We often come across two types of flour in the market—bleached and unbleached. And we are often confused when it comes to choosing between them. This NutriNeat article gives a comparison between bleached and unbleached flour to help you understand the differences between the two.
Did You Know?
The word ‘flour’ is derived from an English word flower and a French word fleur, which means ‘blossom’. Around 6000 BC, Romans first started crushing wheat seeds on cone mills to make flour.
Though baking seems to be quite a task, it has its sweet rewards. Flour is an important ingredient of most baked goods, like cakes, cookies, and bread. Apart from baking, flour is used in frying too.
The basic difference between bleached and unbleached flours is that the former is bleached and the latter is not. Bleaching gives the flour a finer texture and flavor, which is why the bleached version is preferred for use. Here is more on the differences between these two types of flour, to help you decide which one to choose.
|Bleached Flour||Unbleached Flour|
|Bleached flour is made from wheat grains separated from their barn and germ. The wheat is milled and has to go through a bleaching process.||Unbleached flour is made from wheat separated from its barn and germ, milled in a milling machine.|
|Bleached flour is a flour in which bleaching chemicals such as organic peroxides, nitrogen dioxide, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, or azodicarbonmide are added. These bleaching agents oxidize the surface of flour grains, making the flour stark white in appearance.||Unbleached flour ages naturally. In the process, its color dulls and turns yellowish.|
|Due to the bleaching agents present, bleached flour softens and gets ready to use sooner than the unbleached one.||Unbleached flour takes more time to soften, as compared to the bleached one.|
|Bleached flour has a finer quality of grain, which makes a baked good lighter. It shows more volume.||Unbleached flour has coarse grains, which makes a baked good denser. It does not show more volume.|
|Bleached flour has a slight bitter aftertaste to it.||Unbleached floor does not have a bitter aftertaste.|
|Bleached flour absorbs moisture quickly.||Unbleached flour does not absorb moisture as quickly as bleached flour.|
|One cup of bleached flour contains 0.1 mg Vitamin E, which is lesser than that in unbleached flour. The other nutritional information is given as: calories (455), fats (1 g), fiber (3 g), proteins (13 g), sodium (2 mg), carbohydrates (95 g), calcium (2% of RDI), iron (32% RDI), and trans fat (1% of RDI) are the same as in unbleached flour.||One cup of unbleached flour contains 0.3 mg Vitamin E, which is higher than that in bleached flour. The other nutritional information remains the same.|
Once the difference between bleached and unbleached flour is understood, it is easier to identify when to use which flour. Bleached flour is popular in the industries as it has a good shelf life, it ages quickly for quicker use, and gives a better appearance to the food items. It also makes the food items lighter. Bleached flour works best when used for baking pie crusts, pancakes, muffins, cookies, and waffles. On the other hand, unbleached flour is ideal for baking yeast breads, strudel, Danish pastries, cream puffs, puff pastries, Yorkshire pudding, éclairs, and popovers.
It is a known fact that consuming white flour in excess is not healthy for us. However, bleached white flour may cause more harm than the unbleached one. Though the nutrition in both types of flour is similar, the bleaching agents used in bleached flour are harmful. Though the long-term effects are not identified, these agents are considered dangerous. Alloxan is a byproduct of bleaching, which is actually a toxin. Animal studies indicate that it may cause diabetes.
Both types of flours are popular with bakers. Weighing the benefits of bleached flour against the risks involved, and depending on the recipe, it is for you to decide whether to use bleached flour or the unbleached one.