The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

musings on flour quality

expatCanuck's picture

musings on flour quality

So I thought I'd save some money on my starter flour.  I mean, single-celled organisms aren't gonna know the difference, right?  And KAF all-purpose is a little pricey.

Bought the store brand 5 lb. bag for $1.60 or so.


Within two days, the starter went acidic, gray and (almost) lifeless.

Substituted TJ's all-purpose and, within a couple of days, the organisms forgave me.

Who'd a thunk?

RoundhayBaker's picture

...the store-bought flour? And how old was it?

expatCanuck's picture

Don't recall additives (and have since burned the bag to prime the grill), but the bag was well within the 'best before' date.

Alex Bois's picture
Alex Bois

If you can, try fresh flour for start maintenance. The organisms will thank you in very tangible ways!

Batnotinc's picture

I settle in the middle. I don't buy the cheapest, but I also don't go for the most expensive either. Hasn't let me down yet

Jane Dough's picture
Jane Dough

Sometimes the store brands will surprise you. 

I buy the Club Pack from my local Superstore after learning its from the same local mill that I go out of my way to purchase. 

suave's picture

You've discovered what many people before you had - some starters like strong flours and don't do well when fed weaker all-purpose flour. 

Wild-Yeast's picture

Never buy flour on price alone.


- Test Coupon a new flour

- Find a reliable source

- Buy as direct as possible from the miller

Milling is a difficult art in that wheat varies a great deal from field to field and season to season. Great bread begins in the wheat field..,


expatCanuck's picture

WY - I'm not understanding - what does it mean to 'Test Coupon' a new flour?


 - Richard

Wild-Yeast's picture


A "Test Coupon" is a test build from the assembled ingredients to insure that they meet specifications. The practice began in the welding industry but has now spread throughout high tech and is now used to describe a common practice to insure compliance.

The implication for business and baking is to sample the bulk flour before committing to a large buy. I just completed a test coupon for Costco California's "new" supplier for organic flour Ardent Mills, "A company that offers the industry’s broadest range of flours, mixes, blends and specialty products, customized to meet your needs and backed by unrivaled technical support, customer service and the supply assurance of a coast-to-coast network".

The two test loaves came out well in physical appearance but failed taste and storage abilities. I exercised Costco's return policy on the two ten pound sacks minus that used for the test loaves which sold for $10.99. An order was then placed with Central Milling, Petaluma, CA for a 50 pound sack of their "Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Plus" flour. This is the same flour as used in all the foremost artisan bread bakeries in Northern California. Price was $38.71 for the flour and $18.49 Fedex ground - total cost $57.20 - $1.14/lb. Costco was charging $14.99 for 20 pounds for AP diastatic malted flour ($0.75/lb)

So the loss of Costco's buying power is $0.39/lb. Do I need to build a test coupon for the best flour Keith Giusto offers for bread making? I don't have to, they are that trustworthy and I'll use an old adage to Central Milling - they are the "Nonesuch" of artisan organic flour...,



expatCanuck's picture

Thanks.  (Had to google 'nonesuch', tho'.)