18 Jun Flour – The Facts
June 30, 2013
“Flour – The Facts”
Flour is our baking buddy. Years ago, our kitchen was stocked with one or two types of flour. Today, there are so many types, all made from nuts, grains, legumes, seeds, and vegetable sources. So what is flour? Flour is the grounded part of these nuts, grains, legumes, seeds, and vegetable sources. Nowadays, gluten-free blends are available in plant sources, vegetable sources, and non-wheat grains to accommodate those with Celiac’s Disease or who are sensitive to gluten. Gluten-free blends come from potatoes, tapioca, and beans (fava and garbanzo beans).
The best advice I can give you regarding whole-grain flour is to store it well, in air-tight containers or in the refrigerator. This is because the oils in whole-grains turn rancid over time. If you refrigerate your whole-grain flour, take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature before using. In other words, flour bakes best at room temperature.
Here are the most sold flours and their descriptions:
1. Almond flour (almond meal): Made from blanched almonds. It contains 6 grams of protein per ¼ cup, 3 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of fat (which 95% is unsaturated fat). Almond flour adds moisture to baked goods. Do not try to replace almond flour with flour in yeast. Almond flour turns rancid quickly so don’t store for too long.
2. Amaranth flour: Made from ancient seeds and contains complete proteins (lysine). Amaranth flour is used for thickening sauces, soups, and other gravy-type sauces.
3. Barley flour: Made from whole-grain barley and contains a lot of fiber (4 grams per ¼ cup). Barley flour adds fiber to baked goods but it not good for rising (breads). It is also good for thickening sauces, soups, stews, and other gravy-type sauces.
4. Buckwheat flour: Made from buckwheat. This flour works best when making homemade pasta, bread, and pancakes. When making bread, you must combine it with other flours to help it rise.
5. Flaxseed flour (flaxseed meal): Made from flaxseeds and contains omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed contains 2 grams of fiber per 1 teaspoon. Flaxseed is used to make baked goods, as a fat or egg substitute. Flaxseed is NOT for rising.
6. Oat flour: Made from oat groats. Oat flour adds a nutty flavor and extra texture to baked goods, but it needs to be combined with other flours in order to help rise.
7. Potato flour: Made from potatoes and contains 400mg of potassium per ¼ cup! Potato flour is used to thicken creamy soups, creamy sauces, and even to make frozen desserts. Potato flour also helps bind patties (chicken patties, veggie patties, etc.) because it retains moisture.
8. Rice flour (brown): Made from unpolished brown rice. Brown rice flour contains 2 grams of fiber per ¼ cup and has a nutty flavor. The difference between brown rice flour and white rice flour is that brown rice flour contains more fiber than white, and it gives a grittier texture to baked goods (like corn bread). White rice flour is very starchy and is used a lot in Asian dishes to help thicken their sauces and rice.
9. Rye flour: Made from rye and it contains 4 grams of fiber per ¼ cup. Rye rice flour contains less gluten than the other grain flours, but it’s heavy. This heavy feature makes rye flour great for baking bread.
10. Spelt flour: Made from ancient spelt, which is a cousin to wheat. Spelt flour contains 4 grams of protein per ¼ cup, 4 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of iron. It has a nutty flavor and can be used to substitute wheat flour when baking. Spelt flour may cause allergic reactions in those who are allergic to wheat.
11. Soy flour: Made from milled soybeans. Soy flour contains 10 grams of protein per ¼ cup! It also contains 3 grams of fiber, and is lower in carbohydrates than most flours (it contains 8 grams of carbs per ¼ cup). Soy flour contains calcium as well! It is used to thicken sauces and gravies, baking bread and cookies, and can be substituted for wheat flour.
My personal first choice of baking flour is almond, then oat. I love the taste of both (that nutty flavor), and I love the nutrient content. When I cook and flour my meat, I use either soy flour or potato flour. I feel they are healthier choices, and the potato flour helps bind some recipes and lock in moisture.
I hope this article brings you the knowledge you are looking for in the world of flour. The baking and cooking industry has changed a lot, and so has the flour! Eat well.