Quality Control in Flour Milling
The Importance of Flour Quality Within the Food Industry
Wheat is one of the most, if not ‘the’ most, nutritionally important grains ever, and one which humans all over the world consume in one form or another. When wheat is ground down, it becomes flour, an extremely versatile product. It is of course used to create many of our staple foods such as bread. Within the wheat based food industry, the quality of the flour used is the most influential factor on the properties of the final product. The amount of protein contained in the wheat along with its quality determines the characteristics of the flour produced. Bread seems, to most people, like a fairly uncomplicated food to produce, but this isn’t the case due to the variation of end products. The same applies to its raw material ‘flour’, which many people imagine to be the same white product across the board.
Those in sectors like bakery, pastry, biscuit production etc know the physical, technological and chemical differences that exist between flour types.
Physical, Chemical & Technological Examination of Flour
The infrastructure of flour, along with the characteristics of the mill and type of developer used all have a bearing on the finished product. Most flour producing facilities carry out tests to ascertain info on moisture, gluten, protein, sedimentation etc. These tests determine the characteristics of the wheat before it enters the first stage. The milling process plays as important a role as the quality of the grain itself. The quality control laboratory and technical personnel work together during production. They will intervene at any stage of the production process if necessary.
The flour is carefully checked after production, and before shipment to ensure accordance with its purpose. These checks are carried out under three headings: physical, chemical and technological.
Physical & Visual Evaluation of Flour to Check Quality
The flour is physically and visually examined to discover if there is an excess of ‘pique’, and to check on the whiteness of the flour. Too much pique indicates an undesirable bran element in the flour. The chemical properties of flour are related to the amount and quality of the protein present. Gluten content provides an elastic structure, and is extremely important, if the flour is to become dough when mixed with water. In terms of bread making, evaluation of the technological properties of flour is the most critical part.
This evaluation predicts:
- how flour will behave during kneading of the dough, fermentation and baking into bread
- the dough’s resistance to applied force
- how much it can stretch
- its elasticity
Innovation & Improvements in Flour Production
Tests are also needed for various other pieces of information such as how much the dough is likely to rise in the fermentation stage and how much gas it can retain. The quality of the yeast used here is of course relevant, but the elastic qualities of the flour are just as important. Once all of this information is gathered, types of flour are usually dosed with the appropriate flour improvers.
The researchers who carry out these tests play a large part in delivering high quality flour and related products to the general public. Leading flour developer companies are constantly innovating and improving methods in flour production.
Quality Control in Flour Milling, The Importance of Flour Quality Within the Food Industry. Physical, Chemical & Technological Examination of Flour, Physical & Visual Evaluation of Flour to Check Quality. Innovation & Improvements in Flour Production
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