When I would find myslef lost in the bread isle I would usually end up grabbing what ever bread was on sale because I didn't know what the difference was between the 99 cent loaf of white or wheat bread and the $5 loaf of "whole grain" bread.
Once I started learning to read the labels I found all kinds of additives, sweeteners, preservatives and other stuff that I really don't want to be eating or feeding to my family. So I took on the task of learning to bake my own.
And when it came to making my own bread I started by choosing whatever recipe sounded the tastiest and easiest. I LOVE sweet white rolls, but I know that wheat bread is supposed to be healthier, right?
Yes, but why?
White flour comes from wheat, right?
So why have we been warned about eating white flour?
White flour is significantly different than freshly ground wheat flour. It has been processed and bleached, which is why it is white and not brown. Most of the nutritional value and fiber was sapped away in the processing. In fact, so much of the nutrition is missing that their are government regulations that require a minimal amount of the nutrients Thiamin, Niacin, B1, B2, Folic Acid, and Iron to be added back into the flour!
If you want to learn more about what happens to our flour when it is processed, here is a very informative website.
Here is freshly ground wheat flour (made from white wheat):
And compare that lovely flour to the all-purpouse baking flour we buy at the store:
If wheat flour is so much more healthy, why does everyone use white flour?
Shelf Life. Wheat flour contains oils that go rancid over a short period of time. These oils are removed from white flour when the wheat bran and wheat germ are removed, which makes the flour last much much longer. This is why it is so popular for commercial baking. White flour can be bought in bulk and stored for long periods of time.
Even many of the "wheat" breads we buy at the store are made from white flour mixed with just enough wheat flour to make the bread look brown. Some bread makers even add caramel coloring! Seriously!
To read more about the great stuff found in fresh wheat flour, check out this website.
I have seen wheat flour sold at the grocery store. Is it as healthy as freshly ground wheat flour?
Not quite. Often times much of the oils are removed from the wheat flour found in stores to prolong the shelf life. And if you do find 100% freshly ground wheat flour available to in your store you still can't be sure how long it has been sitting. The longer it sits, the more nutrition it loses. I highly recommend buying the wheat flour over white flour but if you have the choice, go fresh!
How can I get freshly ground flour at home?
There are many types of grain mills available. Some are electric and some are hand crank powered.
I don't have my own yet but I am borrowing my MIL's electric mill. I just have to turn it on, pour in the wheat, and in about a minute I have beautiful, fragrant, wheat flour. If you are in the market for a grinder, do some research to find out which is best for your needs. Ebay also has a lot of options for great prices.
Or, you can ask your friends and family if they have one you can borrow.
Here's the mill I'm using:
It's called the Whisper Mill.
What can I do whith my fresh wheat flour?
Wherever you use white flour, you can substitute your wheat flour. I use it mostly for pancakes, muffins, pizza crust, and breads. I am AMAZED at the difference in taste! My kids absolutely love the whole wheat bread. And I feel like a good mom because I know they are getting more nutrition and fiber from the "real" bread.
And if you aren't a pro bread maker, don't worry! There are tons of places out there that can give you tips on how to make your bread the right way. I use a bread machine to mix my dough. I got my brand new machine for $3.00 at Salvation Army. Best purchase ever!
mmmmm. You will never want to go back to plain ol' white bread again.