is a powder
made of cereal
grains or roots
. It is the
main ingredient of bread
, which is a staple food
for many civilizations, making the
availability of adequate supplies of flour a major economic and
political issue at various times throughout history. Wheat
flour is one of the most important foods in
European and North American culture, and is the defining ingredient
in most European styles of breads
flour has been important in Mesoamerican
cuisine since ancient times, and
remains a staple in much of Latin
Flour contains high proportion of starches
which are complex carbohydrates
known as polysaccharides
. Leavening agents
are used with some flours,
especially those with significant gluten
content, to produce lighter and softer baked products by embedding
small gas bubbles.
The production of flour has also historically driven technological
development, as attempts to make gristmills
more productive and less
labor-intensive led to the watermill
, terms now applied more broadly to
uses of water and wind power for purposes other than milling.
The word "flour" was originally a variant of the word "flower
." Both derive from the Old French fleur
which had the literal meaning "blossom," and a figurative meaning
"the finest." The phrase "fleur de farine'" meant "the finest part
of the meal," since flour resulted from the elimination of coarse
and unwanted matter from the grain during milling.
Degerminated and heat processed flour
A central problem of the industrial revolution
preservation of flour. Transportation distances and a relatively
slow distribution system collided with natural shelf life. The
reason for the limited shelf life is the fatty acids
of the germ
which react from the moment they are exposed to oxygen. This occurs
when grain is milled; the fatty acids oxidize and flour starts to
become rancid.Depending on climate and grain quality this process
takes 6 to 9 months. In the late 19th century this period was too
short for an industrial production and distribution cycle. As
vitamins, micronutrients and amino acids were completely or
relatively unknown in the late 19th century, taking out the germ
was a brilliant solution. Without the germ, flour cannot become
rancid. Degerminated flour became standard.Degermination started in
densely populated areas and took approximately one generation to
reach the countryside.Heat-processed flour is flour where the germ
is first separated from the endosperm and bran, then processed with
steam, dry heat or microwave
into flour again.
- Amaranth flour is a flour produced from ground Amaranth grain. It was commonly used in
pre-Columbian meso-American cuisine. It is becoming more and more
available in speciality food shops.
- Atta flour is a
whole-grain wheat flour important in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, used for a range of breads such as
roti, naan and chapati.
- Bean flour is a flour produced from pulverized dried or ripe
- Brown rice flour is of great
importance in Southeast Asian
cuisine. Also edible rice paper can
be made from it. Most rice flour is made from white rice, thus is
essentially a pure starch, but whole-grain brown rice flour is
- Buckwheat flour is used as an
ingredient in many pancakes in the United
Japan, it is used to make a popular noodle called
Soba. In Russia, buckwheat
flour is added to the batter for pancakes called blinis which are frequently eaten with caviar. Buckwheat flour is also used to make
crêpes bretonnes in Brittany. On Hindu fasting days (Navaratri mainly,
also Maha Shivaratri), people eat items made of buckwheat flour.
The preparation varies across India. The famous ones are Kuttu Ki
Puri and Kuttu Pakoras. In most of northern and western states they
call this Kuttu ka atta.
- Chestnut flour
is popular in Corsica, the
Périgord and Lunigiana for breads,
cakes and pastas.
It is the original ingredient for "polenta", still used as such in Corsica
and other Mediterranean locations. Chestnut bread keeps fresh for
as long as two weeks. In other parts of Italy it is mainly
used for desserts.
- Chickpea flour (also
known as gram flour or besan) is of great
importance in Indian cuisine, and in
Italy, where it is used for the Ligurian farinata.
- Chuño flour made from dried potatoes
in various countries of South America
- Corn (maize) flour is
popular in the Southern and
Southwestern US, Mexico, South America, and Punjab regions of India (In India it
called as Besan) and Pakistan.
Coarse whole-grain corn flour is usually called corn meal. Corn meal that has been bleached with
lye is called masa harina (see masa)
and is used to make tortillas and tamales in Mexican cooking. Corn
flour should never be confused with cornstarch, which is known as "cornflour" in
British English. In India and Pakistan it is mixed with Spice and
the paste is deep fried to make 'Pakoroas'.
- Cornstarch is just the "refined form" of Cornflour.
- Glutinous rice flour or sticky
rice flour, used in east and southeast Asian cuisines for making
- Noodle flour is special blend of flour
used for the making of Asian style noodles. The flour could be from
wheat or rice.
- Nut flours are grated from oily nuts—most commonly almonds and hazelnuts—and are
used instead of or in addition to wheat flour to produce more dry
and flavourful pastries and cakes. Cakes made with nut flours are usually
called tortes and most originated in Central
Europe, in countries such as Hungary and Austria.
- Peasemeal or pea flour is a
flour produced from roasted and pulverized yellow field peas.
- Peanut Flour made from
shelled/cooked peanuts is a higher protein alternative to using
- Potato starch flour is obtained by
grinding the tubers to a pulp and removing the fibre by
water-washings. The dried product consists chiefly of starch, but
also contains some protein. Potato starch flour is used as a
thickening agent. When heated to boiling, food added with a
suspension of potato flour in water thickens quickly. Because the
flour is made from neither grain nor legume, it is used as
substitute for wheat flour in cooking by Jews
during Passover, when grains are not eaten.
Often confused with Potato flour a peeled,
cooked potato dried and grinded potato flakes. Potato flour is cold
water soluble, dehydraded potato.
- Rice flour is ground kernels of rice.
It is used in Western countries and especially for people who
suffer from gluten intolerance,
since rice does not contain gluten.
- Rye flour is used to bake
the traditional sourdough breads of
Poland, Germany and Scandinavia. Most rye breads use a mix of
rye and wheat flours because rye does not produce a sufficient
amount of gluten. Pumpernickel bread is
usually made exclusively of rye, and contains a mixture of rye
flour and rye meal.
- Tapioca flour, produced from the root of
the cassava plant, is used to make breads,
pancakes, tapioca pudding, a savoury
porridge called fufu in Africa, and is used as
- Teff flour is made from the grain teff, and
is of considerable importance in eastern Africa (particularly
around the horn of Africa). Notably, it is the chief ingredient in
the bread injera, an important component of
Flour can also be made from soy
non-cereal foodstuffs. In Australia, a variety of other seeds are
also used to make flour for bread, these include: Acacia aneura
(mulga), Acacia cowleana
, Acacia estrophiolata
(wakalpulka), Acacia kempeana
(Witchetty bush), Acacia coriacea
(Wiry wattle), Panicum
spp. (eg Panicum australiense
, Panicum decompositum
, Panicum effusum
), Astrelba pectinata
, Portulaca intraterranea
, Oryza sativa
, Marsilea drummondii
(Nardoo), Atriplex nummularia
(Old man saltbush),
, Acacia pyrifolia
, Acacia tetragonophylla
, Acacia victoriae
, Acacia sophorae
, Acacia stenophylla
, Acacia tumida
, Aleurites moluccana
, Amaranthus mitchellii
, Amaranthus grandiflorus
, Brachiaria piligera
, Brachiaria milliformis
, Brachychiton diversifolium
, Calandrinia balonensis
, Canarium australianum
, Canavalia maritima
, Entada phaseolides
, Eragrostris eriopoda
, Eucalyptus microtheca
, Nymphae gigantea
, Rhyncharrhena linearis
, Themeda australis
Flour type numbers
In some markets, the different available flour varieties are
labeled according to the ash mass ("mineral content") that remains
after a sample was incinerated in a laboratory oven (typically at
550 °C or 900 °C, see international standards ISO
). This is an easily verified indicator for the
fraction of the whole grain that ended up in the flour, because the
mineral content of the starchy endosperm is much lower than that of
the outer parts of the grain. Flour made from all parts of the
grain (extraction rate: 100%) leaves about 2 g ash or more per
100 g dry flour. Plain white flour (extraction rate: 50–60%) leaves
only about 0.4 g.
- German flour type numbers (Mehltype)
indicate the amount of ash (measured in milligrams) obtained from
100 g of the dry mass of this flour. Standard wheat flours (defined
in DIN 10355) range from type 405 for normal
white wheat flour for baking, to strong bread flour types 550, 650,
812, and the darker types 1050 and 1600 for wholegrain breads.
- French flour type numbers (type de
farine) are a factor 10 smaller than those used in Germany,
because they indicate the ash content (in milligrams) per 10 g
flour. Type 55 is the standard, hard-wheat white flour for baking,
including puff pastries ("pâte feuilletée"). Type 45 is often
called pastry flour, but is generally from a softer wheat. Types
65, 80, and 110 are strong bread flours of increasing darkness, and
type 150 is a wholemeal flour.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, no numbered
standardized flour types are defined, and the ash mass is only
rarely given on the label by flour manufacturers. However, the
legally required standard nutrition label specifies the protein
content of the flour, which is also a suitable way for comparing
the extraction rates of different available flour types.
It is possible to find out ash content from some US manufacturers.
However, US measurements are based on wheat with a 14% moisture
content. Thus, a US flour with .48 ash would approximate a French
Type 55. For US bakers of French pastry seeking an equivalent, for
example, they could look at tables published by King Arthur Flour
, showing their
all-purpose flour is a close equivalent to French Type 55.
In general, as the extraction rate of the flour increases, so do
both the protein and the ash content. However, as the extraction
rate approaches 100% (whole meal), the protein content drops
slightly, while the ash content continues to rise.
The following table shows some typical examples of how protein and
ash content relate to each other in wheat flour:
||Wheat flour type
||high gluten flour
||first clear flour
||white whole wheat
This table is only a rough guideline for converting bread recipes.
Since flour types are not standardized in many countries, the
numbers may differ between manufacturers.
Milling of flour
is accomplished by
grinding grain between stones
wheels. Today, "stone-ground" usually means that the grain has been
ground in a mill in which a revolving stone wheel turns over a
stationary stone wheel, vertically or horizontally with the grain
in between. Many small appliance mills are available, both
hand-cranked and electric. The mill stones frequently rub against
each other resulting in small stone particles chipping off and
getting into flour. The safety aspect of this has not been checked
but research into the dentition of medieval skeletons indicates
that this form of milling leads to excessive wear on teeth. Steel
roller mills do not have this problem.
Flour dust suspended in air is explosive, as is any mixture of a
finely powdered flammable substance with air, see Flour Bomb
. In medieval flour mills, candles,
lamps, or other sources of fire were forbidden. Some devastating and
fatal explosions have occurred at flour mills, including an
explosion in 1878 at the Washburn "A" Mill
in Minneapolis, the largest flour mill in the United States at the
, many cakes
many other foods are made using flour. Wheat flour is also used to
make a roux
as a base for gravy
. White wheat
flour is the traditional base for wallpaper
paste.It is also the base for papier-mâché
is a principal ingredient of
- Goldkeim - Association to promote vital flour
- The Grocer's Encyclopedia - Encyclopedia of
Foods and Beverages. By Artemas Ward. New York. 1911.