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What Is The Difference Between Bleached and Unbleached Flour?

So my beloved wife has been doing quite a bit of baking lately, and one thing I didn’t understand was the difference between bleached and unbleached flour.

At the surface level, it’s reasonably easy to see a difference.  Bleached flour is whiter and finer.  This is because it has bleaching agents added to it.

All flour beaches naturally as it ages, which softens the flour and makes it whiter.  Many manufacturers like to shortcut the process and add bleaching products to their flour.  Better that than use up all the space in the warehouse while it bleaches naturally, right?

Some folks prefer bleached flour because it can provide more structure and volume to your baked goods.  Other folks prefer unbleached flour because they don’t like the artificial additives.

In some cases folks can actually taste a bitter aftertaste from bleached flour.

Personally, I don’t see the wisdom in using flour that was bleached with chlorine.  I’m willing to sacrifice some of the appearance of the food if it means we’re eating healthier.

To summarize:

  1. Bleached and unbleached flour are will actually provide different results, but those results tend to be mostly cosmetic in nature.
  2. Bleached flour is flour that was chemically bleached, usually with chlorine
  3. Unbleached flour is flour that has aged naturally without chemical aid
  4. Some folks care about the difference, many don’t.

What’s your preference?

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2 Responses to What Is The Difference Between Bleached and Unbleached Flour?

  1. I prefer the unbleached. Though actually I prefer using BREAD flour, but I have to admit since I have been grinding my own wheat I don’t really have a gluten problem. Definitely unbleached for regular non-bread baking. I figure, it’s the same price, less chemical additives, and I certainly don’t care that it is just a HAIR darker. As long as it tastes good!

  2. There’s a third option my grocery store just started to carry: unbleached <> whole wheat flour, made from a variety of wheat that is lighter in color. It’s made by King Arthur, and while not the cheapest, if appearance is a factor, it’s an option.