Surely, you happened to read a technical sheet on the type of flour you bought and you have noticed it is rich in technicalities and specific notions that send back to the in force legislation.
Their comprehension cannot exclude the basic knowledge, therefore in this excursus we hint at the raw material and at the producing process by analysing the characterizing aspects.
What is the construction of the grain?
The wheat cariopsis is defined as a dry and indehiscent* fruit attached to the seed.
*indehiscent: remaining closed at maturity
In the seed, there are three fundamental parts:
A whole grain is any grain (not just wheat!) which maintains all three of its parts. Keeping all three parts of the grain means you keep all of the beneficial components the whole grain has to offer. The three parts are called the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.
This is the tough and fibrous outer shell of the wheat kernel. This was created by nature to protect the interior of the wheat berry from pesky insects and the elements so the kernel can sprout and grow into a new plant. It contains important antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber.
This is the largest part of the grain, which is fortunate because it is the food supply for the plant when it first starts to grow before it has well-established roots and leaves for nourishment. This is the starchy part of the grain where most of the carbohydrate can be found. It also provides proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
This is the most important part of the grain in regards to its development because this is the embryo that will transform into a plant. This is also the only portion of the grain that contains healthy fats. It also contains B vitamins, some protein, and minerals.
The action of separating flour from bran takes the name of sifting and it is executed through a system of sifters. As the sifting degree varies, the composition of flour varies too, a high yield drives you to obtain a rougher flour, a lower yield a more refined flour.
It is now possible to understand the definition reported in the dpr n° 187/2001, that in art. 1 quotes clearly:
1. Soft grain flour is the product obtained from the grinding and the following sifting of flour freed from foreign substances and impurities.
2. Integral soft grain flour is the product obtained from grinding soft grain wheat freed from foreign substances and impurities.
DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC FEBRUARY 9TH, 2001, N. 187
SOFT GRAIN FLOUR: TYPES AND DENOMINATION
In Italy, flour is classified either as 1, 0, or 00, and refers to how finely ground the flour is and how much of the bran and germ have been removed. 00 flour is the most highly refined and is talcum-powder soft.
Which are the other law provisions?
Humidity Degree. Legislation contemplates this parameter as it is reported in chart 1. The humidity of flour doesn’t have to exceed 14, 50%, but it is permitted mixing 15,50% humidity content, with the only clause that the label reports maximum humidity content 15.50%.
A higher humidity content is considered a fraud, and furthermore a high humidity level limits the conservation of flour. It is the cause for developing mould and for microbes, presence of pests, loss of optimal organoleptic traits, stale odour for rancidity, uneven colour, presence of lumps.
It is for this reason that, in addition to controlling the level of humidity of the finished product effected by the mill, it is fundamental that the user conserves in optimal way the flour in a dry and fresh place.
Ash content: the maximum value of ash has to fit in the category of the product.
Protein content: always in chart 1 we can note that as the ash content increases, the minimum content of proteins increases as well. The protein increase is justified from the fact that many proteins are present in ash.
What are the phases of the productive process?
Is it better to grind one type of wheat or a different variety of wheat?
According to the different needs, we can choose to grind a mix of different grains with similar characteristic (as for protein content and rheological parameter) or grind only one variety.
This choice is up to the mill and it is bound to the fact of owning an adequate structure. Grinding only one variety can be valid only if the grain has real high performances, or is a product with a precise origin, in all other cases, it is wise to work with a mix of more than one grain to obtain always the same product, minimizing the risk of flaws due only to one variety.
Why other ingredients are added to flours?
In conventional flours, adding micro and macro ingredients to improve and correct the technological characteristic of the flour contained.
The following are the admitted ingredients for conventional flours:
1. Gluten. It could be added in order to increase the protein value. The gluten content is fundamental because it is determinant for the creation of the dough.
2. Ascorbic Acid (E300). It is added to increase the gluten net, as outcome there is the resistence of dough.
3. Enzymatic processes. Enzymes are reaction catalyst, in other words it increases the speed of chemical reactions. The most used enzymes are:
– amylase: they attack starch making available fermenting sugars that make up an underlayer for yeasts.
– proteases: they cut the proteic chains giving dough a greater flexibility.
-oxidation: they reduce the extensibility of dough
-pentosanasi and cellulasis:
NOT ADMITTED: In Italy, whitening that are admitted in foreign legislations. The whitening of flour is a forbidden praxis for two reasons: above all it is necessary the usage of harmful substances for consumers, and in second place, they can modify the aspect of flour type 0 just like 00 flour facilitating frauds.