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Kinds of wheat.

Any kind of wheat--red, white; winter, spring; hard, soft, or durum--can be used for bread flour. There are some technical differences of great importance to the commercial milling and baking industries, but of little consequence to most homesteaders, certainly when survival is at stake. Any wheat is better than no wheat!

But when there is a choice, a little knowledge will be helpful.

Hard wheat is rich in gluten of a strong tenacious character, while soft wheat contains less gluten and proportionately less starch.

Both are further divided into winter wheat and spring wheat, depending on when they are sown. These in turn are further divided into varieties.

The gluten of all hard wheats will take a larger proportion of water and will make larger loaves, but the bread made from soft wheats is "usually considered to have a finer flavor," according to a turn-of-the-century book on the subject. Flours are classed as "strong" or "weak" according to their proportion of gluten.

Although some recent books flatly state that durum wheats are of no use to the home baker, at least one older one says that "durum wheats have a more crude protein, and make a stickier dough, harder to handle; but the dough holds moisture better, and having a greater absorptive power, yields more loaves to the barrel than the common varieties."

Add to these different varieties and differences of opinion the effects of soil and climatic conditions on flour--the latter including the weather at the time of baking as well as during the growing season--and it's easy to see how results can vary even using the same recipe.

Good bread flour: (from USDA Farmers' Bulletin No. 389, issued about 1900) --" In general housewives prefer flour that is white with a faint yellow tinge. After being pressed in the hand it should fall loosely apart; if it stays in lumps it has too much moisture in it. When rubbed between the fingers it should not feel too smooth and powdery, but its individual particles should be vaguely distinguishable. When put between the teeth it should `crunch' a little. Its taste should be sweet and nutty, without a suspicion of acidity."
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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Mar 1, 1999
Words:361
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