Wheat flour

For many years, the data of official science indicated that the first flour on the planet appeared during the Neolithic period. All this time, scientists assumed that the first to make flour were the ancient people who inhabited the lands of the Middle East. But in 2015, these data had to be revised. Archaeologists representing the Italian Institute of Prehistoric and Early History have made a startling discovery. According to them, the first flour on Earth appeared much earlier. Italian researchers claim to have found evidence of the existence of this product already in the Paleolithic period, which is almost 30 thousand years ago. And scientists found traces of the most ancient flour on the planet in the Tuscan village of Bilancino. True, that very first flour was not at all like the modern one. Yes, and it was made by people of the Stone Age from the marsh plant cattail.

Who came up with the idea of ​​grinding wheat

But no matter how happy the Italians were with their discovery, the primacy of creating flour from cereal crops still remains with the East and the Neolithic period. Archaeologists suggest that ancient people began to domesticate wild wheat as early as 11 thousand years ago. And it must have been at this time that powdered grains were already an important product on the menu of ancient people.

fine powder. Interestingly, in ancient times, both in Egypt and in the territory of modern Russia, approximately the same stone mortars were used to make flour. Over time, the first large mills appeared. By the way, the first automatic water mill appeared only at the end of the 18th century. It was invented by American Oliver Evans. And the first steam mill in Russia was built at the beginning of the 19th century in the village of Vorotyntsevo. By the way, it was one of the very first mills of this type in the world. Before the Russian steam mill, only London appeared.

But back to wheat flour. Even in those ancient times, when wheat grains were crushed with stones, the first bread was already prepared from them. Although it was very different from our usual bread. They were unleavened cakes made from flour and water baked over a fire. But it was the very first wheat bread on the planet.

What varieties and varieties are there

Wheat flour is wheat grains ground to a powder state, used in cooking for making dough and other dishes.

The type of flour depends on the type of grain (or other raw material) used to make the product. Thus, in addition to wheat, there are rye flour, buckwheat, oatmeal amaranth, corn, almond, hemp, chickpea, spelled and even from the fruits of some berries.

Depending on the intended purpose, wheat flour can be of two types:

  • baking flour;
  • pasta.

A bakery is made from soft cereals. For pasta, as a rule, grains of hard varieties of cereals are used.

As for the varieties of the product, according to the traditional classification, there are five of them:

  • grains;
  • premium;
  • first grade;
  • second grade;
  • wallpaper.

In addition to the five classic varieties, there are some others, which will also be discussed below. But we must immediately make a reservation that in the case of wheat flour, the traditional classification by grade does not indicate the quality of the product. That is, one cannot say that the product of the highest grade is good, and the second grade is poor-quality flour. The classification is based on another indicator: how much powder is obtained from 100 kg of a particular grain. The higher the yield percentage, the lower the grade of the product.

Semolina

This product is made from vitreous wheat. The dough, kneaded from such flour, is prone to swelling. Cooks most often use grits for pies baked in molds and for shortcrust pastry.

Top grade (baking)

This variety is made exclusively from durum wheat. Compared to other varieties, it contains little fiber, fats and minerals, but it contains more gluten (up to 14%). In addition, it contains ascorbic acid, and this substance affects the texture of pastries and increases the volume of the dough. This variety is considered the best for yeast dough and cakes.

First grade (universal)

This is exactly the flour that many of us use for baking and preparing various flour dishes. It contains about 8-11% gluten (gluten). It is a mixture of hard and soft wheat flour. As a rule, it is darker than the premium product, but it is commercially available both unbleached and lighter - chemically bleached. From unbleached it is good to cook yeast bread, muffins, puff or choux pastry, puddings, strudel. Bleached is suitable for baking pies, various cookies, pancakes, waffles.

Second grade (for baking)

It is distinguished by a low content of gluten (up to 10%) and a high percentage of starch. It is made from soft varieties of wheat, darker than the previous varieties. Flour of the second grade is pleasant to the touch and during the bleaching process the product is enriched with ascorbic acid, which contributes to better growth of yeast dough. The special composition of flour improves the consistency of the finished dough, promotes a uniform distribution of fats. This variety is better than others for a very sweet dough that retains a fluffy texture when baked and does not fall off. The product of the second grade should be chosen for the preparation of yeast-free and ordinary bread, lush pies, cookies, gingerbread.

By the way, if you plan to bake rich dough, but you don’t have second-grade flour, then universal flour is quite suitable. But in this case, it is important to slightly adjust the proportions: from each glass of flour indicated in the recipe, you will have to remove 2 tablespoons.

Whole grain (peeled, coarsely ground)

Compared to the now popular whole grain, it is coarser, as it is usually made from the outer shells of grain. According to its mineral and vitamin composition, it is a very useful product, although in its pure form it is almost not suitable for kneading dough.

And now briefly about other popular types of flour.

Whole Grain

This variety is made from whole wheat grains. Because of this, it contains a higher concentration of fiber and more nutrients than regular flour. But there is not much gluten in such a product, therefore, for most types of dough, it is mixed with bakery or universal. Inhomogeneous particles in the composition of the product are noticeable even to the eye. The amount of bran is almost 2 times higher than the product of the second grade. As a rule, it is yellowish or grayish in color. This flour quickly goes bitter, so its shelf life is short, and it is better to store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Suitable for baking honey cakes.

Gluten

It differs from others by its high content of gluten. As a rule, in such flour there is about 14% gluten. It is useful to add small portions of this product to gluten-free varieties of flour (for example, buckwheat) to give the dough a sticky consistency.

Instant flour

It is easy to recognize by its unusual shape. Instead of the traditional powder, the instant product is a specially processed granule. This flour dissolves better than other varieties in cold and hot liquids, therefore it is intended for making sauces and gravies.

For baking

This variety is made from soft wheat. It is a cross between baking flour and all-purpose flour. The amount of gluten varies between 9-10%. This type of flour is a poor choice for yeast bread. It is best used if the output should be crumbly and tender dough (for example, some types of cookies, brownies, buns and pies). However, this product is rarely seen in ordinary stores; as a rule, baking flour is sold by specialized retail chains. But it is not difficult to cook it yourself at home. To do this, it is enough to mix two varieties of more affordable ones - universal and for baking, in a ratio of two to one.

"Self-Growing"

This variety is also known as low gluten phosphated. In addition to pure milled wheat, its composition already includes salt and a special baking powder. Usually, the percentage of components, as well as the type of baking powder, may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. As a rule, the packaging of such a product indicates that it is best suited for yeast-free bread and buns. Although this does not mean that you cannot knead yeast dough from it. "Self-rising" flour at home from a glass of all-purpose, half a teaspoon of salt and one and a half teaspoons of any baking powder.

Semolina

This is the name of the flour used specifically for Italian spaghetti and other types of pasta, puddings. This product contains the highest percentage of gluten, and the flour itself is made exclusively from durum wheat. By the way, when buying this type of flour, you should pay attention to what type of grain it is made from. In addition to wheat, semolina is corn or rice.

Spelled flour

Even though spelled is a type of wheat, flour from this cereal differs markedly from the universal flour. Powdered spelled is easily recognizable by its sweet, nutty flavor, reminiscent of whole grain flour. By the way, the nutritional value of crushed spelled is much higher than that of a product made from ordinary wheat. In addition, the dough from it is easier to digest by the body. Such flour is especially useful for people with disorders of the digestive organs.

Benefits and harms of wheat flour

Wheat is one of the most commonly consumed grains in the world, and flour from it forms the basis of many dishes.

Today, scientists often argue about the benefits and harms of wheat. But if you look at the problem objectively, then for people who do not suffer from celiac disease (intolerance to gluten contained in grains), crushed cereals can bring a lot of benefits.

First, you need to understand that wheat, like all cereals, is mainly composed of carbohydrates. And in foods of plant origin, starch is the predominant type of carbohydrate. The starches contained in the wheat product (as, indeed, in white rice or potatoes ) are highly digestible and cause an increase in blood sugar. For healthy people, this only means a quick burst of energy. But for people with diabetes, spikes in blood sugar are already a problem. For this reason, wheat flour is considered not the best choice for such patients. If they already use a wheat product, then it is better to take only a whole grain or wallpaper option. Moreover, these varieties contain much more minerals, vitamins and useful fiber.

Dietary fiber is known to have a beneficial effect on the food system and support the immune system. True, the composition of powdered grains, in addition to insoluble, contains a small amount of soluble fiber, and in some people it can, on the contrary, cause indigestion.

The dry weight of wheat contains from 7 to 22% of proteins and most of them are represented by specific gluten (gluten). It is thanks to this substance that wheat flour can be kneaded into an elastic dough. But at the same time, it is this component that is the reason why people with celiac disease cannot consume flour products.

In addition to the main nutrients, flour contains many minerals and vitamins. Thanks to these components, a small amount of crushed wheat is useful for the nervous system, muscles, skin, nails and hair, maintaining the work of all internal organs. Dishes containing wheat flour are useful for stimulating mental activity, strengthening immunity, and improving overall well-being. But those suffering from diabetes, obesity, or high cholesterol should not abuse crushed grains. And people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (especially in the acute period) should not abuse products made from whole grain wheat flour.

Comparison table "Nutritional value of different types of flour (per 100 g)"
Element Top grade First grade Second grade
Calories 3334 kcal 331 kcal 324 kcal
Proteins 10.3 g 10.6 g 11.7 g
Fat .1 g 1.3 g 1.8 g
Carbohydrates 68.9 g 67.6 g 63.7 g
Fiber 2.7 g 2.7 g 10.7 g
Vitamin B1 0.17 mg 0.25 mg 0.37 mg
Vitamin B2 0.04 mg 0.08 mg 0.12 mg
Vitamin B3 1.2 mg 2.2 mg 4.55 mg
Sodium 3 mg 4 mg 6 mg
Potassium 122 mg 176 mg 251 mg
Calcium 18 mg 24 mg 32 mg
Magnesium 16 mg 44 mg 73 mg
Phosphorus 86 mg 115 mg 184 mg
Iron 1.2 mg 2.1 mg 3.9 mg

How to choose and store properly

Powdered wheat should be selected according to several criteria: color, smell and percentage of moisture. You can check the product for the presence of dyes or other third-party components by mixing a small amount of it with water. Well-dried flour, when squeezed in a fist, will give out a characteristic crunch. The product, stored at high humidity, after such manipulations will get into a lump. Wheat flour easily absorbs moisture and odors. Therefore, it is better to give preference to options in tightly closed packages, and airtight containers will protect against insects.

The same rule remains relevant when storing wheat flour at home. Ideally, a cool dry place and tightly closed containers should be chosen for this product. With constant contact with air, wheat powder can become rancid. In summer, it is better to keep the flour in the refrigerator, because the high temperature also affects the quality of the product. This is especially true of the whole grain variety, which contains a lot of natural oils. The shelf life of any flour is approximately 6 months. It is undesirable to mix a fresh product and a long-opened package. And finally, a little secret. To repel insects, a bay leaf can be placed in a container of flour ​​.

Use in cosmetology

Beauty benefits of milled wheat have been known since ancient times. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that masks based on this product improve blood flow to the skin, improve complexion, and tighten its contour. Modern cosmetologists also recommend making anti-aging masks at least twice a week, which include crushed wheat grains. For example, for dry skin, you can prepare a cosmetic mixture of chicken yolk and flour. If the product is intended for oily skin, then the yolk will have to be replaced with protein. For any skin type, masks made from flour and fruit and berry puree, lemon or aloe juice, olive oil, herbal teas or milk are suitable. In each case, a slurry (consistency of sour cream ) should be prepared, warmed up a little and applied to the skin for 15-20 minutes.

Flour masks improve complexion, increase skin elasticity, eliminate oily sheen, tone tired skin, and are also useful for removing blackheads and soothing irritations. Oily skin will benefit most from the wheat flour mask.

Wheat flour is one of the most widely consumed foods in the world, but has for many years retained its reputation as a controversial food. Although if there are no obvious contraindications to the use of wheat flour, it is very useful (especially whole grain varieties).