- This study examined changes in flour functionality during storage of grain and subsequent aging of flour milled from the grain. Freshly harvested grain was stored for 24 weeks and flour milled from the grain at specified time intervals after harvest (0, 3, 6, 12, and 24 weeks). For each milling date flour functionality was measured on the day of milling (day 0) and at specified intervals after milling (1, 3, 6, 13, 27, and 62 days). Storage and aging were conducted at 23 ± 1°C. The functional properties examined were flour absorption characteristics, quantified using the solvent retention capacity (SRC) test, and oxidative gelation capacity (OGC), which was measured viscometrically, using a Rapid Visco Analyzer (RVA). SRC measures absorption capacity of flour emphasizing different flour polymers in each of the four solvents (water, all polymers: sucrose, arabinoxylans (AX) and gliadins: sodium carbonate, damaged starch: lactic acid, glutenins). Oxidative gelation is a process whereupon a weak gel is formed in a hydrated flour system under oxidative conditions and is thought to be largely a function of the reactivity of ferulic acid residues esterified to AX, although proteins are also involved. To determine if oxidation of flour lipids might accompany changes in OGC, the concentration of malondialdehyde (MDA), a lipid oxidation byproduct, was measured. Four soft-wheat varieties with divergent functionalities were selected to examine the effects of storage and aging. Additionally, a survey was conducted to examine the range of OGC in a selection of hard-grained wheat varieties from the Oregon State University wheat-breeding program. From this survey, one variety with high and one variety with low OGC were selected for a pilot study to determine the effect of hydrogen peroxide and azodicarbonamide (ADA) concentrations on OGC in straight grade flour.
Variety was the strongest factor in determining flour functionality expressed as SRC and OGC. This is unsurprising, because varieties were chosen based on differences in absorption characteristics and OGC as indicated by preliminary testing. In contrast, variety was the weakest factor in determining changes in MDA concentration.
As a function of grain storage time, water, sucrose and sodium carbonate SRC values increased. In contrast, lactic acid SRC values declined. Although many of these changes were statistically significant, their functional significance remains unclear. As a function of grain storage time, OGC initially increased to week 3 then declined to week 24. Not only was this change statistically significant, but the magnitude of the change could be considered functionally significant. Because OGC is a trait that currently only has theoretical value in food processing (i.e. OGC is not a trait currently taken into consideration during food processing), it is difficult to definitively conclude what constitutes functional significance. Grain storage time had the strongest influence on changes in MDA concentration. The trend of changes in MDA concentration was similar to that observed for OGC.
Flour age was the weakest contributor to changes in SRC. Looking at individual SRC solvents, flour aging time did not significantly influence changes in water SRC values. However, as flour aged, sucrose SRC values significantly increased and sodium carbonate and lactic acid SRC values decreased. Although changes in sucrose, sodium carbonate, and lactic acid SRCs were statistically significant, their functional significance was again unclear. As a function of flour age, OGC increased. As a function of flour age, MDA concentration initially increased, but subsequently declined and remained constant from day 6 to day 62.
Each variety appeared to show a different relationship between peroxide peak viscosity (PPV) and peroxide peak breakdown viscosity (PPBV). Proportional PPBV also appeared to differ between varieties, and the relationships (PPBV% vs PPV) were nonlinear. This suggested that there was a maximum PPV for each variety at which PPBV no longer increased. Data suggest qualitative differences in the gels formed in each variety that require further investigation.
Speculation allows the idea that the RVA method used here could provide a way of expressing functional differences in OGC that might relate to structure differences in AX.