Before wheat berries are ground into flour, they can be considered a live food. If they are exposed to moisture, they will sprout and germinate. When they are ground into flour, they immediately begin to oxidize. And just like your coffee beans, the flour will taste better when it is freshly ground. Oxidation also affects the vitamin and nutrient levels in the flour. Most of the vitamins and nutrients are contained in the wheat germ. There is also Vitamin E oil in the wheat germ. Over time, the Vitamin E oil eventually will go rancid in whole wheat flours. If you have ever had whole wheat flour that tastes bitter, it is likely it’s been sitting on the shelf too long. This is one of the reasons that white flour became so popular for mass production – it has the germ removed for shelf stability, but removing the germ also removes the vitamins and nutrients from the flour. White flour also has the bran removed, which contains fiber and helps with digestion. All of this processing means that white flour barely resembles the original whole wheat flour made directly from wheat berries.
Source for image: http://wbc.agr.mt.gov/wbc/Consumer/Diagram_kernel/
I can go on and on about the flour. But really, in the end, you should decide for yourself. Here’s some ideas to start:
- Do some research on processed flour. While it can be hard to find clear, non-biased articles, try this one on WebMD as a start and then try googling processed flour. You’ll find that flour is one of the most processed foods in our grocery stores.
- Take one of my classes or find a local class on whole grain baking. You’ll learn something new and get lots of samples. Try this link through Bosch Kitchen Centers to locate other demonstrators who teach milling and whole grains.
- Bake your favorite recipe using freshly milled whole grain flour and see if you don’t love it.