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Comparing Pulse Milling Methods to Produce a Better Pulse Flour

Lindsey Boyd is keeping her finger on the “pulse” of the current trend to incorporate beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils into various end-products, such as pasta, noodles, and snack foods.   

Boyd, a technologist with the Pulse Science Cluster at Cereals Canada, is part of a 5-year project to develop milling processes that the Canadian pulse industry can use to create a variety of high-quality pulse flour ingredients. 

For the first activity of the project, Boyd compared Ferkar milling (single-stage) with roller milling (multi-stage) to determine if roller milling would produce a flour with improved quality over the flour produced from Ferkar milling. Although single-stage milling is commonly used by pulse producers to create pulse flours or pulse ingredients, roller milling has the advantage of being able to blend the flour streams produced in different ways to create pulse ingredients with different composition and/or functionality. 

Analyzing pulse flours for protein content in the Analytical Services Lab at Cereals Canada

“Roller milling results in the production of various flour streams that can be collected separately, giving us the opportunity to create flour blends suited for different end-products,” says Boyd. “We first needed to determine if roller milling could remove hulls from the seed, which would not only reduce the number of processing steps, but would also produce a higher-quality, higher-protein pulse flour.” 

The study was conducted with green lentils, yellow peas, kabuli chickpeas, and navy beans. Whole pulse seeds were first hammer milled and then milled using either a Ferkar mill or Bühler laboratory roller mill. The protein content of the flour produced from each milling process was then measured to assess milling performance. “Lower protein content indicates there are more hulls in the flour, as hulls are primarily made up of fibre and contain little protein,” Boyd explains.  

Boyd found that for each pulse type the flours produced using the Ferkar mill had lower protein content than the flours produced by the roller mill, showing that the roller mill can separate hulls from the rest of the seed during the milling process.  

“We were able to determine that dehulling may not be required prior to roller milling,” says Boyd. “We also saw an improvement in the flour quality produced by this method, not to mention higher protein content.” 

Overall, Boyd says the flours produced from roller milling were brighter and more yellow in colour, had different starch pasting properties, and had more uniform particle size distributions than the flours produced from Ferkar milling.  

For the next phase of this project, Boyd will be investigating further optimization of roller milling using milling pre-treatments to improve hull removal. 

Some of these results along with results from the project’s other collaborators were published in the following manuscript: Guldiken, B., Franczyk, A., Boyd, L., Wang, N., Choo, K., Sopiwnyk, E., House, J.D., Paliwal, J. and Nickerson, M. 2022. Impact of milling on the functional and physicochemical properties of green lentil and yellow pea flours. Cereal Chemistry 99:218-229.

You can read more about the work Cereals Canada is doing on its Pulse Science Cluster project here:
Cereals Canada technical experts can customize ingredients for different applications.

This is a collaborative research project between Cereals Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian Grain Commission, University of Saskatchewan and University of Manitoba on the Development of Processing Strategies for Innovative Commercially-Ready Pulse Ingredients for the Canadian Food Sector.   

Cereals Canada received funding through the Canadian Agricultural Program (CAP) AgriScience Cluster Program.