Testing New Varieties

By Karl Kupers on April 08, 2013

We held our annual bake test last month to test new varieties of grain.

For those few waiting on the edge of your seat wondering what is the “other” new line of flour I mentioned in the January newsletter, the answer is, I still can’t say. Well I can say but it won’t be available until this fall. We hope to have a hard white whole wheat flour line developed after harvest this fall. I will certainly keep you updated as we approach that time period as to availability.I hope some were able to use the information I stated in our February edition to aid in discussions surrounding gluten. There has been continued literature searches going on within our team and our perception is even more substantiated.We held our annual bake test last month to test new varieties of grain that are or will become available to the producers. Our baking consultant spent two days at Spokane Hutterian Colony (one of our producers) and utilized their baking facility to conduct the testing. We tested 6 new varieties as well as some combinations of these and compared them to our current flour lines. Individually no variety really stuck out but we combined a couple and they seemed to find some synergy through blending to make a better loaf of bread. The best news was our current hi and low gluten strength flour lines still made the best loaves.The tests are done treating each variety exactly the same way in both dough development and baking. The testing looks at dough development time and activity and elasticity as it comes out of the mixing bowl. After baking she, and some of our management team, look at crumb (the inside of the loaf) color, crumb structure, loaf size in inches high, crust color, and the most important of all taste. During the early phase of her tests based on some early observations she will blend some varieties to see if they improve. Those blended loaves are also tested against the standards which are our current lines.From these tests our management team determines which varieties we encourage to be grown for contracting with Shepherd’s Grain. I believe this has been a big part of our maintaining a consistent high quality flour line. Some of the general grain industry testing seems to focus on some different criteria than our more artisan baking group desire. We were happy again to have some of the milling personnel at the test as well as a leader from the USDA Wheat Quality lab at Washington State University. After the test our consultant sat down with us to talk about what she saw and provide our marketing side some bakers language we could use to convey what we saw and tasted. We hope everyone continues to enjoy the fine quality bread products created from Shepherd’s Grain.