Flour improvement in the mill: Enzyme systems for a freshness boost

Little things often have big effects. This is especially the case for the invisible stars of the bioeconomy – enzymes. There are estimated to be about 25,000 of them. 5000 have been researched, and more than 300 are approved for food production. Enzyme systems have been used in the baking industry for decades, and offer millers interesting possibilities.

Precisely targeted enzyme systems even out fluctuations in raw materials and ensure consistently high flour quality. Thanks to flour improvement, bread, rolls and all the rest get volume, colour, crispness and a nice, fine, stable crumb. The most important trend right now? Long freshness and shelf life of baked goods. Maltogenic amylases provide the right answer – naturally. They alter the starch molecule to improve colour and aroma development during baking, as well as prolonging the freshness of the crumb and providing the desired softness, elasticity and moisture. 

Competitive advantage through flour with functional properties 

The international baking industry has long made use of the extraordinary capabilities of enzymes for fresh-keeping. Newer concepts get to work right in the mill. “This is very interesting for many markets, especially in Southeast Asia and Africa. There, bakeries expect the flour to arrive already improved and with all the functional properties they need to make the dough for their baked goods. Mills that provide this set themselves apart from the competition,” explains Sven Mattutat, Global Head of Product Management at MC Mühlenchemie.

The same goes for the bakeries, if you think about it. They benefit from consistently high flour quality and can offer their customers products that stay fresh for a long time. Product Manager Greta Reers: “Another advantage is obvious: The longer shelf life ensures that valuable baked goods are used to the full, preventing food wastage before it happens. That’s sustainability.”

Muhlenchemie_bread_Picture4_©MC MUHLENCHEMIE - MARCO MOOG.jpgCredit: ©MC MÜHLENCHEMIE - MARCO MOOG

Tailored freshness solutions 

As a pioneer and market leader in the development of enzymes for flour improvement and standardization, MC Mühlenchemie and its food and applications technologists have known about the effects of enzymatic fresh-keepers for decades. "Our Alphamalt Fresh range is the freshness solution for use in mills. Alphamalt Fresh products are suitable for flour treatment for all yeast-raised applications, and are ideal for packaged baked goods that need to stay fresh for several days. The product range offers multiple approaches, reports Greta Reers, “because there is no uniform definition of fresh-keeping. Bakeries and consumers have varying expectations for freshness attributes like crumb moisture, softness and elasticity.

Our Alphamalt Fresh and Soft product keeps baked goods fresh by ensuring crumb softness and crumb moisture, while Alphamalt Fresh & Spring prioritizes crumb softness and crumb elasticity. This gives the perfect chewing sensation during eating. The latter is brand-new and intended especially for rich recipes that already contain enough moisture. The goal of all Alphamalt Fresh products is to give the customer the same quality impression as a baked good that just came out of the oven, even days after production.”

The actual shelf life of bread products depends on the dosage of Alphamalt Fresh products. The higher the dosage, the longer the products stay fresh, until a certain day is reached. “Most customers expect baked goods to stay fresh for three to four days. But a week or more is no problem,” says Sven Mattutat. “From a global perspective, sandwich bread is a classic case for fresh-keeping enzymes. On the Asian market we do various customer projects to make sure the end products arrive fresh at the supermarket even after two days of travel, and still have a good shelf life left.

Another example is flour for hamburger buns, which need to stay fresh for several weeks for the sake of high shelf availability. This is also a global issue, and for example our colleagues in Latin America are working on it with various partner mills.” There, like here, success has not been long in coming, as Mattutat is glad to report: “Our mill customers were able to sell the improved flour better and boost their revenues. I should add that we also offer fresh-keeping solutions for tortillas.” 

In developing their innovative solutions, MC’s experts can draw on advanced applications technology and their own enzyme and rheological laboratory with experienced specialists. This comprehensive approach makes it possible to research and analyse newly developed enzyme complexes, and examine their behaviour in many practical tests. The enzyme systems are tailored to the application, recipe, customer wishes and market needs – in terms of fresh-keeping and every other milling requirement.