UNL Food Processing Center Bakes Gluten-Free Cookies for Husker Harvest Days

Sept. 20, 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. — One hundred fifteen pounds. That's how much cookie dough students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Food Processing Center prepared to make 2,634 gluten-free cookies for Husker Harvest Days. All in one day.

The cookies were made for the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board, which distributed the cookies at Husker Harvest Days Sept 10-12.

The Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board wanted to promote sorghum in baking the cookies.

"To make gluten-free cookies, you have to get rid of the wheat flour and sorghum flour is a good replacement," said Laurie Keeler, senior manager for product development in UNL's Food Processing Center.  

The board gave Keeler a recipe, which her students helped to convert into a percentage basis to accommodate for the massive quantities of ingredients. Then the students baked the cookies, about 24 dozen at a time, using the Food Processing Center's Pilot Plant equipment, then cooled and individually packaged each cookie.  Students also assisted in providing the board with the correct ingredient statement and nutritional information for the cookies.

"It was fun making the cookies," said Miranda Schurr, a senior food science and technology major who helped make the cookies. "I have never really made anything without gluten. It was a learning experience of what you can and cannot use."

Schurr said that students were surprised at how the cookies turned out.

"We had our food science club try it and they said they wouldn't have noticed the difference between cookies without gluten and regular cookies," Schurr said. "They were very good."

Keeler said that she felt students learned a lot about food science from this experience.

"I think they learned a lot about ingredients and setting up an assembly line," she said.

Laurie Keeler
Senior Manager for Product Development
UNL Food Processing Center
402-472-7803
lkeeler1@unl.edu

Heather Haskins
Student Writer

Sandi Alswager Karstens
IANR News Service
402-472-3030
skarstens2@unl.edu