Has anyone tried the Sam's club flour? It seems very cheap.
Hello to all,
first time writer long time reader. I started using Sams Club flour after the price of King Arthur flour went through the roof. I can get a 20 lb bag for $ 8.50 and have had very good results. I bake at least 3 loaves a week usually adding a small amount of wheat bran and my family has given me rave reviews.
The Sam's near me only have bleached flours , which I do not use. I find it has an off taste in my breads.
...They just built one here in Johnson City, TN.I may use my lovely wife's card tomorrow to see what is in stock.Kinda makes me mad you have to show your membership card to walk around in there. ;-) All the best, Mark
Althought it may not be the best choice for those who have access to baker supply stores, or flour mills directly, it is for some of us the only place to beat the prices charged at supermarkets, and the only place to buy more than 5 lb bags. Mixing it with bran or whole wheat flour is an excellent way to make the best of what you can get locally. Me? I buy 50# bags of ConAgra Seal of Minnesota at a restaurant supply store 1/4 mile from Sam's. Prior to that I bought all my flour at Sam's.
You may enter and window shop at Sam's anytime, you just can't buy anything without a membership card
I just bought a 50# bag of Seal of Minnesota at GFS, along with a 25# bag of high gluten bread flour. I noticed the bread flour was bleached (not sure about the ConAgra), but I thought I'd take a chance on it, as the KA flour was killing my wallet. Seal of MN was $17.99 for 50#; the high gluten (14% protein) was $10.29 for 25#. Worth a shot, as far as I'm concerned.
I get my 50 lb bags of high gluten flour from there when I bake bagels for the Farmers Market. If i had to buy it any other place the cost would be prohibitive and I'd make no money. They have some nice containers for proofing bins, too. At some point I plan to special order some pizza boxes from them.
Where is this place in Minnesota where folks are buying 50lbs of high gluten flour. My husband is a bagel maker and I would love to get my hands on that. kb
I believe the high gluten flour at GFS, is called "Bouncer" from Bay State Milling (someone bought them out a year or two ago). I use it for Bialys, and pizza dough, and mix it in at various amounts in breads that have low gluten flours (rye, oat, etc).
Seal of Minnesota has served me well, it is very consistant in it's baking qualities. I wrote to ConAgra about the protein content of this flour and they responded that it was very close to 12% protein. I realize there may be a certain disconnect using protein % to verify gluten content, but as I said it works for me as my AP flour.
The high gluten flour I bought at GFS was called "Primo Gusto". They also had Bouncer. I'm glad to hear you've had success with the Seal of MN flour (especially since I have 50# of it!). I looked it up online, and several sites also gave the protein as about 12%.
They have been hit and miss on stocking Primo Gusto, and I have used Bouncer for about 10 yrs. now. Are you from Michigan as well?
Are you getting the unbleached version of those flours? Our GFS offers the brands in bleached form only.
I'm from Ohio. It's like Michigan, only more so.
The Primo Gusto flour is bleached. I generally use unbleached, but as I stated in a previous post, for the price I thought I'd take a chance on the bleached flour. I'm baking my weekly sourdough with it this weekend, so we'll see if I notice a difference.
I don't know if the Seal of MN is bleached or not. The label doesn't say. I have been using it for my new sourdough starter (you can follow the blog thread at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10192/starting-starter-sourdough-101), so far with no ill effects. In fact, it's growing much faster than my previous starter.
Edit: I just did a search for "bleached flour" on TFL, and came across this thread, which has some very interesting information on bleaching and bromating: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2834/bread-flour-bleached-or-not. Based on reading it, I'm not too concerned about whether my flour is bleached, although I may be more apt to try to avoid bromated flour from now on.
Just a personal preference to avoid chemicals and additives in my food when possible, so I'll stick with KAF.
...sits on Ohio. :-)
I grew up in Detroit.The Border between Downriver MI and Ohio is still fierce with Valor/Honor, on both sides. ;-)
Don't worry, we iz still friends bro. Ooh Rah!
I believe Bay State Milling is owned & operated by the same family as it was in 1899
Big big fan of their products, especially the Winona Patent Flour, an unbleached, unbromated spring wheat flour.
The Conagra Seal of Minnesota is the brand name of a flour sold at Gordon Food Services. It seems logical it would be sold in Minnesota, but as I live in Michigan, I can't suggest any retailers.
Sam's is a great place for some supplies... but NOT for flour ! I've tried them all but have been consistently disappointed in the gluten structure. King Arthur is really the only reliable way to go.
...I did go to SAMs this morning, left with nothing but disapointment.
Not many places here carry anything outside of Pillsbury ... Whole Foods is cha-ching ... I should try Sunflower Market ... but this town (Las Vegas) does not lend itself to the more 'domestic' side of life. Bet I could have a great selection if I lived in either a major Amish or Mormon community!!! LOL!
I buy Montana Sapphire flour from the local Amish Bulk Foods store. At $19 for 50#, it's an excellent flour for bread and general usage. They also carry about 10 specialty flours at very reasonable prices, so I get my stone ground wheat and dark rye flour from them as well.
A friend just came back from their condo in Vegas, and told me that you cannot buy a loaf of traditional, free form Italian bread in any of the stores (they are Italian and wanted it for a pasta dinner). She said they look at you like you have two heads when asking for it. She found a small store that had a national label loaf of Italian, but she was dissapointed in its taste and texture, saying it was like Homepride white bread, and it had no sesame seeds on it. Sounds like an opportunity for someone to grab teh market there with a good old-world bakery.
You can buy bulk grains and flours from Montana Milling, which in my opinion the BEST place to get your white wheat. You can store wheat in food storage for 30 years if done properly. Montana Milling has a website, you can also call and talk to Cheryl. They do orders of all sizes, but if you can get a food storage order together with a bunch of people the shipping is negligible. 4,000 lbs is their main threshold, which is easier to hit than you may think. They have a variety of grains, I also really love their steel cut oats. Check out their website, or even another resource is www.beprepared.com which is emergency essentials
Oh, and get a good wheat grinder, I have a ultramill which is great.
And yes if you live in Mormon country it is easier to find bulk baking supplies, having moved out of Utah 5 years ago, it is impossible to find 25# of anything at the store.
I live in Hawaii, with limited access to all the choices you folks have. Having said that, we do have Costco, Sam's, Walmart and even a Whole Foods Market. Most of the regular supermarkets carry KAF, Gold Medal and generic brands, so I do have choices. For me, I only use KAF. I do not even buy it at my local markets either, I mail order direct from the company. Here are my reasons:
1. IMHO, they make the best mass produced products, with the most consistency and taste. Ordering direct, I believe I am getting the freshest product possible.
2. Even paying shipping and the extra cost because its a premium product, when I break it down to per baked item, does it cost me one extra dollar per cake, bread or batch of cookies ? No, I don't think its even that much. Perhaps .40 cents.
3. KAF is a employee owned company. I very well understand what a E.S.O.P. is, and the people who work there, are the beneficiaries of a well run, profitable business. If the company does well, when they retire they get more $$ for their stock, its exactly like a retirement plan. I always feel whomever I deal with, is trying to make me a happy customer and I like that.
4. For me, a beginner, having a stand by baker, to assist me 24/7 is a very good idea, just ask my family who have to eat what I make. :>)
I live on the Big Island and have some choices but being on a fixed income, I can't afford the shipping of KA. I do buy KA at Safeway and it is $6.99 a pound. When I buy KA it is usually only the WW or BF. When it comes to AP, I buy what is on sale. During the holiday's I was getting Gold Medal, Pillsbury, and Wal-Mart brands as low as $1.49 a 5 pound bag. That is cheaper than going 100 plus miles to Costco or Cost U Less here in Hilo and getting it in the 25 pound bag. Costco does sell 50 pound sack but that is all ConAgra bleached flour and that is something I don't need. Now the prices have gone back up to pre-holiday prices and that is about $2.69 a bag. I've only been baking sense August but I have gone through more than 120 pounds of flour. I can only guess what that would have cost to ship form the east coast. I don't have the taste buds that can tell if I'm eating a high priced flour or a cheap generic. I do understand that there is a difference in performance but I know so little about the finer points of bread baking that I muddle through it quite well. Haven't made a loaf yet that I couldn't eat!! (thank god I'm the only one in the house!) That being said I've even got people asking to buy from me on a regular basis. My cheap flour is still making much better bread than ANYTHING I've tasted from any store here on the east-side. You can get some very tasty bread at the health food stores but you're paying anywhere from $6-8.50 loaf! and it Still isn't fresh!!! Besides where else can you get so much fun for the cost of a bag of flour??!!
I just opened my last shipment from KAF. I ordered 5LB AP unbleached, 5LB WW traditional unbleached, deli rye flavor, vital wheat gluten & vanilla extract.
The two 5 lb bags of flour were $4.05 each and total shipping cost was $19.50 for all 5 items. So if I assign $5. per bag for the shipping.....$9.00 for ea. 5LB, and its fresh and good quality.. For me, its worth it.
I could have crammed another 5 LB bag of flour for the same shipping cost to even further lower shipping per item, but its my 2nd shipment this week, I forgot the WW last time so I was making an order to get it.
The Sam's in Apple Valley, Minnesota sells Dakota Maid bread flour for $8.50 per 25 lb bag, and it's worked great for me. That bag lasts me about a month, and purchasing the same from KA or BRM would cost me 3 times that much. I'd like to be a purist and only bake with the good stuff, but I achieve satisfactory results with the Dakota Maid. I would prefer to do as little business as possible with the Evil Empire, but my Costco doesn't sell bread flour.
Soveig Tofte is the head baker for Turtle Bread Company in Mpls. she went to the Coupe Du Monde De La Boulangerie in 2008. She says she uses Dakota Maid Bread Flour at home. It is available here in norhern Mn. for half the price of KAF.I have been using it for the past several months and have been happy.
That's really good flour. I've bought it before and enjoy both whole wheat and bread flour. My problem with it is that I have to go 40 miles to get it. This is why I buy KA and GM, for the most part, at $3.49 and $2.79 per 5 pounds respectively. No clue why I can get Wheat Montana and KA locally but not Dakota Maid. I bought it at Cub Foods in Ames.
Trader Joe's (a CA based company) used to carry KAF flours at very reasonable prices, but quit when KA raised their prices. They now carry something they call Trader Josef's. I haven't tried it yet or even checked it out because I made a large purchase by mail from KAF and need to use it up first. Usually, Trader Joe's brand items are almost identical substitutes for the higher priced brand names, so I'm sure it's probably not an inferior grade of flour. Next time I'm shopping, I'll check it out and report back.
SHAME ON ME! I did not even think of Trader Joe's ... will be heading there this week.
The other night Hubby & I went to Smith's (aka our local Kroger here in Las Vegas) & they did NOT have rye flour ... RYE FLOUR ... I was dumbfounded ... what is this world coming to?
Every now & then we get up into Utah ... Cedar City area ... and the next time I am stocking up!!!
I discovered today that Smart & Final carries very large bags of KAF all purpose flour for less than 2 bags of the KAF in the local grocery store. I also found cool buckets for dough rising (2 for much less than what I paid for one when I ordered it from KAF) and all sorts of large plastic food storage containers that are great for storing flour, grain, etc. Also found plastic bread storage bags, 150 for less than $8. I don't know if Smart & Final is a SoCal thing or if it's nationwide, but if you have one do check it out.
They do not answer emails. They just don't pay attention or worse don't care if the money is not waving in front of their noses.
NO REPLY TO MY EMAIL AND ITS BEEN WEEKS.
I tried e-mail once with KAF and didn't get a response either. On the other hand, I can't think of another company that is more helpful when you call on the phone for help.
If they only knew from whom the mail had come from, its like a double faux pas :)
For those who might be unfamiliar with the process of bromating flour you should be aware that potassium bromate, the agent used in flour, has been banned in Europe, the U.K., Canada, China, Brazil, Peru and many other countries. The reason for the banning is that potassium bromate is harmful to human health.
I emailed KAF last summer and had a reply within 24 hrs. I tried their live chat service on the day before Thanksgiving and was connected with Frank in a couple of minutes. Obviously, my experience is the opposite of David and Saraugie
WE are singing from the same page, in the same hymnbook. I've received email responses within 24 hours and always have been able to reach someone via telephone
If that's the case, then why did you post the following complaint on February 21?
They do not answer emails. They just don't pay attention or worse don't care if the money is not waving in front of their noses. NO REPLY TO MY EMAIL AND ITS BEEN WEEKS
NO REPLY TO MY EMAIL AND ITS BEEN WEEKS
Bay State = no response
I finally found what I was looking for at GFS. It is a Pillsbury brand Short Patent Flour. It is unbleached, unbromated and unenriched. I actually like it better (and have had better results) than KA Bread Flour.
They don't however, stock it in many of the stores, so you have to call and ask them to order it in. In Cincinnati, that means a 24 hour turn-around. I ordered 100 pounds yesterday at 3:30 and picked it up this morning at 8:05.
It is $18.99 for a 50# bag, or a total of $0.38 per pound.
When calling, the item number is 561096.
I have also been experimenting with different flours, and so far my favorite is Thesco, bleached, enriched, a favorite with the local Amish.
I just picked up a 50# bag for $15.00, and I love it.
I also have some Sams Club Bread Flour, but not as fond of it.
I tried KA, but I really prefer my bread with the Thesco.
Earlier, rittertj invited us to compare specs of Bouncer versus Lancelot, and asserted that they were the same.
As suave points out, Bouncer is bromated (at any rate, bsm.com doesn't say it's UNbromated, and does make that claim about their artisan flour, so I think suave is confirmed) so, well, not the same I guess?
Since Bay State Milling seems a little coy about specs, it's hard compare apples to apples. However, let's assume that rittertj is right and BSM does the milling for KAF now. Oh, look, BSM *does* have specs for a soft wheat "white whole wheat" flour, at:
Well, gosh, these specs are a little thin, but let's see what we've got:
Moisture: 11.5% +/- 1.5%
Ash: 1.55 +/- 0.45
Protein: 10.0% +/- 1.5%
NOW let's see what KAF white whole wheat gives us:
Moisture: 12.5% +/- 1%
Protein: 9.0% +/- 1.5%
Oh man, those don't look the same at all. What could it all mean? Gasp!
Multiple inappropriate personal comments on this thread have been removed. Ease up guys.
Rittertj: you've made it more than clear in your comments on this thread that you are not a fan of KA flour and you don't think it is worth the money. Please let other folks speak about their experiences and opinions, some of which coincide with your own while others differ.
I had to pick up some shrimp at GFS, so I checked the Bouncer flour bag.
The Bouncer high gluten flour label states:
"Bleached wheat flour, potassium bromate, enzyme."
No information was given as to protein content.
The price tag was $10.49 for 25#.
Potassium bromate is a known carcinogen.
Clearly Bouncer is in a class of its own.
I just picked up a 50lb bag of Con Agra "King Midas Special" for breads & pizza dough, anyone ever try this flour.
Thanks for posting about KAF.
I really could not understand how this product could sell for almost a dollar a pound, when most flours sell for less than 1/3 that amount.
Really a marketing marvel, comparable to Ben & Jerry's, another overrated overpriced product, IMHO.
Baskin Robbins and even our local dairys make a better product, yet the yuppies flock to Ben and Jerrys.
But where do they sell? When I go shopping I see KAF, Pillsbury, Ceresota, Gold Medal, Heartland Mills (more expensive than KAF), BRM (don't get me started), and generic AP (excellent, but a bit weak). Where are those great, affordable unbleached/unbromated strong flours I am supposed to buy? Who sells them? Oh, right, you need to buy 50 lb of it. But first you have to find a distributor who would take your cash, and that's not always so simple.
I got a little hot under the collar.
Why do I buy KAF? It's AVAILABLE.
The wholesale cost of flour is so close to zero as to not matter (the cost of the wheat used to make a pound of flour is well under a dollar), what you're paying for with pretty much any retail flour is marketing and distribution. KAF does great at distribution, and that costs money, and I pay for it.
KAF also spends a lot on marketing, obviously. Not all marketing benefits the consumer, but some of it does. They have a great web site, and a baker's hotline, and so on and so forth. The fact that I am not required to be a customer to use these services makes me more likely to be a customer -- I appreciate that they're putting these services out there, and I vote with my dollars.
Where I am, if I want higher protein flour, it's KAF or Gold Medal, and that's all there is. Since KAF makes it easier for me to get larger quantities than Gold Medal does, and they have an organic product available for me (see, it's the distribution) that's what I buy, the fact that I like them and want to support them is just a bonus.
Whatever your preferred brand(s) of flour, you're mostly paying for marketing and distribution -- and you should. The distribution is obviously working for you, since you can get the stuff! The marketing, well, I hope you're getting some value from it! Check out your supplier's web site, check out the recipes on the bag -- you're paying for 'em both ;)
To me your response appeared to be measured and well though out. In my opinion you really hit nail on the head there.
I have been very happy with the 50# bags of bread flour from Costco in Minneapolis. It's a Con-Agra variant, bleached unfortunately but not bromated. It may not be the best flour in the world, but it gives me a good tasting loaf, good working characteristics and at $13.00 a bag a very cost effective way to practice, practice, practice.
I just bought 10# of KAF unbleached at Sam's for $5.99. You can request your Sam's carry the unbleached version. If there is enough demand, they will continue offering it.
I've gotten quite tired of hearing that word bandied about for so many different products. Sugar substitutes, cooking oils, vitamin supplements. The people that spout doom and gloom have even proven that sunshine is bad for you. Come on, people, we can do without more of it here.
I, personally, do not use bleached or bromated flour because I am able to get KAF #5 for about 3 bucks at a military commissary, and Wal-Mart. The only problem there is that neither one has any bread or high gluten flour. I'll check some of the local chains and GFS to see what's available there.