Flour Properties

This is a good place to start learning about your freshly milled flour. Here are the definitions to some important terms you may find on our packaging as well as the Current Selections page of this website.

Milling Date

The date a specific batch of flour was milled. Kept in a cool, dry place, our flour will stay fresh up to 6 months. To prolong the life of your flour, store it refrigerated or frozen. Remember, we exist so that you have a steady supply of fresh local flour. We’d rather have you buy in smaller quantities that you can use up quickly. Come back and see us more often instead of freezing our product for long storage!

Type of Wheat

This is how wheat is classified based on its hardness, color and growing season. These are the 6 main categories

These are the 6 main categories

Hard Red Winter

Soft Red Winter

Hard Red Spring

Hard White

Soft White

Durum

Wheat variety

The name of the specific wheat variety, such as White Sonora, Red Fife or India Jammu

Protein Percentage

Protein percentage has traditionally been used to judge a flour’s quality and baking strength. A higher protein percentage, such as 12-15% generally means stronger flour best suited for breads. Lower protein flour, such as 8-10%, is the better choice for cakes, cookies and biscuits – baked goods that incorporate chemical leavening. But be aware; not all protein is created equal. It is not just the percentage of protein that matters, but the quality of the protein. This can be determined by using the farinograph test, which analyses dough by its resistance to paddle mixing. It helps determine important qualities such as water absorption, tolerance to mixing, and dough stability.

Extraction Rate

The amount of flour that is extracted or milled from a given amount of wheat. A 100% Extraction flour is a whole grain or wholemeal flour, milled to retain 100% of its components: bran, germ and endosperm. Lower extraction rate flours indicate that less of the bran and germ remain in the flour after milling. For example, a traditional powdery fine pastry flour has a low extraction rate of 45-55%, which means it is composed primarily of the white starchy endosperm with the vast majority of bran and germ sifted out.

Ash Content

Refers to the mineral content of a flour after milling. A specific quantity of flour is incinerated to burn off all the organic matter, leaving only the mineral residue. Since the greatest amount of minerals are found in the bran and germ, flour that contains higher amounts of bran and germ will have a higher ash content. The ash content is directly related to the Extraction Rate. High extraction flour, such as a whole grain flour contains a high level of bran and germ, therefore a high level of minerals, resulting in a high ash content.

Falling Number

This test evaluates the soundness of wheat by measuring its enzyme activity, or alpha-amylase activity. We are basically looking at potential sprout damage here. A flour/water slurry is mixed and heated in a test tube to release the starch from water. A plunger is placed on the slurry. The length of time it takes the plunger to sink to the bottom of the tube in seconds is recorded. The more seconds it takes the plunger to drop to the bottom, the higher the falling number. A high falling number indicates lower enzyme activity, slower conversion of starch into sugar, and therefore a slower fermentation process. Lower falling numbers mean that the plunger fell through the slurry in less time pointing to higher enzyme activity, which can result in a sticky dough and reduced loaf volume.

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