HERMOSILLO, Mexico — The versatility of potatoes seems to be never-ending. From fries to mashed potatoes to breakfast hash, it’s as if they can do anything. Recent research further confirms this notion, reporting that sweet potatoes could serve as the perfect gluten-free flour for baked goods!
Wheat flour has been the standard for tens of thousands of years and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future. However, for those who face a gluten intolerance or have celiac disease, wheat flour can irritate the stomach and lead to pain, nausea, and even intestinal damage.
In recent years, the gluten-free options have skyrocketed, and scientists are continuing to explore different options like banana peel, almonds, and other grains like sorghum. Sweet potato-based flour may completely change the game. Not only does it bring a welcoming sweetness, but its nutritional profile is one to boast about. This flour would contain gut-loving fiber and an abundance of antioxidants.
One barrier to widespread sweet potato flour production, however, is figuring out how to implement best practices for processing it. Previous studies have yet to determine how different steps involved in potato drilling and milling can produce flours that can be easily used for common products and goods. To investigate this, Ofelia Rouzaud-Sández and her colleagues wanted to explore how two drying temperatures and grinding processes affected the properties of orange sweet potato flour.
What’s the perfect recipe for making sweet potato flour?
In order to create flours, researchers from Universidad de Sonora prepared samples of orange sweet potatoes dried at either 122 or 176 degrees Fahrenheit before grinding them once or twice. They studied the parameters closely, comparing them to sweet potato flour from stores and a traditional wheat-based flour. They found that at both temperatures, grinding just once damaged enough starch to make it a good option for use in fermented products like gluten-free bread.
Grinding twice further disrupted the starch’s structure, which could make a good choice for use as a thickening agent for porridges or sauces. When baked into a bread loaf potato dried at 176 degrees and ground once, it had a higher antioxidant capacity compared to the store-bought sweet potato flour and the wheat flour.
The researchers say that these findings could open doors for widening the applications for orange sweet potato flour, for both at-home cooking and the commercial food industry. Gluten intolerance is an exceedingly common dietary restriction, so the more options available, the better it could be for those suffering from it to maintain a healthy, varied diet.
The findings are published in the journal ACS Food Science & Technology.