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Wheat Flour Terms

Enriched flour is supplemented with iron and four B-vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid). These nutrients are added back to the processed flour in amounts equal to or greater than amounts found in the unprocessed flour

Fortified implies that something is added to a product that makes its nutritional status higher than the product made from “unprocessed” raw materials. i.e. cereals. Calcium and folic acid are examples of nutrients added to fortified flour.

Refined, unenriched flour has had the germ and bran removed with only the endosperm remaining.  This represents less than 5 percent of the total white flour milled in the U.S.  It is primarily for organic and artisanal products.  A small amount goes into mixes for overseas consumption.

Pre-sifted flour is sifted at the mill, making it unnecessary to sift before measuring.

Bromated
flour is largely discontinued in the United States. Ascorbic acid is now being added to strengthen the flour for bread doughs.

Bleached
refers to flour that has been bleached chemically to whiten or improve the baking qualities. It is a process which speeds up the natural lightening and maturing of flour. No change occurs in the nutritional value of the flour and no harmful chemical residues remain.

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

Patent
flour, bleached or unbleached, is the highest grade of flour. It is lower in ash and protein with good color. Market-wise it is considered the highest in value and mostly used by bakers.

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

Gluten
is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. 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.

Learn more about Gluten in the Diet

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