December 29, 2010

Red vs. White Wheat

When you go to buy hard wheat, you sometimes have a choice between red and white wheat.  What does this mean, and what is the difference?  A lot of people think there is a difference in nutritional value.  This is not true.  The only difference is that the gene(s) for color are taken out of the white wheat.
red wheat (left) white wheat (right)

Wheat ground into flour looks like this:
red wheat (left), white wheat (right)
You can see a slight difference in the color.  (If I knew how to take better pictures, you would be able to tell a bigger difference.)

To test how the flours differ when cooking, I made my bread recipe using all white wheat flour in one batch, and all red wheat flour in a second batch.
Bread made with red wheat

bread made with white wheat

red wheat (left), white wheat (right)

To sum up the experiment, bread made with white wheat is lighter in color, and has a softer texture than bread made with red wheat.  White wheat also rises a little higher.  The bread made with red wheat was easier to slice.  I typically make this same recipe using part red wheat and part white wheat with good results.
When I use wheat flour in every day recipes such as cookies, pizza dough, or pie crust, I like to use white wheat, because it is lighter in color and texture.  It blends in with all-purpose flour better.

Coming Up:  Gluten Free Cooking

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