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

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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