The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need Help with the science behind commercial flours

ruby's picture

Need Help with the science behind commercial flours

I'm am curious about the way that whole wheat flour is produced commercially. Since I home grind my wheat, am I understanding correctly that for the best nutritional advantage I should bake it the same day or freeze it for later use?

Concerning store-bought whole wheat is it kept from becoming rancid? Is anything removed or added or is there any process the flour goes through?

As for store bought 100% whole wheat are they preserving that?

I'm wanting to present some information that is referenced regarding why home milled wheat is superior to purchased whole wheat products .....if that is the case. I have to believe it is, but I just don't know where to start in finding info on how it's actually produced. thanks! 

Breadwhiner's picture

I don't have exact references, but I have read that commercial whole wheat is produced by taking white flour and adding back the correct proportion of bran and germ. One problem with commercial production is that the milling process tends to get hot, which can cause important volatile components of the wheat to be lost. There is nothing to prevent store-bought whole wheat from going rancid-- some recommend freezing flour at home to slow down this process, but many active home bakers use up their 5 lb bags within weeks if not days of purchase.

Store brought whole wheat bread has preservatives, which help to prevent mold formation, bacterial growth and oxidation (the process that makes the oils go rancid). Store brough whole wheat is stored in plastic bags, which increases shelf life, but prevents a decent crust from being established.

Short of milling one's own flour, Red Mill sells organic stoneground whole wheat flour at Wild Oats for about $5 for a 5 lb bag. Stone ground is supposed to be as good as home milled, but with any commercial flour there is some time between milling and purchase. Home milling is an expensive prospect and by no means easy. But for the best possible flour, it is the way to go, in theory at least.

ruby's picture

I grind my own flour, but in explaining the benefits, I've been asked, for nutritional purposes only, why bother milling wheat, when you can buy 100% whole ground wheat flour in the store and/or already made bread that is also 100% whole wheat. Yes, they realize the taste is probably better with home ground, but they argue that if they can stand the flavor, and it's nutrtitionally the same, why bother.

 I am suspecting that since the FDA only requires 1/2 of the product to be 100% whole wheat, in order to earn that "stamp" that most are using that to their advantage, and that somewhere along the line something has been removed, or added, or chemically just has to be, otherwise you'd think it would go rancid quite quickly, losing them money. I'm thinking i ought to just start calling mill companies and asking they actually manufacture their flour.....

Ricardo's picture

Where I am speaking from commercial flour that is large bags are marked in batches since milling is done in that amount or batches maked with day and date as well as numbers that can be referred back to the miller at any time if there are problems. Millers often resort to mixes so that allows them to keep a reasonable standard for that kind of flour. Some stabilisers are added but in the whole the wheat used is ground to specifications been 100% that is the flour with the greatest amount of ash  and the farina00 type with the least and therefore whiter colour and texture and around 75% extraction, preferred by some etnic groups like Italian, Turkish among others.

The rancidity of the flour is due to transport and storage such factors do influence the final produce and the way it presents to you after baking regardless of the final packaging environmental fumes and othe smells as well as temperature have an impact on flour.