It is very possible that the name of the plant sounds familiar to you, and one of its properties is the great contribution of fiber. In fact, they are used in treatments against various digestive disorders. But it has another use that we have already revealed in the title of this post. Do you want to know a little more about the so-called blond Psyllum or Plantago ovata?
PLANTAGO OVATA, A PLANT OF GREAT INTEREST
It is true that if you have heard of this plant, it is probably not because of its qualities as a substitute for gluten to make bread. Rather as a remedy for gastric problems such as constipation . At this moment it is impossible not to think about the effect of this plant if you eat gluten-free bread, right? Let’s go by parts since the dose is the secret.
Its cultivation, unless you live in India is not very common. In fact, according to various sources, almost the entire production of Plantago ovata is concentrated in this country. It originally comes from there but is widespread in Africa and the Mediterranean regions. It is an annual, herbaceous plant of normal size (heights of no more than 30-40 cm).
It grows in sandy and loamy soils where good drainage is almost essential. The pH must be neutral to alkaline (7.3-8.5). It is a plant with an arid or semi-arid climate that supports high temperatures and cannot withstand frost. In order to obtain the pure husk, the seed must be dried to a humidity of less than 10-12% and subsequently the husk extracted from the seed in milling and classification operations.
BUT CAN YOU MAKE GLUTEN-FREE BREAD?
Strictly speaking yes. Gluten is not an essential nutritional element, and therefore is “totally” dispensable. However, its role in the formation of pastry and bakery doughs is essential. Yeast ferments the sugars in the flour and generates CO 2 . The problem is that the consistency of the dough is achieved thanks to gluten . The combination of water, mechanical action (kneading) and the proteins that make up gluten achieve a reticular structure that gives resistance and viscosity characteristic of bread flour. What is called the strength of the flour.
When we measure the strength of a flour , we are actually expressing in some way the amount of gluten and therefore its ability to increase in volume. The structure of the bread crumb is nothing more than a swelling produced by the gas that the yeasts generate in the fermentation of the sugars they consume while fermenting. The dough must have a certain consistency to retain it and create that alveolar network that we call crumb . Gluten free, there is no crumb … or is it? The mucilages of Plantago ovata can help.
WHAT EXACTLY IS MUCILAGE?
They are a series of plant compounds that many plants and fungi have to a lesser or greater extent. Mucilage is part of a compendium of compounds that make up dietary fiber. The mucilage is capable, together with water, of forming a viscous solution. The algae, the quince are some examples of species that contain large amounts of mucilage. Plantago ovata is another such example. The husk of the seed, only the husk, has a large amount of this compound and it is thanks to it that we can replace the technological function of gluten. It is considered to be the plant species with the highest amount of mucilage, which in turn is the main component of soluble fiber . This ability to capture water molecules, swell and form gelsIt is what improves intestinal transit in specific doses and makes gluten-free bread get a consistent and fluffy crumb. Rest assured that the doses that are added to the bread do not make a laxative if that is what may concern you.
PLANTAGO PSYLLIUM AND PLANTAGO OVATA
There is some confusion with this plant that should be clarified. A Plantago ovata , also commonly called Psyllium when we refer to the seed hulls and ground and extracted for use (for example on bread without gluten). This can create confusion as there is also Plantago psyllium , but it does not have the mucilage of Plantago ovata . As you can see in the following link, it is marketed as blond Psyllium but always knowing that it is Plantago ovata . In addition to Plantago ovata , gums such as Xantana gum are also used to achieve a consistency similar to the plan with gluten.