

Corn Milling 101 Part 3: Cleaning, Cracking & Sifting

The first step in corn processing is cleaning. We remove any cobs or stalks and sort out broken kernels using a screener and separator. Then the corn goes through a magnet to pull out any remaining foreign material. When the cleaning process is finished, the whole corn kernels should be all that’s left.

The clean, whole kernel corn is then sent to the tempering system to loosen the skin, otherwise known as bran or pericarp. A small amount of water is added to the corn and then it sits in a holding tank for a period of time.

After the skin has been loosened, the corn goes to Didion’s degermination system. The corn is cracked into large pieces. During this process, the loose skin comes off the kernel and the germ pops out. For more information on the parts of the corn kernel, check out Milling 101 Part 2: Where Our Food and Fuel Products Come From.

The fractionated pieces are sifted to sort out any fine, floury materials. These soft, starchy pieces are sent to our ethanol plant because they are optimal for fermentation. For more information on how we maximize every kernel of corn through the partnership between our dry corn mill and ethanol plant, check out Milling 101 Part 1: A Fresh Look at Corn Milling.

Next, the bran is removed using an aspiration system. Then it is transferred to its own system within the mill. The remaining starch goes through a series of grinding and sifting. Pieces are sorted using wire screens of various sizes to separate “unders” or “fines” from the “overs” and “select” pieces. These terms refer to where the pieces sit on the wire screens during sifting.

The fines go to the ethanol plant for fermentation while the overs and select pieces are used to make food products in the dry corn mill. Our millers prefer the select size pieces, which is a nice center cut of the kernel. These “center cut” pieces are made from the hard starch. This enables our millers to make a very consistent finished product for customers and product consumers. This is part of the Didion Difference.

By: Curt Miller, Corn Milling Operations Manager at Didion Milling

We’ve Achieved a Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000!

Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 is a comprehensive food safety management system. It incorporates the ideals of continuous improvement and prevention to develop a proactive and effective food safety plan. FSSC 22000 is one of four Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized food safety schemes and is the only ISO-based system. FSSC 22000 was selected of the four acceptable GFSI schemes due to Didion’s short-term plans to achieve certification in other ISO-based systems.

FSSC 22000 encompasses two standards, ISO 22000:2005 (Management system) and ISO/TS 22002-1:2009 (Prerequisite programs), but in itself really is a three-part system.
• Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan
• Prerequisite Programs (PRPs)
• Management System

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan
Risk analysis of ingredient and production processes

HACCP is a systematic, preventative approach to food safety that uses the idea of hazard analysis to identify physical, chemical and biological hazards/risks associated with a food manufacturing process. Hazards identified in the HACCP plan are assessed for severity and likelihood to determine the risk associated. Risk is then mitigated through the incorporation of control programs (PRPs), which when monitored and validated for effectiveness, ensure product safety to the greatest possible efficacy.

Prerequisite Programs (PRPs)
Programs in place as foundation of the HACCP plan to mitigate risks

Prerequisite programs (PRPs) are a series of in-depth programs that provide the foundation for the food safety program and are standard practices necessary to ensure safe products. Prerequisite programs provide the groundwork for the entire system and are also the real driving force behind the food safety program based upon the HACCP plan.

Management System
System focused on the management and assurance of food safety

The management system ensures the necessary processes, resources, approach and culture are in place to support the food safety system.

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

Going Whole Grain

Consumers are increasingly seeking healthy food products and food manufacturers are continuing to invest in research and development to meet this need. Why? Many people consume too calories and too much sugar, fat and sodium.

Among these changing product formulations is the use of whole grains. The USDA recommends that half of all grains consumed be whole grains but most Americans are barely eating one serving of whole grain per day and nine out of ten Americans aren’t getting enough whole grain.

Research shows that eating whole grains as part of a healthy diet can improve heart health, weight management and diabetes management, while reducing risks of some cancers. Additional studies have shown that children and adolescents that eat cereal for breakfast have a lower Body Mass Index and waist circumference than those who don’t eat cereal at breakfast or who skip breakfast.

Many cereal companies are trying to include whole grain more than any other ingredient at a minimum level of 10 grams per serving up to 16 grams per serving.

Another area American diets fall short is in fiber consumption. Dietary fiber is important to digestive health and can help curb hunger. Some research suggests that people who have a higher intake of fiber also tend to have a healthier body weight.

The FDA and USDA are creating new goals to improve health and nutrition claim criteria for food products. Food reformulations are also changing because food processors are responding to USDA standards for K-12 school meals, which include meeting whole grain requirements.

Consumers are reading food labels more than ever, so food manufacturers are asking for more recognizable, label-friendly ingredients, like corn.

In response to this, Didion Milling has added whole grain to their family of corn products, specifically made for the cereal market.

Another emerging whole grain need is adding fiber from whole grain ingredients into foods that people are already eating, rather than creating new whole-grain-based foods. This is especially prevalent in cereals and snack foods, both popular applications for Didion’s dry milled corn.

Whole grain corn is an economical, label-friendly way to add whole grain to products. To learn more about Didion’s whole grain corn flour visit our website.

By: Riley Didion, Sales Manager at Didion Milling