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

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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

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