Whole Wheat Flour

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A variety of flour that is ground from the full wheat berry. All parts of the wheat berry are used in the flour including the bran, germ, and the endosperm, which when milled, creates the speckled brown color that is characteristic of the flour.

Whole-wheat flour used for bread making is usually milled from red wheat. White whole-wheat flour is milled from hard white winter wheat and has a milder flavor, lighter color, and a texture that is not as course. Whole-wheat flour used alone in bread making results in a nutritious, but smaller and denser loaf due to the bran, which hinders the dough from rising fully. In order to create a bread loaf that is a bit lighter and of greater volume, it is often best to combine whole-wheat flour with all-purpose flour or bread flour. When combining whole-wheat flour with all-purpose flour, 1 cup of all-purpose flour is equivalent to 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of whole-wheat flour.

Whole-wheat flour is much more nutritious than refined white flour and is often added to white flour to improve the nutritional value. Because it contains the entire wheat berry, whole-wheat flour retains all of the nutrients that are lacking in highly processed white flour (unless it has been enriched). Among the nutrients present in whole-wheat flour are high levels of protein, fiber, iron, B vitamins, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.

The shelf life of whole-wheat flour is shorter than highly processed white flour varieties due to the presence of the wheat germ, resulting in an unsaturated oil content that is higher than refined flour. The potential for rancidity is greater if whole-wheat flour is kept for long periods of time and particularly if it is not stored under refrigerated conditions. It is best to store whole-wheat flour in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.

It is important to read the label carefully when purchasing whole-wheat flour, as some designations can be misleading. Flour labeled as “enriched flour with bran” may have the appearance of whole-wheat flour, but is not true whole-wheat flour.

Whole-wheat flour may also be referred to as “entire wheat flour”, “100% extraction flour”, or “graham flour” (although there are some differences) named after the Rev. Sylvester Graham who was a pioneer in developing and advocating healthy foods. In Britain, whole-wheat flour is often referred to as “wholemeal” flour.

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