Regarding replacing effects of salt on taste in bread, Mari Øvrum Gaarder and Stefan Sahlstrøm conclude that it is challenging, but possible. Photo: Joe Urrutia © Nofima

Project Year 2018

Healthier bread with less salt

 Innovation, consumer and sensory sciences    Food and health  

Salt reduction is important for public health, especially in everyday foods. Nofima scientists are working to find ways to reduce the salt content of bread.

“Together with Norwegian baking industry we have lowered the amount of salt in bread and are working to find more ways to make further reductions. However, we know that salt fulfils several functions,” says Stefan Sahlström, a senior scientist at Nofima.

Salt is not only there for the flavour

Salt acts as a taste enhancer, reduces water activity and increases shelf life. In bread production, salt reduces yeast activity and improves the formation of gluten. A certain amount of salt is therefore necessary to prevent dough stickiness.
Stefan Sahlström in collaboration with bakers from Norwegian bake houses and Nofima’s in-house baker performed bread baking trials with varying salt content. “In small scale, it is possible to produce bread without salt, but in large scale, a minimum of 0.18% salt is needed. Without salt the dough becomes sticky and difficult to handlemechanically. However, too large salt reduction results in tasteless bread that consumers do not like,” Stefan explains.

Taste is the biggest challenge

The scientists have experimented with various types of sourdough bread to see if sourdough can compensate for the negative changes in flavour caused by salt reduction. Wheat, rye, spontaneous sourdough and sourdough produced with specific lactic acid bacteria was tested.
“We found that replacing a part of the wheat flour with a sourdough fermented with specific lactic acid bacteria increase the overall taste intensity of low-salt bread,” says Nofima scientist Mari Øvrum Gaarder.
She adds that with a bread recipe with of 40 percent sourdough taste can be improved, although there are still several technological hurdles to overcome. Further research is required to resolve these challenges.

Kavli, Norgesmøllene, Mesterbakeren, Baker Brun, Tind, Nortura, Orkla Foods Norge, SINTEF, Nofima and Animalia

Research Funding for Agriculture and the Food Industry (FJM) and the Research Council of Norway

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