Whenever we think of flour, we often associate flour with fine white powder. However, not all flour is white because there are different types of flour, such as bleached flour and unbleached flour.
If you never heard about them before, you may be wondering what the difference is between bleached and unbleached flour. I did the research, and here is what I discovered!
What Is The Difference Between Bleached And Unbleached Flour?
Bleached and unbleached flour are words used to define how flour was bleached, but all kinds of flour are bleached. Bleached flour involves adding powder and gaseous chemical agents to quickly bleach flour to achieve white flour. Unbleached flour allows oxygen and time to naturally bleach flour to make off-white flour.
Do you want to learn more about the differences between bleached and unbleached flour? Keep reading!
What Is The Purpose Of Bleaching Flour?
Normally, bleaching flour is done to enhance the overall baking qualities of flour because bleached flour has a whiter appearance and softer texture, which is ideal for most baked goods.
When flour is freshly milled, flour usually has a light yellow color. Once the flour is chemically or naturally bleached, the flour becomes white.
Is All Flour Bleached?
Despite what the terms unbleached and bleached may suggest, all types of flour can be considered bleached flour.
Instead, bleached flour refers to flour that was bleached with chemical agents to speed up the bleaching process.
On the other hand, unbleached flour is flour that naturally bleaches as the flour ages, and no chemical agents are added to unbleached flour.
How Is Bleached Flour Made?
Normally, bleached flour is made by taking freshly-milled flour and adding flour bleaching agents into the flour.
Depending on the manufacturer, a mixture of powder and gaseous bleaching agents can be used to bleach flour.
Normally, powder bleaching agents like benzoyl peroxide directly get combined with freshly mixed flour.
As for gaseous bleaching agents like chlorine and nitrogen peroxide, gaseous bleaching agents are combined with flour in a bin.
Bleaching flour with chemical agents usually whitens flour in two days. Thus, bleached flour is cheaper because bleached flour is faster to produce than unbleached flour.
How Is Unbleached Flour Made?
Despite the name, unbleached flour is technically still “bleached” but does not involve any chemicals in the bleaching process.
Instead, unbleached flour is made by allowing freshly milled flour to age for at least 1-2 months to let oxygen naturally bleach the flour.
Generally, naturally bleached flour takes much more time, effort, and space, which is why unbleached flour is more expensive than bleached flour.
Is Unbleached Flour Safer Than Bleached Flour?
It is hard to say if unbleached flour is safer than bleached flour, but most people will agree that unbleached flour is safer to eat than bleached flour because unbleached flour has fewer chemicals.
Currently, there are no major risks to eating bleached flour but there is also no hard evidence to show the potential long-term risks bleached flour can have.
However, some people may caution you to stay away from bleached flour that contains potassium bromate.
Some studies have suggested that potassium bromate could be a carcinogen, which is why Europe, Canada, and the United Kingdom have outlawed potassium bromate.
As of now, the United States has not banned potassium bromate but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has encouraged people to stop using potassium bromate.
Given that your bleached flour does not have potassium bromate, it is likely fine to consume. However, unbleached flour may be better since unbleached flour does not have chemicals.
Are Unbleached Flour And Bleached Flour Made From Wheat?
Normally, most types of flour that are labeled “bleached” or “unbleached” are made from wheat.
What Is Bleached Flour Used For?
Typically, bleached flour is used in recipes that require a paler appearance with a softer texture.
For instance, bleached flour is ideal for recipes like quick bread, cookies, pancakes, and muffins.
What Is Unbleached Flour Used For?
Usually, unbleached flour has a slightly denser texture than bleached flour. Unbleached flour is also off-white with slightly higher gluten content.
Therefore, unbleached flour is best suited for recipes that require more structure and denser textures, such as pastries, yeast bread, cream puffs, etc.
Can I Use Unbleached Flour Instead Of Bleached Flour?
Generally, you can easily use unbleached flour instead of bleached flour, especially if they are made from the same type of wheat.
However, your recipe may be a bit darker or yellowish than you would expect since unbleached flour is usually slightly yellow or off-white.
Moreover, your dish could have slightly more volume than expected since unbleached flour often has a bit more gluten than bleached flour.
Can I Use Bleached Flour Instead Of Unbleached Flour?
Typically, it is fine to use bleached flour as an alternative to unbleached flour, but your dish will likely have a much “brighter” color with a finer, smoother texture.
Which Is Better, Bleached Flour Or Unbleached Flour?
Deciding which type of flour is better will mostly depend on your needs since they are both wheat flour with slightly different appearances and textures.
Normally, bleached flour is best used for recipes that need a very light color, such as cupcakes or pancakes whereas unbleached flour can work for slightly denser and darker recipes.
As for safety, most people believe that unbleached flour is better than bleached flour because unbleached flour does not contain any chemical bleaching agents.
Check out our related articles to discover what high gluten flour is, what high protein flour is, and what high-grade flour is.
Bleached flour and unbleached flour are simply terms used to differentiate what methods were used to bleach flour since all kinds of flour are technically bleached.
While there is little to no difference in taste, bleached flour and unbleached flour have slightly different appearances and textures that make them better suited for specific recipes.