The Beauty of Modern Flour Milling
August 29, 2021
Flour Processing Plant Engineering, Non Food Installation, Fabrications, Health & Safety
Flour is something we have all eaten in one form or another whether it’s as delicious pasta or warm crusty bread. It’s made from wheat grains, comprising the outer layer [or bran], the main body of the grain [or endosperm] and the germ [or sprouting embryo].
White flour is produced from the endosperm which represents the bulk of the grain. This part of the kernel contains carbohydrates, protein and iron. There are also major B vitamins niacin, riboflavin and thiamine along with soluble fibre. The kernel is sometimes called the ‘wheat berry’ and it’s various parts are separated and processed to produce different sorts of flour.
About 14% of the kernel weight is composed of bran, or the outer coating and contains only a small amount of protein. However it also has large amounts of the 3 major B vitamins, trace minerals and mostly insoluble dietary fibre.
This section is the sprouting embryo, and is often separated from the end product due to its 10% fat content, which can limit shelf life. The germ has small amounts of protein and larger amounts of B complex vitamins and trace minerals.
The Romans started a form of flour milling as far back as 6000BC, where they would toast the grains to get rid of the chaff. The resultant wheat would then be crushed between two stones, producing a very coarse, grainy flour. They would then sift the final product resulting in a finer flour.
During the modern milling process in purpose built facilities, the wheat seeds are separated into 3 components, pure white flour, bran and wheatgerm. Contrary to popular belief bleached flour is no longer legal in the Uk or EU, so white flour is naturally white. Grinding nowadays is more complex than in earlier times, using a clever system of machines to separate flour, bran and germ. The machines open the grains, then scrape, separate and grind, a process which is repeated as many times as needed.