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Acerola head-to-head with ascorbic acid

Does a super fruit have the muscle to strengthen bread dough? We take a look.
A tropical super fruit is gaining popularity as a natural alternative to ascorbic acid in industrial bread.

Boasting a vitamin C content of 17-30%, extract of the acerola cherry is increasingly widely used on markets where clean labels are high on the consumer agenda.

We decided to conduct our own laboratory and bakery trials with ascorbic acid and acerola to compare their effect.

Boosting the gluten network
Although primarily known as an antioxidant, ascorbic acid is actually used as an oxidant in bread dough. Its ability to oxidise sulphur bindings strengthens the gluten network necessary for baking bread with a good volume and shape.

Today ascorbic acid is often routinely added to flour without any requirement to declare it on the label. While the flour is, in effect, e-number free, a demand for ascorbic acid’s replacement has grown up on some markets.

Acerola, native to Mexico and countries in Central and South America, looks like a suitable substitute. The only drawback is its relatively low content of the active component – vitamin C – which is a long way short of the 100% in ascorbic acid.

Same effect, higher doseIn our trials, ascorbic acid was tested against acerola extract with 17% vitamin C. Using an extensograph to measure dough extensibility and resistance, we found that acerola could match the gluten strengthening effect of ascorbic acid. The acerola dosage required to do so, however, was up to four times higher.

Our conclusion: natural acerola extract is an effective alternative to ascorbic acid. But be prepared for a much higher cost in use.