Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Lentil Project
In addition to supporting private food producers, Prairie Research Kitchen often works with agencies that support the food industry to drive innovation at the agricultural level.
In 2021, PRK partnered with Pulse Canada and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers to assess the effects of raw and de-flavoured red lentil flour in fried chicken coatings. The study was spurred in part by the rise in competition between quick service restaurants seeking new ways to improve chicken sandwiches.
The overall goal of this study was to generate scientifically backed evidence that speaks to the benefits of incorporating lentil flour in applications like these, and produce results that can be used to encourage adoption of lentil ingredients in the US food service industry.
Led by PRK researcher Bill Ryzniczuk, the team first analyzed de-flavoured and raw red lentil flours for their physical and functional compositions. They concluded that the compositional characteristics of both the de-flavoured and raw lentil flours were quite similar; flour samples showed only minor differences in moisture content and protein content.
Next, researchers conducted a comparative assessment of the ingredient functionality, flavour, and appearance of deep-fried boneless chicken tenders and bone-in fried chicken thighs with raw and de-flavoured red lentil flour substituted for a portion of wheat flour in the coating.
The results of this study determined that the inclusion of de-flavoured red lentil flour contributes positive attributes to fried chicken, including improved colour and texture, when 20 to 40 per cent of the wheat flour in the coating is substituted for de-flavoured red lentil flour. Other benefits include reduced cooking time and the removal of potential allergens. The study also demonstrated similar preliminary results for battered fried fish and coated potato products.
PRK shared the results of this study with the foodservice industry by contributing to a white paper outlining the benefits of the de-flavoured coating, helping SPG achieve its goals of driving innovation and supporting the production of pulse crops in Canada.
Did You Know? Lentil flour is produced by grinding or milling lentils into a fine powder. Lentil flour can be de-flavoured using a heat treatment to remove some slight off flavours, or it can be used in its raw, untreated state.