All these flours: what’s the difference?

March 1, 2018 7:16 am Published by 4 Comments

At Naturally Good Food we stock a fantastic range of flour. We’ve got traditional varieties, as well as the most up-to-date options on the market. A quick search of our website turns up over 100 types and sizes of flour. But what’s the difference between them?

We'd like to explain the difference between our various flours.

We’ve got over 100 types and sizes of flour…what’s the difference between them?

What’s the difference between self-raising and plain flour?

Self-raising flour is plain flour with an added raising agent (baking powder). In the UK, self-raising flour does not contain any added salt (in the US, it sometimes does).

What’s the difference between white and wholemeal flours?

Wholewheat flour is higher in fibre than white flour

Wholemeal flour is made from the whole of the wheat berry

Wholemeal (or wholewheat) flours contain the entire ‘berry’ of the grain: the bran, endosperm and germ. In white flour, only the endosperm of the berry is milled: the outer casing is discarded. White flours are generally softer to handle, but lower in fibre.

What’s the difference between stoneground and other flours?

Stoneground flours are created by grinding the grain between stones. Other flours are ‘roller-milled’, with rollers breaking down the grain. Roller-milled flours are much finer and produce a more elastic and glutinous dough. Stoneground flours, with their larger particles, are more fibrous and release their energy more slowly.

What’s the difference between organic and non-organic flour?

Our organic flour is wonderfully soft

Organic flour is grown and processed in accordance with strict organic regulations

Organic flour is grown to strict organic standards, without the use of certain pesticides and fertilisers, in a manner supportive of the environment, and without artificial additives. Many of our customers also notice a difference in texture, with our organic white flours, for instance, wonderfully soft.

What’s the difference between gluten-free and standard flours?

Wheat and certain other grains contain gluten, so the flour produced from them contains gluten. Gluten-free flours are made from grains, pulses or nuts that are naturally gluten-free. The crops are grown, harvested and processed in dedicated gluten-free facilities.

It's just one of our many gluten-free flours

Cassava flour is naturally gluten-free

Gluten-free flours don’t work exactly like standard flour. You may need to add more liquid when baking with them, ‘work’ the ingredients less, cook for a different length of time, or use additional ingredients, such as psyllium husk, xanthan gum, guar gum or ground linseed as a binder. However, many recipes work much better with gluten-free flour than with standard flour: this is true for dense, moist, chewy cakes, for example, or in recipes that make the very best of the texture and flavour of almond flour.

What’s the difference between strong and normal flour?

The difference here is all to do with the type of wheat grain used to make the flour. Hard wheat grain, used for strong flour, has a high protein content and is rich in gluten, making an elastic dough that’s great for bread. Soft wheat, meanwhile, is lower in protein and gluten and gives a more crumbly result, ideal for cakes and biscuits.

What’s the difference between all our different types of flour?

Ground almonds have a wealth of uses, across the cooking spectrum.

Ground almonds aren’t just used in gluten-free cooking!

Having covered the basics, the fact remains that there’s still a huge range of flours out there, in every category! Some have quite specific uses: ground almonds, for example, are popularly used to thicken curries, gram flour is what you need for pakoras, and teff flour makes traditional injera flatbreads. (Though you can use them for any other purpose you wish!)

When deciding on a flour, it really comes down to a matter of taste (looking for something nutty? A hint of coconut perhaps?), texture (a hearty loaf, or a dainty fairycake?), and nutrition (do you need something high in fibre? Are you looking to reduce your wheat intake?). It would be a real shame simply to buy all-purpose flour every week, when there are so many other options out there. Why not choose a different flour each month and give them all a whirl?



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This post was written by Yzanne


  • Rwth Hunt says:

    Who mills your flours ? It’s the Organic Doves Farm Spelt flour , and Granary if you do it. I’m very interested in Food Security.

    • Yzanne says:

      Hi Rwth – we receive flours from a variety of producers. They’ll all have their own milling arrangements. If it’s Doves Farm you’re particularly interested in, you should contact them directly (they’re a very helpful company). This link gives all their contact details:

      Best wishes,

      Yzanne Mackay
      Writer and Editor
      Naturally Good Food

  • Nigel Kellman says:

    You say that organic flour is produced without certain fertilisers and pesticides. What about herbicides? I’ve read it is the use of herbicides to ‘finish’ wheat which may be leading to a spike in gluten intolerance.

    • Yzanne says:

      Hi Nigel,

      According to the Soil Association, no herbicides ‘like Glysophate’ can be used in organic farming. Glysophate is the main ingredient in the infamous herbicide Round-up. If you eat organic, you won’t be taking in any glysophate – and that’s the herbicide that has been linked, in various ways, to coeliac disease.

      Organic farmers can’t use synthetic herbicides (with a very few exceptions). They CAN use natural herbicides – that is, herbicides made from ingredients that are naturally derived and that will be quickly degraded by weather or by microbes, and thus will not affect humans.

      You might be wondering about the exceptions. These vary from country to country, so it would be worth carrying out some intensive research, if you were particularly concerned. There are very strict rules on their use (and they don’t appear to be used very heavily).

      That’s as much as we know on the subject. Certainly, organic farming avoids the use of glysophate in herbicides, which should, therefore, also reassure those worried about the growth in gluten intolerance.

      Any further information from anyone who knows more would be welcome!

      Best wishes,

      Yzanne Mackay
      Writer and Editor
      Naturally Good Food

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