The key difference between bleached and unbleached flour is that the bleached flour has chemical bleaching agents added to it to speed up the process of aging while unbleached flour is naturally aged.
When flour is milled, it has a yellowish/off-white tinge that some people find unpleasant. However, after few months, the flour naturally whitens. As this process takes time, some producers use chemicals to speed up the process of aging. Flour that is aged this way is called bleached flour. In contrast, unbleached flour refers to flour that ages naturally.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Bleached Flour
3. What is Unbleached Flour
4. Similarities Between Bleached and Unbleached Flour
5. Side by Side Comparison – Bleached vs Unbleached Flour in Tabular Form
What is Bleached Flour?
Bleached flour refers to flour that contains a whitening agent added to it. After milling, flour generally has an off-white colour. Since some people prefer pure white flour, companies began to introduce chemical bleaching agents to bleach flour. These chemicals can bleach flour, removing the natural yellowish tinge and giving it a lighter colour.
Benzoyl peroxide, nitrogenous dioxide and chlorine gas are some of these chemical agents that help to bleach flour. Adding them to flour gives an ultra-white, ultra-fine flour that can rise faster in bread. Using bleached flour in baked goods can give you a nice colour as well as a softer texture.
However, there are several disadvantages in bleached flour. Firstly, bleached flour is less nutritious than unbleached flour; a chemical breakdown occurs during the bleaching process, which diminishes the amount of nutrients in the flour. Secondly, flour is bleached using various chemicals. While most flour bleaching agents are safe and food-grade, many question the health effects of long-term consumption of these chemicals. Finally, some chefs also believe that bleached flour can sometimes give a bitter taste to food.
What is Unbleached Flour?
Unbleached flour refers to flour that has not been treated with bleaching agents. In other words, this is natural flour, which has not undergone the process of bleaching. This flour is naturally aged, so it’s slightly coarser than bleached flour. Since the aging process occurs naturally, it takes a longer time to produce this flour. Thus, it is more expensive than bleached flour.
Since unbleached flour has a denser texture than bleached flour, it helps to provide more structure in baked goods. It is ideal for food like yeast breads, cream puffs, eclairs, and pastries. Moreover, this flour has more nutritions and is better for your health.
What are the Similarities Between Bleached and Unbleached Flour?
- Both types of flour can be used in baking.
- Bleached flour and unbleached flour can be used interchangeably in recipes.
What is the Difference Between Bleached and Unbleached Flour?
Unbleached flour is flour that has aged naturally after being milled. In contrast, bleached flour is flour that contains bleaching agents to speed up the process of ageing. This is the main difference between bleached and unbleached flour. The bleaching agents result in a whiter, finer-grain flour with a softer texture. Thus, food made with bleached flour tend to have more volume, softer texture, and better colour. In addition, it takes more time to produce unbleached flour since the natural aging process takes time. Thus, this flour is also more expensive than bleached flour.
However, there are some disadvantages of bleached flour as well. Bleached flour tends to be slightly less nutritious than naturally aged flour. Moreover, many question the adverse effects of bleached flour since it has chemicals added to it.
Summary – Bleached vs Unbleached Flour
Unbleached flour is flour that has aged naturally after being milled while bleached flour is flour that contains bleaching agents to speed up the process of aging. The difference between bleached and unbleached flour is their properties and nutritional value. However, they can be used in recipes interchangeably.
1.Fisk, Michelle. “Risks of Unbleached Flour.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 3 Oct. 2017. Available here
2.“What Is Bleached Flour?” Baking Bites, 20 Feb. 2015. Available here
1.’Flours’By Mudd1 – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2.’Whole wheat grain flour being scooped’By Margaret Hoogstrate (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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