If Carlsberg Did Fashion

Wheat and Milling History

The discovery that grain could be ground to make a mixture called meal must have been extremely important because raw wheat is not particularly nice to eat. This mixture was so coarse it had an appalling effect on everyone’s teeth. For a long time, meal was used to make only porridge or gruel until the technique of bakingWheat was discovered. Then, as now, the object of the baking was to convert flour into an enjoyable, ready to eat foodstuff.

Very early in history it must have been discovered that a more edible product could be made by separating the ground meal into coarse bran particles and white flour. The advent of weaving made this process possible. Sieves or baskets were made using horse hair or papyrus. Later, Ancient Romans ground and sifted the flour through linen, twice.

This was an expensive procedure that only the aristocracy could afford. The whiter flour obtained was called “pollen” meaning a fine powder. The very best grade they called “flos” a word for a flower, being the best part of a plant. So our words “flour” and “flower” originally were the same.

It is thought that the Romans were the first to have started a milling industry using animals or teams of slaves to drive the wheels to grind the wheat. Before this, grinding of meal had mostly been carried out in the home using a device called a hand-quern. The hand-quern consisted of two round flat stones, one above the other. The upper stone was turned by a wooden handle, wheat was trickled in through a hole in the centre, and meal came out around the edge.

Gradual developments in milling techniques, especially the introduction of the rotary mill around 1000BC, meant improvements in flour for baking. Eventually in the 11th Century watermills and windmills enabled real progress.

Most of the common machines, such as the roller mill, were developed by the 1900s and are still in use in present-day mills.


To produce a white bread, a whitener such as alum, or mashed cooked potatoes was added to the mixture. In fact, the desire to have really white bread was so great that ground-up dried bones, chalk or poisonous white lead was added to the brown flour. Thank goodness those practices don’t go om today.



Bleaching and Bromating

Freshly ground wheat might smell great, but it doesn’t make an optimum loaf: as flour ages, it creates stronger gluten, resulting in a more elastic dough and a lighter loaf. Aging also changes the color of flour from pale yellow to white. Millers have sped up this aging process with chlorine and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) , which also helps the flour look whiter.

Flour types for the home baker. Nice reference booklet.

The Two Types of Wheat

There are two types of wheat: hard and soft. The difference is in the protein content. Hard wheat is higher in protein than soft wheat–and it is the protein that contains the gluten that allows breads and other baked goods to rise. Where wheat is grown can determine protein content.

All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour includes a balance of hard and soft flours.

Bread Flour

One type of flour is best for baking bread, another type for pastries. Bread benefits from a high-protein flour. When combined with water and mixed and kneading, the gluten becomes elastic and stretches around gas bubbles produced by the yeast.

Of all the grains, wheat is the only one that has gluten-producing proteins. To rise properly, breads made with other grains (like rye, corn, or oats) must be fortified with wheat flour or gluten.

Pastry Flour

Pastry flour is a medium-protein flour that produces pie crusts. A flour with too much protein will make the pastry tough; too little, and the pastry can be brittle and hard to work with. Medium is just right. You can make your own version of pastry flour by combining one part cornstarch to two parts all-purpose flour.

Cake Flour

Cake flour is a lower-protein flour that’s also bleached with chorine, which alters the structure of the starches and fats and makes the flour slightly acidic. Unfortunately, substituting all-purpose flour in recipes that have been specifically formulated for cake flour will not work. Always sift cake flour before using it in a recipe.

Note: You might need to adjust your liquids to hydrate the flour fully (use more water if you’re adding whole wheat flour to a recipe, less if you’re substituting bread flour for whole wheat).

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole wheat flour contains all of the nutrients found in the wheat kernel and results in dense, hearty baked goods. If 100% whole wheat bread tastes a little bit too healthy for you, try a ratio of half whole wheat to half bread flour.

Self-Raising Flour

Used for quick breads, biscuits, muffins, and pancakes. It contains baking powder, so doesn’t need any leavening agent added.

To make your own self-raising flour, add 1½ tsp baking powder per cup of flour (5-7 g of baking powder per 100 g of flour).


The Wheat berry

All grains start life as whole grains. In their natural state growing in the fields, whole grains are the entire seed of a plant. This seed is referred to as a ‘kerne’ and it is made up of three edible parts; bran, germ, and the endosperm. The grain is protected from sunlight, pests, water, and disease by an inedible husk.

The bran is the hard multi-layered outer shell that covers the kernel also known as the wheat berry. It contains most of the minerals, B vitamins, important antioxidants and is a great source of fiber. Because the bran has sharp edges which interfere with gluten development, it is removed during milling and then often added back in later.

The germ is the part of the grain that is an embryo with the potential to become the plant . Wheat germ is very high in protein, B vitamins and healthy fats. The germ is removed in the milling process because its high fat content causes the flour to become rancid more quickly, consequently, wheat germ should be stored in the refrigerator.

The endosperm is the food that the seed consumes to become a plant. It provides essential energy so that it can send roots down for water and nutrients, and send sprouts up for sunlight for photosynthesis. The endosperm is by far the largest portion of the kernel. It contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. The flour that we use for baking, unless it is whole wheat, has had the germ and the bran removed.


The wheat plant is a type of grass which develops over the course of a year, maturing in the summer ready for grain harvesting in late January and February. Some wheats are planted in the autumn and require a period of cold before they will form grain in late spring. Others are planted in the spring and require no cold for normal growth and grain development.

Wheat plants grow several side shoots called tillers from a crown which is just below ground level. Each of these tillers grows a long stem which bears a flowering head at its top. The length of these tillers varies greatly between different wheats, some being extremely short (less than 20cm) while other are extremely tall (over 1m!). Modern wheats are generally 80cm to 1m tall.

The wheat flowers are self-fertilised by the movement of pollen from the male part of the wheat flower (stamen) to the female part (the stigma). Each flowering head fertilises its own flower. Once this has occurred the grain begins to grow and develop.

Starch and protein are stored in the grain and used as an energy source by the new plant. The grain reaches its maximum size a month after fertilisation – this is usually in mid summer. Once the grain is fully developed the wheat plant begins to die and the grain slowly dries out. It is at this stage that harvesting interrupts the growing cycle of the wheat plant, as once the grain is dry enough, the wheat is harvested.

The grain is harvested by a machine (called a combine harvester) which cuts the whole plant and separates out the grain. Grain can be stored in bulk bins if the amount of moisture in the grain is kept low.


Nutritional properties in flour

The B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin, are essential nutrients that cannot be made by our bodies in sufficient amounts for our needs. They need to be supplied by our diet and must be consumed regularly as they are not stored in our bodies.

The main function of thiamin is to break down carbohydrates into sugars to produce energy. Riboflavin is necessary for the production of energy in the body and niacin is essential for making use of the energy produced in all cells.

Calcium is an essential mineral for bone production and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. New Zealander’s are actively encouraged to maintain a reasonable level of calcium intake throughout life. Iron is also an essential mineral required in our bodies. It assists with the transport of oxygen to the cells where it is used. It is part of a pigment called haemoglobin in the red blood cells. Potassium is contained inside the cells of our bodies. It enables cells to have the correct fluid mixture they need to work properly.

Dietary fibre is a mixture of many different components that give a rigid structure to plant cell walls. It helps food pass through our digestion system more easily and has been shown to reduce the effects of some common ailments such as constipation and other similar problems.

Nutrient content is affected by extraction rate (the amount of flour removed from the grain). White flour (usually extracted so that 78% of the grain remains in the flour) contains a lower proportion of some nutrients than 100% extraction rate wholemeal flour. The difference between wholemeal flour and white flour is that the bran and germ layers are removed during white flour milling. Wheat germ is a very good source of B vitamins and extremely rich in iron, zinc, manganese and copper. It is also the richest plant source of vitamin E.

Pure wheat bran is the richest known source of dietary fibre and contains minerals (such as manganese and iron) and vitamins (niacin, vitamin B6).

When you compare white flour and wholemeal flour in the table you will see that wholemeal flour contains on average 3.6 times the quantity of fibre contained in white flour. However, white flour is still a good general source of dietary fibre, and is also an excellent source of other essential nutrients, including carbohydrates, amino acids, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulphur, zinc, selenium and lipids.

All flour is nutritions so no matter which type you use it will contribute towards a healthy diet.


From Head to Toe

A diet high in flours made from wheat or other grains affects every system in the body. Here’s a quick guide to flour’s far reaching effects.

1. Brain: The proteins in wheat directly affect the brain. Able to cross the blood brain barrier, wheat-derived substances attach to the brain’s opiate receptors and trigger appetite and cravings.

2. Blood: Levels of sugar in the blood spike within a few short minutes of eating foods made with flour. The chains of simple sugars, especially those in wheat, cause a greater spike in blood sugar than virtually any other food, including table sugar.

3. Pancreas: The pancreas has to crank out a lot more insulin to metabolise the glucose in flour-rich foods, which can set the body up for insulin resistance, diabetes and bodywide inflammation.

EXPERIENCE LIFE/ July/August 2012

4. Waistline: Over weeks and months, the yo-yo effect of rising and falling blood sugar and insulin levels increases the body’s fat storage around the abdomen. Called visceral fat, this extra padding is hormonally active, churning out a disruptive array of inflammatory signals and even sex hormones, such as estrogen.

5. Gut: The cells that line the walls of your intestines form a tightly woven barrier. But a protein called zonulin can create chinks in the body’s intestinal armour, allowing particles of food to pass through the gut’s lining undigested. Wheat contains a protein called gliadin that causes excess production of zonulin. As a result, the body’s immune system goes into chronic overdrive. Food allergies and sensitivities (with an array of attendant digestive and skin conditions) may develop as a result of gut inflammation.

6. Colon: Over time, the blood-sugar highs and lows that result from a flour- rich diet can damage nerve cells that drive gut motility. Eventually, transit time slows and traffic backs up.

Grains and bread

A few reasons why whole grains and bread are good for you

Grain-based foods, especially whole grain foods, are rich in complex carbohydrates and are a good source of fiber and valuable antioxidants. Below find information on why carbohydrates are so important for good health.

Grain fiber is more health-enhancing than fiber from other sources
In a 2011 study, researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that fiber from grains—not other sources—significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases in both men and women.

Whole grains provide significant health benefits
Whole grains play an important role in lowering the risk of chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, according to a 2011 report by The American Society for Nutrition. Whole grains also contribute to weight management and gastrointestinal health. The essential nutrients in whole grains work together with phytonutrients to create significant health benefits.

Eating whole grains can help reduce blood pressure
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that 3 servings of whole grain foods a day can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, mainly by lowering blood pressure. In a separate study, researchers at the University of Surry in England found that adults who consumed two whole grain rolls (48 grams of whole wheat) a day had decreased systolic blood pressure.

Whole grains are linked to lower body fat

After analyzing data from the Framingham Heart Study, researchers at Tufts University found that people who consumed at least 3 whole grain servings per day had less fat under their skin and around their organs (which has been linked to higher risk for diabetes and heart disease).

Breads are enriched and fortified with many important nutrients
Many varieties of bread are enriched with iron and B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin and riboflavin. Enrichment has helped to nearly eliminate nutrition-related diseases, such as beriberi, pellagra, and severe nutritional anemia. Many breads also are fortified with folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects (NTDs) in pregnancies. In a 2010 study, experts found that mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid has successfully reduced the prevalence of NTDs.

Get heart healthy—Eat whole grain breads

By Dr. Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LD/N

High cholesterol in the blood is a major risk factor for heart disease. But that risk can be significantly reduced by simple changes in the diet that have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. One such change is enjoying more foods that contain no cholesterol, such as bread. Both whole grain and refined grain breads have no cholesterol!* So enjoy 3 to 6 servings of bread and other grain foods to help lower cholesterol, improve health, and avoid heart disease.

* Bakery breads and sweet breads made with whole milk, butter, and eggs will contain cholesterol, so be sure to read the package.

Bread: A Staple Food or a Health Hazard?

By lovefitnesseducation.co.uk
30 May 2013

‘Bread’ is without doubt the most symbolic of words across continents and cultures. A staple food and an inseparable part of mainstream diet, bread has come to symbolise wellbeing, emotional security and a feeling of camaraderie that comes from sharing meals or to put it better – “breaking bread” together. It is impossible to imagine a meal without this basic accompaniment. Could such a staple food be anything but healthy? As with most debates, there are two sides to the coin so let’s explore the pros and cons deeper before arriving at a decisive conclusion.

Arguments in favour of bread emphasise the fact that it is a major source of carbohydrates and thus most cannot afford to eliminate bread from their daily diet. Many proffer it as a good source of vitamins like the water soluble Vitamin B which cannot be stored in the body. It also contains resistant starch that is digested slowly and keeps the body feeling full for longer. Some advocates go as far as to say that omitting bread from the diet could lead to nutritional imbalances and have adverse consequences on our health. Mainstream thinking promote it as a staple food and suggest there is no reason why that should change.

The case against bread

• The case against bread • Bread has a whole lot of sugar added which takes away from any other benefit it may provide. It also contains a substance called phytic acid which interferes with the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc and calcium.

• Most breads contain pulverised wheat that is easily digested by the body, causing a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a sudden crash. This plays havoc with the body’s metabolism process and triggers hunger that leads to even further overeating.

• Most of the breads we buy from supermarkets have extra yeast added to them in order to prolong shelf life which irritates the digestive system, leading to digestive disorders.

• Mucus forming: As bread belongs to the family of foods made from refined grain, it stimulates the production of mucus in the body. Although mucus protects the cells from the phytic acid found in bread, too much of it leads to congestion in the lungs and nasal passages.

• Difficult to digest: Gluten – the protein found in wheat and other grains makes bread difficult to digest and could lead to pain, fatigue, allergies and lowered immunity in individuals with sensitivity to gluten.

• Too much consumption of bread: The fact that bread puts a strain on the digestive process and has a higher glycaemic index indicates that it should be consumed only in reasonable quantities. But most usually eat far too much of it and include it in almost every meal which may spell trouble for the digestive system.

• Addictive: Like many other foods loaded with salt and sugar, bread too induces the secretion of the feel good hormones that in turn triggers a sense of euphoria, making the body crave for more of it. Gradually, the body requires more and more of these foods to be able to produce the same euphoric effect, bringing on addiction and consequently an imbalance in dietary habits.

Resolving the conflict

Going cold turkey

Cutting bread from your diet completely can be a difficult task for many due to the convenience factor of having it ready and waiting when needed but if you can manage it then you will notice the benefits almost immediately. Having worked with 100′s of clients, athletes, friends and family over the last 10 years looking to lose weight and improve lifestyle and health – virtually 100% have reported back that removing bread from their diet produced noticeable improvements in the energy levels, mood and body composition, irrespective of whether they had increased their exercise levels or not. For weight loss in particular, ditching the bread had the highest impact on fat stored around the abdomen area which is often where most are looking to lose it.

If you must

For those who cannot bear the thought of eliminating bread from their diet, a healthier option would be bread having a lower glycaemic index as it not only maintains stable blood sugar levels in the body but are also rich in fibre and other nutrients as well. Look for the GI rating and fibre content mentioned on the packet before buying the bread. Whole grain breads and those made from rye and buckwheat flour are more nutrient dense and usually have a lower GI.

So while it is impractical for some to decide to cut bread altogether from the diet, you can still make sure that you do not compromise on your health simply by making the right choice of bread. It’s only a matter of being well informed about how to use this staple food judiciously so that it continues to symbolise nourishment, contentment and well-being.