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Salt reduction in bread
Bread and cereal products are a significant contributor to the Australian daily diet, making this category a prime target for reducing sodium intake through long-term strategies and reformulation. Long-term strategies rely on re-educating the consumer palate to accept the taste of reduced sodium chloride over a period of time. While covert salt-reduction does work, it has limits before sensory outcomes become unacceptable, and as expected, takes a long time to get there. Reformulation aims to maintain the salty taste of bread and the integrity of the texture, but with non-sodium alternatives.
In bread, salt in responsible for the stability that provides for smaller pores and an even crumb, both considered marks of good quality bread. Therefore, the action of sodium on the production process is an important consideration for producers of baked goods. Besides ensuring flavour, any bread reformulation will require a process adaptation to maintain appropriate texture, lift and volume; colour; and, of course, food safety.
Glutamates, the salts from glutamic-acid, occur naturally in fermented foods, such as sourdough. With clean-label status, naturally-occurring glutamates appeal to both consumers and producers. Sourdough bread is produced with a natural starter-culture of bacteria with yeast, and has a long fermentation time. Standard wheat-breads, in contrast, are made with manufactured yeast and shorter fermentation times, producing fewer glutamates. Sourdough has long been a successful recipe, and as a reduced-salt baked good, has risen in popularity with consumers. Bread reformulations involving sourdough-cultures may present the most palatable option for sodium reduction, but there are others.
The blandness of low-salt formulations can be combated with taste enhancers. These flavour enhancers come in commercial bread-flavour preparations, and with the addition of spices, malt or barley. Salt enhancers, on the other hand, can boost the salty flavour of a reduced-salt formulation. This is what the glutamates from sourdough do, but there is also monosodium glutamate, lactates, yeast extracts, and soy-based flavourings. Salt and taste enhancers, however, will need to be included on labelling. Similarly, mineral salts including potassium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride or magnesium sulphate must also be declared on labelling, but they do have effective antifungal properties—an important attribute that will need to be balanced with the bitterness in flavour that comes with them.
Read more on salt reduction in bakery goods or connect with our community to discuss the options that may be the most relevant for you.