INGREDIENTS

Buyer's guide

As the process of contemporary flour-making often affects its taste and nutritional quality, look for the stone-ground variety that’s ground in a revolving stone mill to ensure the best flavour. Organic flour is also popular. It is a legal requirement in the UK for packaging to state the flour’s nutritional content, so read the label to find out more. Heat-processed flour will keep longer than other flours.

Storage

Keep flour in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. The longer you store it unopened, the better quality bread you can make with it: the bread will rise more easily and will be softer, due to the natural chemical changes that occur during storage. However, once opened, the fatty acids in the grain’s germ will start to oxidise and become rancid. So, use opened packets of flour within one year.

Preparation

Flour can be combined with fat, liquid, eggs or yeast, and is used in to make breads, pasta, pastry, pancakes and dumplings. It is also used as a thickener in sauces and stews. Sift the flour before use to remove grit or lumps.

Other considerations

If you think you may suffer from a gluten allergy, such as coeliac disease, it's best to have yourself tested by a qualified medical professional, rather than self-diagnosing.

Flour contains a high degree of starches, which are complex carbohydrates. It is also likely to have 'flour improvers' added to enhance its keeping qualities. Vitamins, which are lost during the processing, are often added back in artificially to increase the flour's nutritional value. Additionally, plain, all-purpose or soft white flour is usually bleached to make it look more attractive.