The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How Good Could Storebought Wholemeal Flour Be?

abrogard's picture

How Good Could Storebought Wholemeal Flour Be?


 I want to start using wholemeal flour, in fact I've started and like the taste so much I want to continue.

 But reading about milling your own wheat and making really GOOD flour I find that wholemeal flour goes rancid in about a week.

 So just how good could the wholemeal flour I'm buying in a packet from the supermarket be?

 It must have something removed in which case it wouldn't be wholemeal, or something added in which case there's a danger of eating the things I'm trying to get away from.

 I searched the forums before posting this but didn't find this specific question and answers.




 ab :)




subfuscpersona's picture

...where are you getting that information? Is it from this site or elsewhere?Can you provide links?

Yerffej's picture

Once the grain is milled and the fat content of the germ is released into the whole grain flour the road to rancidity begins.  I do think that it would require a few months at room temperature rather than a week for the flour to become rancid.


rayel's picture

Laurel says wheat germ, once milled, goes rancid in several days at room temperature. I keep my certified organic, stone ground whole wheat flour in the freezer. I honestly can't see how store purchased whole wheat can have such long "use by dates." Especially when they are kept at room temp.


naschol's picture

From everything I've read on the subject, the germ and bran are removed from the berry before processing the endosperm.  The germ contains the oil in the berry.  Some of the bran is added back in, which they consider makes it "whole grain".  I also store my excess home milled flour in the freezer until use.



abrogard's picture


I'll be happy to provide a link. There's many such can be found and I see we've already got posts supporting the contention.

The link I'd like to provide leads to a very provocative page indeed and I'd be very interested in whatever discussion reading that page might prompt.

I'm sure it will interest all of us interested in bread.


Here it is:


p.s.  Continued reading of this question, including some very authoritative stuff and some apparently very open and well meaning, public spirited stuff - such a Laucke flour mills extensive website ( just makes me convinced it is such an incredible mishmash of deception and trickery, vagueness, complication, that the only thing for a man to do is get his own wheat and mill it himself as needed.

so I'm looking out for a small home mill that will produce say 1kg of flour in maybe 10minutes to a quarter of an hour of hand cranking, maybe. That's about enough work on a daily basis I think. Or maybe something motorised that would produce that much in a few minutes.

If anyone know anything....



p.p.s.  Or maybe a man should just design and build his own... We're in trouble from letting too much be done for us, aren't we?

 How about the old mortar and pestle for a few minutes every day? I wonder how much flour I'd get out of that? And how good would it be?




gcook17's picture

I didn't read the entire article by Cranton, but in the final paragraph he argues that since "Whole grains contain more of everything"  they have more gluten.  But since the gluten (or at least the glutenin and gliadin that combine to form gluten) is found in the endosperm, not the bran or germ, whole grain flour would contain a lower percentage of gluten than white flour, wouldn't it?  How many of you that have made both white and whole wheat bread really think that whole wheat flour has more gluten than white flour.

Additionally, I don't think it is very helpful to simply say that a food does not "meet the criteria for good nutrition" because something is taken out of it.  How much of it is taken out?  How much less heathful is it?  What is the real effect on the human body?  Is it good enough for the price that is charged for it?  If a poor person can't afford to buy the perfectly healthful food should they starve, or should they buy another product that is nutritious enough, even though it isn't absolutely perfect?

Sorry, I have one more thing to say...the only source cited in this article was Hippocrates who may not be the most up-to-date and accurate authority on nutrition.  It's hard to take all the sweeping claims (note the lack of statistics and use of the words like  "most" and "widespread" for example) seriously when the good doctor doesn't provide any verifiable, peer-reviewed research to support his claims.

Okay, I'm getting down off my soapbox, now.

ericb's picture

For what it's worth, I have kept whole wheat flour for at least a month at room temperature and never had it go rancid. I just buy it from a regular grocery store, so it's probably been sitting on the shelf for at least a week before I bring it home.

I read the information in the link you provided, and I didn't see any of what you might call a "mishmash of deception and trickery, vagueness, complication." It sounds to me like they're just describing about how flour is made.

Where are you located that you can't buy decent whole grain flour? What brand of flour is it that you buy? What specific improvements or changes in your bread do you hope to get from home-milling?


(By the way, grinding flour with a mortar and pestle would be an excellent way to build up awesome biceps).

abrogard's picture


 well what I mean really mainly applies to the govt regulations, I guess. I'm thinking of such things as less than whole flours being legally described as 'whole wheat', and flours being 'whole' because they've got things added in, and flours (breads) being described as wholemeal when they're merely coloured white flour.

I'm mixing in bread descriptions/sales/regulations together with flour descriptions/sales/regulations there, I know.

Take the wholemeal flour you're buying and that I've bought. They simply can't be.

Cranton says:

After wheat has been ground, natural wheat-germ oil becomes rancid at about the same rate that milk becomes sour. Whole-wheat flour and bread should therefore be stored in a cool place, preferably in a refrigerator.

Doesn't matter much how you refrigerate milk it soon goes off.

I guess Cranton would be 'fringe' and would have lots of critics and detractors and may well have lots of things wrong. I'll be interested to read it all, I won't fight against the truth, that's not my objective.  But I'll bet simple remark about the simple fact of wheat-germ oil is correct.  That's just a punt but it's what I feel.

Did you read this bit:

One manufacturer even added sawdust to replace the lost bran, calling it cellulose on the label and advertising it as "high-fiber" bread.

So the link I provided was to Cranton, wasn't it? Well it points to deception and trickery, that's virtually the whole thrust of his page.

Beyond that there's store after store after store selling us 'health food' and supposedly good bread and all using flours that have either been chemically treated to stay unspoiled or which are less than whole.

Where do I live? Australia. South Australia.

But I didn't say I couldn't buy good flour. Maybe I can't. Maybe I can. I haven't pulled out all the stops trying yet.

What flour do I use. Lauckes. I gave a link to their site:

Very impressive aren't they? You'd say you'd get the best from them, wouldn't you? Well, I'll find out. I didn't buy their wholemeal yet and I won't until they explain to me if it keeps or not. And, if it keeps, why does it keep if it's wholemeal.

What specific improvements or changes? Are you serious? Doesn't the Cranton post make it obvious?  I expect an improvement in taste. I expect to no longer be ingesting unwanted chemicals.  I expect to be getting a full complement of natural nutrients from wheatflour.

Lastly: awesome biceps? Well, maybe, but that wouldn't be so bad, would it? But, no, I don't have the time each day to devote so much time to such a task that it would lead to that result. I need to find a quicker way to produce the flour. But, as I say, I only need, at this stage, one  kilogram a day, that's all I use.

But, by god, I wouldn't be surprised if I suddenly didn't need to produce ten times the quantity if I got it going with all natural and whole product as I'm aiming for.



 ab  :)



We should be asking Nancy. Nancy... 'home milled' ? Would you tell us what you use?




subfuscpersona's picture

I'm as interested in the quality of food I eat as the next persion, but I am a sceptic when it comes to many of the food claims bandied about the internet. If you're interested in scientific studies, one accessible 'net resource is the journal Cereal Chemistry; back issues are available at

Now, let's bring the discussion of whole grain flour down to a more accessible level. Home bakers can buy whole wheat (or other grain) flour or they can mill it themselves. There are many reputable sources of whole wheat flour in the USA and if you search this forum you will find specific brand recommendations from experienced bakers.

TFL also has a solid community of bakers who home mill their flour. The collective experience of these bakers is that bread baked with home milled wheat flour used within 48 hours of milling tastes better than the same bread made with even the most reputable whole wheat flour. This says nothing about the relative nutritional value of home-milled vs commercial whole wheat flour but it is one area where a clear concensus has developed on TFL.

If you want control over your whole wheat flour, your best bet is to mill it at home. Not every baker is interested in doing this and, as noted, there are excellent sources in the USA for whole wheat (and other whole grain) flours. Also, even bakers with long, successful experience using commercial whole wheat flour frequently go through a transitional period learning how to bake with home milled flour. There are differences between the two.

If you want to purchase a grain mill, you are better off purchasing an electric mill. Few bakers have the patience to mill grain with a hand mill week after week.

Electric grain mills fall into two categories - the more traditional mills that use a fixed and a rotating grooved "stone" and micronizer (aka impact) mills (the latter use a different technique to produce flour).

Examples of the traditional mill for home use is the Retsel or the Fidibus (aka Komo/Fidibus aka Wolfgang aka Tribest). Expect to pay $400 or more for these mills. These mills are well made and flexible, as the user can adjust the fineness of the grind. They handle most bread grains (wheat, rye, spelt, kamut) well. If you search TFL, you will find reviews of these mills by experienced users.

Examples of micronizer mills are the Nutrimill and the Wonder Mill (aka the Whisper mill). The Wonder mill is, I believe, no longer made but is frequently available on eBay. Again, there are TFL members who have used both these brands and are well satisfied. Micronizer mills are less expensive (the Nutrimill sells for about $270), can handle large or small amounts of grain, are speedy and easy to use. Their chief  limitation is that they cannot produce a coarse flour or grits; a second criticism is that they may produce more starch damage during milling. The second criticism was voiced by TFL member Mike Avery several years back. Mike is a long time bread baker, a baking teacher and has also run a small scale bakery (he also has his own web site). Starch damage during milling may adversely affect the ability of the dough to "spring" in the oven during the bake.

I personally own a Nutrimill, a KitchenAid (Hobart era design) grain mill attachment and a Lee Household Flour Mill. (The Lee mill is a stone mill that uses a unique approach to milling flour.) I use all three on a regular basis. In the past I also owned two low-cost hand mills; I would not recommend most of the low-cost hand mills on the market.

I purchase organic grain, mostly by mail order. Hard spring wheat is a good choice for whole wheat flour. See this TFL thread Wheat: Red vs White; Spring vs Winter for more information.

I try to use my home milled flour within 48 hours of milling. Sometimes I mill extra, in which case I store it in the refrigerator in a paper bag. Whether home milled or store bought, I recommend storing your flour in the refrigerator if it will be used up in about a month. All whole grain and whole bean flour keeps well if frozen, as long as you have the freezer space. There are other TFL members who have no qualms storing whole grain flour in a kitchen cupboard though they tend to use it up within 4 - 8 weeks.

Lastly, for home-milled flour, there is the question of whether, if not used within 48 hours, the flour should be aged. Briefly, when wheat is milled, enzymes start to affect the baking properties of the flour - specifically the flour's ability to develop gluten. If the flour is not used immediately, a storage period of from 2 to 8 weeks is recommended. Unbleached commercial white flour is stored for a month or two (unsure of the exact time frame here) before being distributed. However, among home millers, the jury is still out on this issue. I do try to give any extra home milled flour a resting period (in the refrigerator) of at least 2 weeks, but have not done any systematic tests of whether this is necessary.

I realize this has been a long post, but I hope I was able to answer some of your questions. If you search TFL, you will find a wealth of additional information.

abrogard's picture

That was an excellent and informative post, thank you.

It reinforces my opinion that I should  be milling my own flour.

Searching the web brings me constantly to new information, scientific especially.

But even Laucke's site was very informative. They appear to have met and dealt with all of the issues that Cranton raised. Seems to me that Cranton is maybe out of date, maybe he wrote that piece fifty years ago or something. I'll look into it.

But Laucke, for instance, say that their rollers do NOT operate at a high temperature which is damaging nutrients in the grain. And that is a very major thing.

And they give details of the shelf life of all their flours.

And they give intelligent scientific accounts of things that happen with grains and flours.

But they don't say why their wholemeal lasts as long as it does. So I've emailed them and asked them and I feel they will reply honestly.

It is interesting, to me at least, to note they sell a 'wholemeal' that has been manufactured by adding back to a base stream other streams of flour constituents. NOT foreign chemicals or such, but actual flour fractions that have been previously separated out are now added back in.

AND they claim this is a 'better' flour, in a wholemeal sense, than wholemeal itself! That's a pretty good one, eh?

Thanks for all the info about mills. I'll search for the brands you mention and I'm currently searching with a couple of those Asian exporter/marketing web sites to see if I can find something that might be a bit of a bargain.

I would like to design and build my own but there's realistically not much chance of that happening. However I'll keep it in mind and discuss it with engineering style friends.

I like very much what you say here: .

"The collective experience of these bakers is that bread baked with home milled wheat flour used within 48 hours of milling tastes better than the same bread made with even the most reputable whole wheat flour"

I think I'll go for that.





egollatz's picture

I have to say that nothing tastes better that bread baked from immediatley ground wheat.. 

I just purchased a wondermill (which by the way now is offering a 30.00 rebate).. 

I have tried a simple wheat bread and a rye bread...  so delicious


abrogard's picture


 Well thank you for that.

 I googled your 'wondermill' and found them selling a thing called 'whispermill', here in Australia.

 I think $700 is a bit beyond our budget at the moment, unfortunately, so I'll have to continue looking.

 But they do have a totally excellent page which might interest anyone in doubt as to why we are preferring wholemeal,  milled by ourselves, to shop bought flours.

Here it is:



ab :)



abrogard's picture

Revisiting this old thread I have had an email from Laucke flour mills which may interest people interested in this topic.

I showed them Dr Cranton's article, the link to which is in a post of mine earlier in this thread.  The subjects referred to in this email are drawn from that article.

It is interesting they support the contention there is more nutrition in white flour and state that for real nutritional value we need sourdough fermentation!

They do not, however, specifically state how long their (wholemeal) flour will last before going rancid and when I sent a follow-up email telling them I proposed to publish their email if they didn't object and asking for a definitive statement on the rancidity question, they didn't reply.

Hoever they certainly create a good impression with me.

Here it is:

Thank you for your email. The article appears to be well intentioned,
unfortunately much of the information is very dated or overly

To dispel a few myths about stone ground flour, please refer the below

RE: 'Roller mills run very hot and destroy vitamins etc.'
Stone grinding creates high levels of friction, and heat is trapped by
the stones and within the flour, causing the generation of sustained
high temperatures. Stone grinding damages the wheat germ more so that it
goes rancid more quickly (and also degrades the protein).
Cast Iron rollers in steel mills, used by virtually all commercial
millers, generate heat by shear rather than friction because the gap
between the rolls can be accurately set and maintained. Thus less heat
is generated than with stone mills. Also, the heat does not build up
because air is used to cool the equipment and transport the product. The
temperature of a cast iron roller never gets high - a miller regularly
is able to place the palm of the hand on the surface of an operating
smooth roll. Also, the grain particles being ground are only in the
"nip" of the roll for the merest fraction of a second - not enough time
to transfer much heat at all. The ground product normally becomes warm
only for a second or so after grinding.

RE: 'Metal Roller mills were developed in the industrial revolution to
mass-produce flour at a faster rate than grinding stones, and at the
expense of quality and nutrition.'
Metal Roller Mills using cast iron rolls were gradually developed
because they produced better quality flour. These metal mills were much
more costly and initially had lower throughput. There is actually more
nutrition in white flour because the outer layers are mostly
indigestible, and what nutrients are contained are "locked up". However,
we modern humans do not lack nutrition per se, we lack a balanced diet.
Wholemeal flour is, on balance, better for us than white flour. The key
to availability of nutrients in the grain is actually Fermentation (eg
sour dough). Longer fermentation makes bread more digestible, and the
nutrients more available.

RE: 'To make bread a brighter white, at the expense of consumer health,
flour is treated with chemical bleach.'
Americans still bleach flour. Flour bleaching is not common practice in
Australia. Laucke products attempt to be 100% natural with active
avoidance of unnecessary additives. Laucke were the first mill in
Australia to stop bleaching flour, and do not use preservatives, or
protein modifiers

RE: 'Grain millers in the nineteenth century soon discovered that highly
refined flour would keep without spoiling for prolonged periods, even
before the days of chemical preservatives and refrigeration.'
Flour stays fresher for longer due to modern milling techniques, as
described above.

Want the healthiest bread based diet?
Don't source wheat directly from a farmer because it could have been
treated with a chemical, and because the bread making quality will be
very variable and indeterminate. Over generations, we have built
trusting relationships with grain growers, source our grain by
individual variety where possible and with great care, and specifically
preclude the addition of chemical pesticides, ensuring that the grain is
certified free of contaminants. We clean it, blend it, condition it, and
mill it, going to enormous trouble to ensure we create products that we
are proud of, and are safe.
My grandfather and great grandfather used to mill with stones, and we
are in the process of commencing to mill with stones again so as to
satisfy some customer requests. However, we suggest that you obtain our
roller milled wholemeal flour. Or better, our Bio-Fort Selenium Golden
Wholemeal bread mix, and if you can, make bread at home from it using
the sourdough process. This would be the absolute pinnacle of health,
nutrition, and eating enjoyment.

I hope this information is of help to you.

Best Regards,
Alexandra Laucke

 ab  :)