The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Organic vs Non-organic Flour

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tmac's picture

Organic vs Non-organic Flour

I have been baking a french baguette recipe with KA all purpose flour.  I need to bake some more for Christmas but could only find the KA organic all purpose at market today.  I would assume I can just substitute one for one between the two flours, but don't have the experience to say for sure.  I did note that the recipes for baguettes on the back of the sack is different from the one on the KA site for normal all purpose flour.

 Thanks for any help. 


sphealey's picture

In the midwest at least, the most common King Arthur organic all-purpose flour on the shelves is the European Artisan Organic All-Purpose. I think they have a traditional US organic AP in the catalog but it is seldom seen in grocery stores in the midwest.

If you search out the spec sheets for the three flours (standard AP, organic standard AP, and European Artisan Organic AP) on the KA site (not an easy task) you will find that the European AP has a slightly lower protein content and a higher ash (mineral) content.  I think it has a higher proportion of spring and/or soft wheat as well.

In practice I have found that the Artisan AP is a little silkier than the other other two, sometimes needs a little less water, and produces a slightly less "tough" dough (my term, not a baking definition). But I use the the standard and organic AP and the Bread Flour interchangably depending on what is on sale.


tmac's picture

Thanks very much.

 My wife suggested I try the KA hotline.  They answered on the first ring.  Amazing!  A very helpful person gave me the same advice - use them interchangably.

Thanks again. I've been practicing making this recipe so we can take it to a Christmas Eve dinner. It's been coming out great, but I did not want to take any chances.

 Happy Holidays!


sphealey's picture

Yes, the King Arthur help line has to be one of the most helpful help lines in the world. But I imagine it is a bit tough telling your family you are going to be working until midnight Christmas Eve and noon Christmas Day (and the same on Thanksgiving) ;-(  My hats are off to them.


Thegreenbaker's picture

well, the only difference really is that the wheat used to make organic flour hasnt been sprayed with chemicals.

If KA have titled it "all purpose" the same as ordinary "all puepose" then the only difference is that one is grown using synthetic fertilizers and herbicide, fungicide and pesticides to keep weeds and bugs off so they can have a "better, higher yielding crop" and the organic employs other natural methods to keep these things at bay.....


I use organic flour. It is the same, I just know that I am a. Not polluting the environment, our air, water and soil with chemicals that are very harmful to animals, but also b. that I am not consumming any more chemicals than has to be consumed and that my family and young children are not consuming them either.


Sorry, I am on a high horse, but, its close to my heart.




They will both do the same job.



sphealey's picture

Interestingly, while King Arthur is not immune to playing the "marketing product name"[1] game there are some differences among its AP flours. The last time I looked the detailed specs were only available on their site under the Prospective Commercial Customer section, but if you find those specs and compare you will see that they are not exactly the same flours. I believe the intent of the Artisan All Purpose is to be more like a French baguette flour, which has a lower protein content (probably due to a higher proportion of soft spring wheat) and a higher ash content than standard US-style all purpose flour. I will further guess that this flour ended up being organic just because the wheats they wanted to use were more available in organic and if that is the case why not since they could then charge a bit more too.

The differences don't affect the home baker for the most part (except perhaps for baguettes and pizza dough) but they are there.


[1] Were my eyes opened when I first went from an industrial products company to a consumer goods company. "Trust no one my little marmoset, no one. Not even me.".

Normnbar's picture

Is it true non organic flour is harvested by first spraying Roundup on the wheat as a disicant, a drying agent, to facilitate the harvest? I have read several articles stating such. And researched publications advertising Roundup for this use.

pmccool's picture

Potatoes, yes, but not wheat.  I can't imagine why a farmer would want to incur the additional expense when the wheat plant is effectively dead and dry by the time the grain is ripe and ready for harvest.  Sounds like an urban (as in doesn't know farming practices) legend.  

Grain is often dried after harvest to achieve an acceptable moisture level but that involves heaters and blowers, not herbicides. 

BTW, Snopes has also debunked the myth.