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Purdue food science team enters gluten-free pita pocket in national baking competition

When a team of graduate students from Purdue University’s Department of Food Science decided to take on a challenge from the American Society of Baking (ASB), they developed an innovative and marketable product.

Every year, the American Society of Baking holds a product development competition, soliciting entries from university teams across the country. Each year, ASB invites entries for a different prompt. The 2019 challenge entails creating a flatbread with one or more ancient grains.

Four graduate students from the Department of Food Science submitted an entry and will be presenting as finalists at the ASB Product Development Competition in Chicago on Feb. 25. Team members include food science graduate students Sarah Corwin, Pablo Torres Aquilar, Anbuhkani Muniandy and Rachel Jackson. Together, these students developed a gluten-free pita pocket, which includes three different ancient grains.

“Instead of the requisite 15 percent ancient grains we decided to use 21 percent ancient grains,” Corwin said. “We also decided to develop a frozen product so we didn’t have to use preservatives. Ultimately, the taste and texture is like a whole grain pita pocket.”

Judges will evaluate the product from Purdue’s team along with other entries across the country. Products will be evaluated on the basis of texture, taste, sustainability and potential for successful commercial adoption.

“The ASB Product Development Competition is an extraordinary way for the baking industry to discover and help launch the careers of exceptional individuals,” said Kent Van Amburg, executive director of the American Society of Baking. “It’s education and networking at its best.”

The Purdue team said the opportunity to compete could give them the momentum to introduce their pita pocket into the marketplace. 

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