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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An Ode to Corn

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Dear corn – yellow number two,
This is our heartfelt love letter to you.

Small and yellow,
Sweet little fellow;
Beloved local grain,
Grown in Green Lake, Columbia or Dane.

This wee kernel has a big job to do,
Destined to be food and fuel for you!
Adding fiber to granola bars,
Or putting gas into your cars.

Some like corn on the side of steak,
Some like corn in their cake.
Corn is perfect battered on a dog,
While at the fair or sitting on a log.

Corn for breakfast, corn for lunch,
Gee, we sure like corn a bunch!
Gluten-free and kosher too,
Is there anything this kernel can’t do?

So lift a glass of your favorite brew,
Made with corn grits just for you!
Let’s celebrate this grand little kernel,
To which we dedicate our love eternal.

By: Katie Dogs, Public Relations Manager 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

A Fresh Look at the Gluten-Free Diet Trend

Certified-Gluten-Free-Logo-300-dpi-ncGluten-free this, gluten-free that, go gluten-free. This trend seems to be popping up in the news, grocery stores and bakeries. Recently, Dunkin’ Donuts became one of the first food chains to introduce gluten-free bakery items on their menu. But what does this all mean? What is gluten and why is it important?

Gluten is a specific protein found in wheat, barley and rye that causes gastrointestinal complications in people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder.

Only one percent of the U.S. population has this disease and it is four times more prevalent now than in the 1950s. So why are so many people going gluten-free when few are actually affected by it?

The answer is actually quite simple; demand for gluten-free products is growing. According to Celiac Central, the autoimmune disorder is becoming more prevalent among Americans. Gluten-free diets have been pegged as one of the top five health trends of 2013 due to perceived health benefits and diagnosis increase.

basket of corn muffins

Nearly 18 percent of consumers eat gluten-free foods as compared to 15 percent in October 2010, says Packaged Facts, while 30 percent are trying to avoid foods containing gluten according to a NPD Group research survey. Restaurants are now offering 275 percent more gluten-free menu options than in 2009.

There are many wheat substitutes, like nut, buckwheat, millet and rice flours, on the market for those looking to eliminate gluten from their diets. Corn is naturally gluten-free, unlike wheat, barley and rye; giving those with celiac disease an affordable option to these specialty products.

Since corn has similar properties to wheat, it makes an excellent ingredient in gluten-free foods. Corn works well in cake mixes, breadings and thickeners because of its viscosity.

Didion Milling has responded to this trend by working with the Gluten Intolerance Group to receive gluten-free certification. As of June 19, Didion products are now certified gluten-free. To read more about Didion Milling’s gluten-free corn products, visit our website.