Cultured wheat is a natural preservative made from the fermentation of wheat.

Cultured Wheat


What is Cultured Wheat?

Cultured wheat is a natural, clean label mold inhibitor and antimicrobial agent. It can be used in yeasted and chemically-leavened products such as breads, buns and cakes.

  • It lowers dough or batter pH
  • It does this by the inhibitory bacteriocin peptides produced by bacteria present in the culture1

Origin

Clean label mold inhibitors like cultured wheat and whey are popular among bakers who want alternatives to chemical preservatives. For example, as replacements for calcium propionate and sorbates.

Function

Cultured wheat provides antimicrobial inhibition of a wide range of spoilage and pathogenic bacteria. Antimicrobial mechanism of this ingredient is due to its ability to:2

  • Reduce pH of dough or batter
  • Disrupt membrane transport or permeability
  • Accumulate anions
  • Reduce internal cellular pH

Commercial production

Cultured wheat comes from the fermentation of wheat flour with a specific food-grade bacterial culture. Some commonly used starter cultures include lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and propionic acid bacteria (PAB), such as L. lactis, Lactobacillus spp., Pediococcus spp., and P. freudenreichii subsp. Shermanii. These bacteria produce lactic, propionic and acetic acid, as well as other metabolites with antimicrobial properties.1,3

First, the fermentation of wheat flour is completed. Then, the product is carefully dried, ground and sieved to a powder form to preserve its functionality.

Application

Although this ingredient extends the shelf life of bakery products, comes with it's share of challenges and considerations.

  • It can enhance the flavor and aroma of baked goods when added in adequate amounts. However, too much can have negative effects on product quality.
  • In yeasted products, use 1.0–5.0% based on flour weight. Effective mold inhibition using cultured wheat requires up to 10 times the amount of acids themselves.
  • Acids present in cultured products are weak, so they dissociate poorly in the product’s aqueous phase. This condition limits their effectiveness in lowering pH to mold inhibiting levels. This also presents a challenge in applications that require a shelf-life similar to CalPro-containing breads.
  • Yeast levels should be slightly increased when using cultured wheat because of the negative impact of low pH on yeast activity. Doughs with too low of a pH take longer to fully proof. Also, the oven spring may not be enough for optimum volume.