The right kind of flour can make or break your bake, and savvy bakers understand that knowing your particular flour is crucial. But have you ever considered the differences between organic flour and conventional flour?
Importance of Choice of Flour in Baking
Baking is not just a simple science of mixing certain ingredients together. It is also about understanding how these ingredients work in harmony to create the perfect final product. One of the most essential, and often overlooked, aspects of baking is the choice of flour. It’s important to understand the role that flour plays in baking, as it directly affects the structure, texture, and taste. The type of flour you choose can depend on the recipe, the desired end product, and even the humidity in your kitchen.
Organic Flour vs. Conventional Flour
But what about the difference between organic and conventional flour? As far as prioritising our organic purchases, simple store-cupboard ingredients can often end up at the end of the list. But should we pay more attention to the provenance of the flour we use?
Let’s start with conventional flour. This is the most commonly used flour in baking. It is made by milling intensively farmed wheat and then treating it with various chemicals to improve its texture, colour, and shelf life.
On the other hand, organic flour is milled from wheat that has been grown organically without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.
Of course, flour is not limited to just wheat, but as the most widely used grain for flour, and also the most intensively produced, this discussion refers mostly to wheat. The whole concept of choosing organic flour over conventional flour does however apply to most types of flour, particularly grain flour.
What is Organic Flour?
Organic flour is made from organically grown wheat that was grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Organic farming also forbids the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and prioritises holistic methods for soil health and crop rotation in order to maintain a balanced ecosystem. The result is a product that is not only free from harmful chemicals but may also have a higher nutritional value due to the nutrient-rich soil in which it was cultivated.
How Organic Flour is Made and Sourced
Organic flour is sourced only from farmers who use organic farming methods. Typically, organic wheat is harvested and then milled using traditional methods that avoid any harsh chemicals or additives and help to retain the nutrients and flavour of the wheat. The resulting flour is unbleached and contains no additives or chemical preservatives.
This is in direct contrast with commercially grown wheat which has been grown using chemical fertilisers, sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, and may have begun life as genetically modified seeds. Conventional wheat is milled using an intensive industrial process that strips the flour of its natural nutrients and flavour. Conventional flour may also have added enzymes and preservatives that extend its shelf life and make it whiter.
The Environmental Impact of Modern Wheat
Modern wheat cultivation has been extensively mechanized, with large machines used to plant and harvest wheat at scale. Not only does this process require vast amounts of fossil fuels, but modern agricultural practices often lead to soil erosion and degraded soil health, which has a profound impact on biodiversity and ecosystem balance. Overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in wheat farming has led to pollution of our water supply and contributes to our toxic load.
Conversely, organic farming methods reduce these environmental impacts by avoiding the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which can have a positive effect on soil health and reduce water contamination from runoff. Organic farming also promotes biodiversity through crop rotation, conservation tillage and cover crops.
Does Organic Flour Taste Different?
It can do. Organic flour has not been chemically whitened but it has also been allowed to age naturally. This natural ageing process allows the flavours in the wheat to slowly mature; unlike the chemically enhanced ageing of conventional wheat. Interestingly, the substance used to speed up the ageing of wheat can leave wheat flour with a bitter aftertaste, and none of the rounded sweetness of a good quality organic flour.
Is Organic Flour Healthy?
Milled from pesticide-free grain, in soil fertilised with only natural substances, organic flour may have absorbed more nutrients from the soil than its conventional cousins.
Made from wheat that is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, organic flour is free from any harmful residues that may be left behind on conventionally grown wheat. Many organic flours are less refined, leaving behind more of the whole grain, which contains the good stuff. However, let’s be clear that just because something is labelled “organic” doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthier.
But does any of this translate into better results for your baking? Beyond the environmental benefits of choosing organic, and the knowledge that you are in greater control of what you put into the food you make, buying organic should (but sadly not always does) mean buying better quality. And better quality ingredients will always make better food.
Why not try our organic wholemeal stoneground flour?
For a classic sourdough you can’t beat organic rye flour. Did you know that organic flour is recommended for making sourdough as it is abundant in wild yeasts?
Or try the unique taste of this organic buckwheat flour.
We have several more organic flours to explore in our wide range of wholesale organic products.
This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers”.
See original article:- Baking Better: The Benefits of Organic Flour over Conventional Flour