Flour is the almost essential part of every meal
Flour is a key ingredient in many recipes such as bread, crackers, cakes and pasta. It is a powdery texture and has been used since 9000 BC where wheat grains were ground by stones to make flour. Not just made of wheat seeds, flour can also be made from other grains as well such as rye and maize or even lentils.
Whole wheat flour in particular is known for its health benefits. Whole wheat is ideal for boosting fibre in your diet, is a great source of magnesium, helps reduce inflammation, pain, and has been even known to help people lose weight.
Kneading dough to make bread etc is a vital step in creating gluten which helps the bread take its shape and gain its ‘bread like’ texture. Flour, water and yeast are the main ingredients to a basic bread recipe. Flour should be added gradually, and should be carefully measured out so that your dough can gain the right texture – too much flour could dry it out. To knead it, use the heels of your hands to press the dough. Fold it back on itself, and keep repeating the motion.
Whether you are making lentil flour from scratch or using pre-bought lentil flour, it is a great gluten-free alternative to standard wheat flour (lentil flour can be found in health food stores). If you are feeling adventurous and want to make you own lentil flour, some find that placing whole lentils in a blender does a good job of grinding them up properly.
As whole grains are considered one of the healthiest grains out there, it makes sense to do some cooking using them! They are a crucial part of a healthy diet and have been known to lower the risk of heart disease. Also known as an “unrefined” grain, whole grain flour still has all the nutrients packed into each little piece so that you can reap the health benefits.
Tips for Buying Flour:
- Get the right flour – don’t buy plain flour when the recipe that you are using requires self-raising flour!
- Plain and Self-Raising – great for crumbling textures
- Wheatmeal and Brown – very fine texture
- White – High in gluten; great for pastries
- Wholemeal – Very absorbent and has good nutritional value
- Gluten-free – Cornmeal or buckwheat etc are a great alternatives to be used in tortillas and pastas.
If you have weevil or insect problems, then you may not be storing your flour correctly. Put it in a strong plastic bag, squeeze out the air and then freeze it for two days. It can then be stored in a cool, dark place. Don’t store flour in a cupboard over a cooker or kettle – the heat and steam will attract insects.
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