I love it when I stumble upon a jewel in this industry. If you have not been to the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) the last time you were here in Portland, make sure you drop by the next time. Located at the Alber’s Mill building, the center houses a team of experienced scientists and a large collection of flour and grain testing equipment.

Well known for their research and publication in the noodle industry, Dr. Gary Hou, Technical Director, and his team have the ability to run any food science research in this well-maintained research center. How did I find this out? A recent client of mine required bread analysis and I reached out to Dr. Hou. I was amazed to find an array of quality tools and research instruments. So here are a few that I’d like to share:

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This moisture meter is a monster! No kidding, it’s fast, the results are replicable, and you do not need to train anyone to measure moisture in your bread/cake/cookies..e.t.c. Yes, gone are the days staring at that drying oven and waiting for your samples to cool in the desiccator. I’ve experienced many moisture meters, and this is the best performing one yet.  Short on staff in your QA department? This is the meter to use!

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Don’t let this R2D2 type looking machine fool you. I was floored when I learned that the C-Cell was at the WMC. If you know me, I’m a sucker for quantitative analysis. This tool totally rocks the market on quantifying crumb analysis.  It even tells you how many cells are on a slice of bread (almost 10,000 cells!).

Why is this important? Well, simply because the more bubbles, the lighter the product. In addition, the more uniform the bubbles are spread out (which this instrument also measures), the more stable your formulation/processing method.  This instrument can be used at the QA level to quickly quantify product defects.  It even measures caving of the side walls (yes, a huge issue when you don’t have a stable internal structure)!

Need help quantifying sprouting? Analyzing damaged starch or flour analysis? The WMC laboratory services will also help you carry out tests to verify or assist you in your QA program implementation.  Dr. Hou and his team can help you carry out the following tests:

  • Wheat milling and analysis
  • Flour water absorption (Farinograph)
  • Flour quality (moisture, ash, protein, granulation)
  • Product texture
  • Damaged Starch
  • Color analysis
  • Falling number
  • Crumb analysis
  • Viscosity
  • pH/TTA
  • Solvent retention capacity (SRC)
  • Alveograph
  • Extensograph
  • Mixolab
  • Starch pasting analysis (RVA or Viscograph)
  • Risograph (gas measurement)
  • Other product testing like bake tests and evaluations (breads, hamburger bun, crackers, tortillas, cookies, cakes, artisan bread, flatbread, bagel, laminated dough, etc.); Asian noodles and steamed bread; Frozen dough

As you can see, the WMC is not just catered for the noodle industry, it has the ability to perform flour, dough and bread testing as well.  Before I sign off, I have to share a few more pictures of the center to show you some of the shiny new things they have:

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A Tandoori oven

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A wood fired style oven

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A vacuum cooler

For more information on these equipment and services, please contact WMC at:
phone number: 503-295-0823
email: [email protected] (Dr. Gary Hou)