Corn into Ethanol – All is Not Lost

When turning corn into ethanol, not all the food value need be lost.  As of this writing, the current law requires that nearly 10% of the nation’s gasoline supply come from corn-based ethanol. To make that ethanol, up to 40% of the country’s annual corn production may be required. With the drought causing a diminished corn harvest this year, and with rising food prices and the UN reporting that 870 million people around the world are malnourished, many have wondered if there wasn’t some way in which the nutrition contained in the corn could be salvaged.

Enter food scientist Padu Krishnan at South Dakota University, who thinks he has a solution to the problem, and a recipe to help Americans eat more healthfully. He has been cooking up treats using a special ingredient he says can make baked goods more filling and nutritious.

His super-food of the future is the stuff left over from turning corn into fuel ethanol. It’s known as “dried distillers’ grain” or DDG. Made from mashed up corn kernels, after ethanol production strips out the starch, DDG is very valuable for human diets because it is packed with 40 percent dietary fiber and 37 percent protein.

Mr. Krishnan says replacing a portion of traditional flour in a recipe with DDG can give foods a healthy boost. Mr. Krishnan has a special tandoor oven to use DDG in naan. He has put it into chapati, pizza dough, tortillas, and he plans to try it in noodles. Consumers tasting the recipes at the South Dakota state fair gave them a two thumbs up, and he’s now contemplating approaching a star chef to cook with the stuff.

While using corn for ethanol will probably remain controversial (to say the least), this sounds like a great plan to make use of the nutrition and be able to refuel our cars.