Acacia gum improves texture and shelf-life of bread, says supplier

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Adding between one and 3% of acacia gum to either gluten-free or white bread can improve softness and extend shelf-life, according to French supplier Alland & Robert.

The company commissioned trials on two types of acacia gum - seyal and Senegal – at concentrations of 1%, 3% and 6% that were added to white sandwich bread and gluten-free bread. The sensory analysis and product testing was carried out by LEMPA1, an independent laboratory that specialises in testing bakery products.

Adding one to 3% of seyal acacia gum can result in gains of up to 25% softness as well as a 50% improvement in the short-term preservation of bread that typically has a shelf-life of a few days, said the Normandy-based company.

Acacia gum, also known as gum Arabic, is a low cost hydrocolloid harvested from a particular variety of acacia tree in the African Sahel belt, known for its stabilising, emulsifying and thickening properties.

It is heat-stable and resists acidic pH levels, as well as packing in a fibre content of around 90% giving it prebiotic benefits. However, it is typically used in such small quantities that food formulators cannot make any prebiotic health claims in Europe.

A sensory evaluation was carried out on a panel of 58 people with individuals asked to rate the breads on their taste, smell, colour and crustiness.

There was little difference in colour but the best taste for white sandwich bread was achieved with one to 3% acacia gum added while both the gluten free and white bread that contained 1% of seyal acacia gum performed better than the control for global ratings.

Citing market figures from Mintel, marketing manager at the French firm Violaine Fauvert said: “Use of acacia gum in new product development of the bakery category accounts for an average of 10% of products in the most mature markets of western Europe and America. This is a very nice performance, taking into account the dynamism of this category right now and the high number of launches.”

Mintel’s global product database counts 2771 bakery products worldwide that contain acacia gum.

Combine with starches for a functional boost

In a study published last year in the peer-reviewed journal LWT - Food Science and Technology, researchers found that adding acacia gum to cassava-derived tapioca starch can improve the starch’s properties.

Commonly used in cakes, breads, cereals, beverages and sauces, tapioca starch is widely used thanks to its functional advantages; it’s a clear paste with a bland taste and relatively high viscosity compared to other starches.

However, native (unmodified) tapioca starches suffer from low water holding capacity, retrogradation and syneresis (leaking liquids), and adding gums is a common solution.

Adding acacia gum improved rheological (consistency and flow) properties, viscosity and elasticity as well as swelling power and solubility index for native tapioca, the researchers said.

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