New method tests flour 'purity' at various stages of the milling process.

MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — Researchers at Kansas State University (KSU) have developed a new method for testing the purity of flour, helping ensure that mill production precisely meets customer specifications.

According to the school, the test utilizes “sophisticated molecular methods” to focus on endosperm purity.

Woven into the milling process, the test ultimately will allow millers to exclude inferior flour streams from the finished product.

“If a miller has not met the baker’s specifications, the effort is wasted,” said David Wetzel, professor of grain science and industry. “We are enabling the miller to meet purity specifications by giving him a selective analytical test.”

Mark Boatwright, a KSU doctoral candidate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, said the technology will help millers by measuring endosperm purity within flour streams at each stage of the milling process.

“This will allow the miller to optimize settings on equipment and make decisions to meet the baker’s specifications for quality flour,” he said.

The researchers analyzed 29 flour streams from a commercial mill to establish endosperm purity as the milling process moves toward completion, and the flows move closer to becoming the finished flour used as an ingredient in bread or other products.

“The result is an endosperm purity profile that enables the miller to determine the point at which a cutoff is required to maintain purity for the baker and, ultimately, the consumer,” Boatwright said.

The ability to optimize equipment settings will provide millers with higher yields of flour that meet customer specifications,” Wetzel said.

“In the economy of Kansas, the production of bread quality wheat is a big deal,” he said. “We have shown that by using recently developed technology, the efficiency in a mill can be improved without reducing the flour yield.”

The study, “Profiling Endosperm Purity of Commercial Mill Streams Preceded by Debranning Using Quantitative Chemical Imaging,” was published in Cereal Foods World. Boatwright is the lead author.

The research was supported by KSU Research and Extension. The chemical imaging of endosperm was completed in Wetzel’s microbeam molecular spectroscopy laboratory.