FOOD

UNDERSTANDING FLOUR NUMBERS

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Ever since I moved to Libya nearly three years ago I have been puzzled by the flour on sale here, which is often Italian with a number on it. I have finally got round to looking up what it means. (In Britain and the US the flour packet explains what to use it for.)


To my surprise, it has nothing to do with gluten content but with how much the flour has been milled. Therefore 00 is the finest grade, passing through 0, 1 and 2 which is the coarsest. So do not be surprised if you see 00 flour claiming to be suitable for cakes, pastries, pizza and bread!


But sometimes flour is imported from countries other than Italy, so here is some further explanation thanks to Wikipedia. And if you are very inspired to read up on this subject you will find an endless quantity of stuff on the internet.


In some markets, the different available flour varieties are labelled according to the ash mass ("mineral content") that remains after a sample was incinerated in a laboratory oven. This is an easily verified indicator for the fraction of the whole grain that ended up in the flour, because the mineral content of the starchy endosperm is much lower than that of the outer parts of the grain. Flour made from all parts of the grain (extraction rate: 100%) leaves about 2 g ash or more per 100 g dry flour. Plain white flour (extraction rate: 50–60%) leaves only about 0.4 g.





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By Kate Minogue

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