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Terms to grow your flour power

December 01, 2004

Terms associated with flour include:

· Bleached, which refers to flour that has been bleached chemically to whiten or improve the baking qualities. No change occurs in the nutritional value of the flour, and no harmful chemical residues remain.

· Unbleached, which refers to flour that is aged and bleached naturally by oxygen in the air. It is more golden in color, generally more expensive, and might not have the consistency in baking qualities that bleached flour does. Unbleached flour is preferred for yeast breads because bleaching affects gluten strength.

· Bromated, which refers to the bromates added to cure the flour, ensuring consistency of the finished products in terms of the flours' strengths.

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· Enriched, which is flour that's supplemented with iron and four B vitamins in equal amounts to what was removed with the bran and germ, plus supplemented with calcium. There is no change in taste, color, texture, baking quality or caloric value.

· Extraction rate, which refers to the amount of the wheat berry milled into flour.

· Gluten, which is a protein formed when water and wheat flour is mixed. Gluten gives bread dough elasticity, strength and gas-retaining properties. Wheat is the only grain with sufficient gluten content to make raised or leavened loaves of bread.

· Organic or chemical-free, which refers to flour that is not standardized, so its definition varies from state to state. It might be grown and stored without the use of synthetic herbicides or insecticides. It also might mean no toxic fumigants were used to kill pests in the grain and no preservatives were added to the flour, packaging, or food product.

· Patent, which refers to the highest grade of flour. It is lower in ash and protein with good color.

· Presifted, which refers to flour that was sifted at the mill.

· Whole wheat, which refers to flour that contains the wheat germ and bran. It's more nutritious and has a stronger flavor than white flour. Look for such key words as "whole-wheat flour" and "whole-meal flour." Terms such as "enriched wheat flour," "unbleached wheat flour" and "wheat flour" denote flours that have been processed into white flour.

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