Bleached Flour - No Good Reason?

November 05 2006 - 11:24 AM

It seems like capitalism will cycle our baking aisle in the grocery to include more organic options. Consumers appear to be far more comfortable with less processed ingredients. Aesthetic taking a backseat to safety. Two examples are Safeway’s introduction of the Organic’s line and Frito Lay’s "Natural" line… meaning their regular line must be un-natural? I do have an unnatural urge to eat Cheetos…

There are tons of options of sugars and flours that are not bleached, are bleached in different ways, etc. I’m really not sure why are we obsessed with "white" flour. I guess in white cakes maybe though that would be cake flour, no? But bleached flour for everything? I don’t get it. There are even questions about the safety of white flour.

Fresh from the mill, flour looks yellow. Over time it turns white.
Consumers apparantly prefer it white. I’m not sure why. Maybe a baker
of two could enlighten me (pun intended).

Since flour companies don’t want to wait for natural bleaching, they add bleaching elements to it. In doing so the flour
loses most of its fiber and vitamins. They use chlorine or
benzoyl peroxide (isn’ that the treatment for acne?). They also add
aging agents like bromates which are approved by the FDA but illegal in California and much of Europe. This also
strips nutrients from the flour that must be re-added to the flour –
hence the "enriched" status. Ascorbic acid is the alternative to
bromate. It really seems silly and actually there’s a site that mentions Alloxan which is linked to diabetes.

Overall it’s a mess. I can’t tell exactly what the deal is with bleached flour. What seems to make sense is to do it yourself. You could get unbleached flour and I’d wonder if you could simply age it to turn
it white. It seems like a logical thing to do. I’d wonder if it would
change flavor or properties. I’ll let you know in a month or two.

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