According to a Datamonitor Consumer Survey, ⅔ of consumers express an active interest in trying out different foods. Ancient grains (also known as heritage grains) provide an avenue to explore and develop new and unique cereal combinations for breads that appeal to these consumers. Bakeries can tap into consumers’ willingness to experiment with new and different foods by marketing ancient grains as a premium and exotic.
Healthy and sustainable
Opportunities exist in offering consumers products that match a gourmet profile. Ancient grains not only fit this profile, but also fit into the health and wellness megatrend that shows no signs of slowing down. They have better flavor and texture profiles as compared to modern processed grains. Unlike commodity grains, ancient grains have remained virtually untouched by modern science over the last few centuries and are whole grain.
Heritage grains are grown using sustainable agricultural methods. Unlike commercially bred varieties, ancient grains are genetically resistant to disease and drought and require less water and synthetic inputs like pesticides and fertilizers.
A few popular varieties
Quinoa is one of the more popular and well known of the ancient grains. Quinoa has 50% more protein than most other grains and the quality equals that found in milk, according to the World Health Organization. It is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals (and has three times as much calcium as wheat) and fits the gluten-free requirement.
Farro can refer to three types of grain: emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, or spelt. Cooked farro (emmer wheat) retains a firm, chewy texture and cooks quickly, while spelt tends to soften and has a very lengthy preparation time. Farro is rich in fiber, magnesium, and vitamins including A, B, C, and E. It is also easily digested, and is naturally low in gluten. Spelt is high in protein and fiber, and has a moderate amount of gluten.
Mildly sweet and nutty-tasting, millet is gluten-free, high in fiber, B-vitamins and magnesium. Millet has a 15% protein content, essential amino acids like lecithin, and more bio-available minerals than rice. Millet matures in just 65 days, faster than most grains.
Applications of ancient grains
- Use ancient grains to make a multitude of different breads. Ancient grains work well not only as the base for your dough, but also as toppings and inclusions.
- Ancient grains can also be used to make pizza crusts. They are perfect when formulating a completely gluten-free pizza.
- For the sweet-tooth, use ancient grains for pie crusts. Once the pie is finished, they can also be used as a topping to add an attractive crunch.