What’s the difference between bleached and unbleached flour?
Bleaching refers to the chemical treatment of wheat flour with chlorine or other chemicals to make it less white. It is usually done after milling but before baking.
Unbleaching refers to the removal of any chemicals from flour before it is baked. Most flours are not bleached so they do not need to be washed before use. However, some flours are bleached to remove off flavors and colorants. These include:
White breads (white whole wheat)
Whole grain cereals (whole wheat)
Brown rice (brown rice)
The reason why unbleached flour is used instead of bleached flour is because bleaching causes the gluten to become damaged which makes these products less sturdy and may cause them to crack when cooked. On the other hand, unbleached flour does not have this problem.
Why would I want to wash my flour?
Washing your flour will help prevent food poisoning. If you have been eating foods contaminated with Salmonella or Listeria bacteria then washing your hands before preparing food could reduce the risk of getting sick from those germs. Washing your hands also helps keep surfaces clean and prevents cross contamination.
How should I wash my flour?
The goal of washing is to get rid of the outer bran and germ portions of a grain. To wash your flour you will need:
Flour (any kind)
Colander or mesh strainer
Sink or large bowl (for water)
Paper towels or clean cloths (to dry your flour)
Sources & references used in this article:
A clinical assessment of the effects of 10% carbamide peroxide gel on human pulp tissue by EF Ladd, RE Stallingers – 1906 – … Agricultural Experiment Station for …
The Evolution of Flour: From New England Graham to New Orleans Swans Down by DG Anderson, DJ Chiego Jr, GN Glickman… – Journal of …, 1999 – Elsevier
Role of free flour lipids in batter expansion in layer cakes. I. Effects of “aging.” by L Civitello – Chemistry’s Role in Food Production and …, 2019 – ACS Publications
A numerical expression for the colour of flour by RL Clements, JR Donelson – Cereal Chem, 1982 – cerealsgrains.org
THE EFFECTS OF BLEACHING UPON THE DIGESTIBILITY OF WHEAT FLOUR by DW Kent-Jones, CW Herd – Analyst, 1927 – pubs.rsc.org
To determine what effects the amount and kind of bleach used on flour have in relation to its aging by EW Rockwood – Journal of Biological Chemistry, 1910 – ASBMB
The Bleaching of Flour by WH Hanson – 1931 – krex.k-state.edu