April Showers Bring Spring Flour(s)

04/01/2013

The sun is shining, the clocks have sprung forward, and the days are growing longer—spring has officially arrived! As the trees bloom and the birds begin to nest, the Wheat Foods Council would like to recognize this special season of growth by acknowledging our personal favorite kind of “flour.”

Overview

Flour is the product obtained by grinding wheat kernels [BN1] or “berries.” The kernel is the seed from which the wheat plant grows. It contains three distinct, edible parts: the bran (the outer covering of the grain); the germ (the embryo contained inside the kernel); and the endosperm (the part of the kernel used to produce white flour). Usually, during the milling process[BN2] , the three parts are separated and recombined accordingly to achieve different types of flours.

History

Ground grain was one of civilized man’s first foods. Ancient methods of grinding can be traced to the Far East, Egypt and Rome. Grinding stones from Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic have been found embedded with starch grains, suggesting that 30,000 years ago people processed roots from cattails and ferns into flour. Wheat was first planted in the United States in 1602 on an island off the Massachusetts coast, and wind- and tidal-powered mills began appearing soon thereafter.

Today, wheat flour is among the most critical food staples in European, North American, Middle Eastern, Indian and North African cultures, and is the defining ingredient in most of their styles of breads, pastries and baked goods.

 

Types of Flour

Bread flour, self-rising flour, whole wheat flour—the list goes on! If you’re looking to expand your baking horizons, think flour. There’s a lot more than “all-purpose” out there.  In general, the harder the wheat, the higher the protein content in the flour. Soft, low-protein wheats are used for cakes, pastries, cookies and crackers, while hard, high-protein wheats make excellent breads. (Want to learn more about the various types of flour? Click here[BN3]  for some Flour 101[BN4] !)

Flour Power – Fast Facts about Our Favorite Ground Grain

·        Wheat is the primary grain used in U.S. grain products — approximately three-quarters of all U.S. grain products are made from wheat flour.

·        California is number one in flour milling in the United States, with Kansas a close second.

·        There is approximately 16 ounces of flour in a one-and-a-half pound loaf of bread.

·        Pillsbury began its annual 'Bake-off' in 1950 to promote its flour.

·        One whole grain of wheat makes over 20,000 particles of flour.

·        One bushel of wheat yields approximately 42 pounds of white flour or 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour.

·        There are approximately 16 ounces of flour in a one-and-a-half pound loaf of bread.

·        Store all flours in airtight containers; store whole grain flour in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent it from going rancid.

Related Resources

·        Grains of Truth – Wheat Flour[BN5] 

·        Types of Wheat Flour: An Easy-to-Reference Guide for Home Bakers[BN6] 

·        Flour Power – Learn About Different Kinds of Flours [BN7] 

·        Flour Power: Registered Dietitian Jill Weisenberger shows you which flour to use for baking and good nutrition [BN8] 

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