Therefore, picking the best one might seem like a daunting task.
Some brands are store-branded and affordable, while others are expensive.
For this reason, it’s common to wonder whether there is any difference in these flour brands.
So, What’s the Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Flour?
Many of us associate expensive products with high quality. While this is true for most other things, it doesn’t always apply to flour. A flour brand may be expensive or cheap, depending on whether it is organic or unbleached. But generally, all flour is the same.
You may choose to spend more money on flour in some cases.
However, sometimes, expensive doesn’t always mean top quality.
So that we’re understood, we are not saying cheaper quality flour is always better. In fact, in some cases, expensive brands are better than buying cheap ones.
What’s important is figuring out the best brand for your cooking needs.
How Does All Purpose Flour Differ?
There are two primary components that can help you make a purchasing decision.
One is the amount of protein in the given flour.
Brands have different protein amounts.
The protein content is crucial since brands with more protein tend to form gluten quickly.
Therefore, giving your baked products a good structure.
The protein level is influenced by the wheat the flour comes from.
For instance, brands using hard red winter wheat have 10-13 percent protein.
However, many manufacturers mix it with soft wheat with an 8-10% protein count to meet specific standards.
You can determine the difference between the two by using your fingers.
Hard wheat flour has a subtle granular feel, while soft wheat has a refined starchy feel.
Some all-purpose flour with high protein content includes
Those with moderate are
- Gold Medal
- and Martha White,
while those with low protein count are
2. Bleached or Unbleached
Another difference between the flour types is whether they are bleached or unbleached.
Milled flour has a yellowish cast that some people don’t find appealing.
But after a few months, the yellow parts continue to whiten naturally.
But note that “aging” flour naturally is expensive. Therefore, some producers do the process chemically by using benzoyl peroxide or other chemicals.
For flours labeled “bleached,” manufacturers probably used chemicals to fade the yellow wheat color.
Both bleached and unbleached flour can be used to prepare several meals like oatmeal cookies and cornbread.
We advise that you experiment with different ones to decide what works for you rather than buying cheaper or expensive flour outright.
We must also mention some places like Europe have banned bleached flour.
That’s because some chemicals used may cause cancer and weren’t intended to be consumed.
Why Is Flour Different Everywhere?
Wheat crops are among the easiest plants to grow. Therefore, flour milling happens in various parts worldwide.
However, these flours differ depending on the grain milled, climate, growing conditions, and the type of wheat grown.
Note that wheat grown in China, for instance, can be different from that grown in the US.
Additionally, various wheat grains produce varying results when milled.
Thus, the grain used when milling flour can be different for two brands, even if they share the origin.
We must also mention that there are different grades of flour:
- first clear
- and second clear.
These have a darker color than patent flours, and they contain high ash content. For this reason, they’re used in rye bread to create a desirable taste.
The Best Flour for Making Bread
The best flour for baking bread is unbleached all-purpose flour, that is, if you’re making soft varieties like white sandwich bread.
You can use bread four for making rustic or hearth loaves or butter and egg-rich bread.
Remember that low gluten is suitable for baked goods that don’t necessarily need more elasticity, like bread, cakes, muffins, and pancakes.
Low gluten flour results to tender baked products with a smooth texture.
All Purpose Flour vs. Wheat Flour
All-purpose flours are not the same.
They are different depending on the brand, which can affect your cooking.
But it’s worth noting that all-purpose flour is significantly cheaper than wheat flour because of its shelf life.
One thing that influences the cost of food production is the shelf life.
The product will be much cheaper if its shelf life is longer than items with a short shelf life.
All-purpose flour has a shelf life of around one year, while whole wheat flour is around 2-3 months.
At the same time, we must also mention that all purpose is cheaper than wheat flour because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Bear in mind that the latter has the germ with oil than can go bad in a few months.
So, it has to be kept refrigerated to maintain freshness. The cost of refrigeration increased the price.
It’s also worth noting that white flour is cheaper as it has a high demand.
Since many people use it, it is produced in large quantities even though extra steps are involved.
On the other hand, whole wheat flour has several oils which can go rancid sooner. It’s the same as brown vs. white rice.
Can You Tell the Flour Quality?
Yes. Mills use several tests and equipment to determine the quality of the flour.
But you can also do that using sensory tests.
You’ll use your smell, sight, and feel. However, this is tricky and beyond an average person’s ability.
For this reason, bakers usually rely on the flour’s consistency, behavior, and reputation.
Is Expensive Flour Worth It?
An all-natural quality flour is pricier than the average flour bag.
That’s because it doesn’t have chemicals, additives, or refined GMO wheat.
You’ll support the local farmer and mill if you buy it locally.
Therefore, it is beyond just the quality, flavor, and safety.
Although there is little difference between cheap and expensive flour, the brand and type you choose influence your baking results.
It’s thus crucial to understand the protein content of the brand you are buying and the type of flour.
Also, it’s wise you consider whether the brand is bleached or unbleached.