BROOKINGS, SOUTH DAKOTA, U.S. — A South Dakota State University professor will work on adding food-grade distiller’s dried grains, a corn co-product that comes from the ethanol-making process, to baked foods thanks to a four-year grant from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

“There is intrinsic nutritional value in something that is 38% protein and 40% dietary fiber,” said Padmanaban Krishnan, a food science professor. “Everywhere in the world someone needs protein for nutrition and someone needs dietary fiber for health and disease prevention.”

The project has a $576,000 budget. Krishnan will work with the food and ethanol industries. He will seek to create a food-grade product that may be substituted for flour or added into baked foods, tortillas, pizza crust and noodles to increase fiber and protein content while reducing calories.

Krishnan said flat breads may handle up to a 20% inclusion of distiller’s dried grains (DDGs). Cookies and bread may handle 6% to 10%. Maintaining adequate taste, shelf stability and sensory characteristics will be crucial.

In the ethanol-making process, one third of the corn bushel is made into distiller’s grains, one third is made into ethanol and one third is released into the air as carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide may be trapped and used as a solvent in the processing steps for DDGs.

DDGs as raw material cost 5¢ per lb., Krishnan said. He grinds the DDG into flour and sterilizes it, making it food-ready.

“There isn’t a food item yet on the market containing DDG, but the research is geared toward getting us there,” he said.