Not only does it make great pasta:

Durum-wheat makes bread tasty and storable

Italian durum wheat grain, the basic ingredient in the production of pasta, is cultivated mainly in southern Italy. In this area, this grain is also becoming popular in the making of bread and other baked goods. Durum wheat is known for its good taste, pleasant aroma, and high nutritional value. Moreover, bread made from durum wheat flour can be kept fresh for a longer time than bread made from soft wheat flour.

Bread made from soft wheat flour has a shelf life of from a few hours to a maximum of one or two days, depending on the type of fermentation used. In contrast, durum wheat's higher water-binding capacity, along with the use of sourdough as the starter in the fermentation process, helps to protect the bread from going stale quickly. Thus, bread made from durum wheat can easily be kept fresh for from four to seven days. Because of its high glutenin content, dough from durum flour is coarser and less extensible. This may sometimes affect the consumer's acceptance, particularly for people not living in the production‘s area.

Led by Dr. Fiorella Sinesio, a research group at the Italian National Institute of Food Research and Nutrition (INRAN) has been evaluating which sort of durum wheat would give bread the best storage-qualities. They tested 15 different sorts of durum wheat genotypes from the harvest of 2001. These included Simeto, Duilio, Bronte, Ciccio, Colosseo, Gargano, Lesina, Mongibello, Platani, Svevo, Valbelice along with four new genetic lines, which were selected for their good agronomic, production, and commodity properties.

All the breads (rectangular loaves) were prepared according to the same process and recipe, and were stored under the same conditions. A trained panel of judges then described the sensory changes of flavor and texture of all the breads during a two-day storage period. Evaluation of the freshly prepared bread samples showed that all the durum wheat genotypes produced breads with similar flavor and textural qualities. After the two-day storage period, however, differences between the various genotypes were apparent. The Lesina genotype showed the worst sensory characteristics (flat flavor, hard crust, and rubbery crumb). In contrast, bread made from the Valbelice genotype tended to go stale at a slower rate, and preserved better textural properties (crispness and freshness).

Valbelice's longer storage life could be explained by its high protein content - approximately 13% of the dry matter, of which 10% are gluten proteins. In contrast, the total protein content of the other tested types ranged between 9-11%. Because of Valbelice's higher level of gluten proteins (glutenins and gliadins), the dough had a higher level of water absorption and gas retention, which gave the breads a higher volume and prolonged shelf life.



Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizone

Roma, Italy

Fiorella Sinesio

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