Bread Is Broken
November 10, 2015 7:57 AM   Subscribe

 


I am always shocked when I come across adults who eat commercial white bread.
posted by aught at 8:13 AM on November 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm all for better flour options in the US. I'm so jealous of French bakers, they have a lot more and better options for both flour and butter than we do.

The other half of making bread taste better is fermentation. Even basic industrial US flour can make a much tastier bread if you give the yeast some time to develop some flavor. In the extreme that gets you to San Francisco sourdough, which to me is overdone. (Particularly when adulterated with souring flavors!) But the difference between a slow dough and a fast dough is night and day.
posted by Nelson at 8:14 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


If there is one thing I miss about living in a small city like Sherbrooke, Quebec--aside from there being incredible microbreweries everywhere--it would be all the local boulangeries. You would eventually figure out your favourite, get to know the owners, and then you'd be in for your order every week. I miss that ritual of going into a shop that does nothing but bread (and sometimes desserts) and inhaling the amazing smells. Quebec really does have a lot of their European cousins attitude towards food: good bread, good cheese, etc. Their red wine is still shit, though.

I don't think I have bought commercial sandwich bread in forever. Mostly because I don't eat a lot of sandwiches and mostly because I can usually find a decent crusty loaf for dinner and toast somewhere.
posted by Kitteh at 8:16 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


If you all have a problem with white bread, you should see what goes into some high end high ratio pastry doughs. You want to rethink eating something? Rethink wedding cake.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:18 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am always shocked when I come across adults who eat commercial white bread.

Depending on when, where, and with what amount of money you were raised, you may not have known anything else. My dad, growing up in a working class town in rural Massachusetts in the 50s and 60s, told me he was in his 20s before he knew there was anything else, and even then better quality bread wasn't easy to come by unless you made it yourself (and that packaged bread was a quasi-status item, with home cooking being associated with not being able to afford anything better). I know people who grew up in comparable circumstances decades later that have said similar things.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:19 AM on November 10, 2015 [22 favorites]


I didn't know before reading this article that whole wheat flour is reconstituted at the mill. I don't know how deleterious this is to the flavor/nutritional profile, but it doesn't seem like the state of affairs I would wish for my staff-of-life sandwiches.
posted by kozad at 8:19 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I miss that ritual of going into a shop that does nothing but bread (and sometimes desserts) and inhaling the amazing smells.

Living in the Niagara region and thankfully there are a number of fantastic bread-shops/bakeries. Not only is the bread better tasting, it is often surprisingly more reasonably priced. And I also feel better about supporting a local community business. Long live bread!
posted by Fizz at 8:22 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fizz, that was one of those weird culture shocks I had when I moved to Ontario. "Where are all your boulangeries?? Why can't I purchase beer at a dep??"

Anywhozit, I can only think of ONE place in downtown Kingston that actually sells good bread and they are pricey. I mean, I will either buy it or go without.
posted by Kitteh at 8:26 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I read in an old Last Gasp comic, a story on modern food production - saying about bread,

"the staff of life has become a rubber crutch".
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:30 AM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is really neat. If I had a ready (and not-super-pricey) source of interesting flours, I would definitely use them. I mostly make (white) pizza dough at home, but last month I bought a bag King Arthur white whole wheat flour on a whim and made a few 100% whole wheat loaves. The first one didn't turn out at all, but once I got the idea to let it rest a little longer than white-flour dough, it's made some really tasty bread. I'd be intrigued to get different flavors out of that.

Unfortunately, babyozzy really, really likes Levy's Jewish Rye (with seeds, thank you), so we've been keeping a loaf of that around lately, usually to the exclusion of homemade loaves (because we can only eat so much bread).
posted by uncleozzy at 8:30 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of our new local bakeries was featured by Bittman last week. I've been there. The column was about pizza but they bake bread too. It's the full unicorn tears locally grown heritage wheat farm-to-table experience. It's good, but it wasn't really the sky opening up and angels singing experience I was expecting. I'm used to fairly good small scale bakery bread, I know how to bake my own and use starter and such. Leveling up to the next tier felt kind of like I was entering the realm of diminishing returns, to be honest.

At least I'm not the guy in my office who spent time living in Paris as a yoot yet now keeps a loaf of literal actual Wonderbread at work with which to make his lunch sandwiches. Smdh.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:31 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I make most of my own sandwich bread, and then slice and freeze it. I live alone, and I'd rather know exactly what I'm eating. But I've not tried to get more creative than Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat and corn meal or oatmeal. I wonder if Bob's reconstitutes their whole wheat?

Also, how do I find these boutique varieties of flour? Is it possible for consumers to get any?
posted by suelac at 8:34 AM on November 10, 2015


I am always shocked when I come across adults who eat commercial white bread.

And yet, foodies galore would aggressively downvote any "authentic" BBQ or soulfood joint if there wasn't half a loaf of Sunbeam or Bunny included with the meal.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:35 AM on November 10, 2015 [24 favorites]


I grew up on fresh bread every morning in Italy and it was always white bread. Heavenly white bread. Crispy and chewy and steaming and so on. I don't like the taste of any other bread flour. Fresh baked white bread is obviously better, baguettes or ciabattas or what have you, but if push comes to shove and my options are "white, wheat, or sourdough," commercial white bread is what I want.
posted by lydhre at 8:37 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I didn't know before reading this article that whole wheat flour is reconstituted at the mill.

This ensures a consistent product (which is pretty important for baking) even though the wheat may have come from several different growers. It's similar to how most commercial milk is produced: the milk is skimmed, then the fat is added back in precise proportion to make 1%, 2%, and 'whole' milk.

Whether's that's worth the homogenized (no pun intended) product is another question, but there is a point to it.

As for the wheat cultivars discussed in the main article: I'm all for crop diversity and interesting bread, but there wasn't much discussion of cost efficiency. How productive are these cultivars? How disease resistant are they? Their ultimate success in the market may depend a lot on those factors. I like making good bread, but even as a culinary history nerd I'd be hard pressed to pay $20 for a pound of flour.
posted by jedicus at 8:38 AM on November 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I'd be careful about white bread judgement - there are a lot of implicit cultural assumptions that go along with bashing it*. It has its place, and as Thorzdad says, its place next to hot wings kicks ass.

*There's a documentary whose title I can't remember, but shows the controversy around a community co op's decision to only include "healthy, natural" bread, at the expense of the actual community members who grew up and demanded inexpensive, and tasty white bread. The co op compromised and included both.
posted by Think_Long at 8:41 AM on November 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I love this project! I've never really thought about how the variety of wheat might impact the flavor of the bread. Also, I was always told that bread could be maximum 50% or so whole wheat before it just won't rise properly, but of course that can't be true since they had nothing else between the invention of bread and the 1840s or so. Hopefully it will make it out of the lab and I'll be able to buy a loaf at the local bakery in a couple years.
posted by miyabo at 8:42 AM on November 10, 2015


It's also how granulated sugar and orange juice is made. OJ's process is particularly heinous.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 AM on November 10, 2015


Hipster establishment idea: a bakery called "BREAD LAB" where you pick your wheat, your milling type, your bread shape, and your crust, and they make a custom loaf of bread for you.
posted by miyabo at 8:44 AM on November 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


Depending on when, where, and with what amount of money you were raised, you may not have known anything else.

The examples I can think of, relatives like my parents, one of my sisters, and my partner's family, and professional acquaintances, all have the financial means to buy whatever bread they want, and the education to know better. I'm not talking inner-city residents with limited means who can only shop at a bodega that carries only generic white bread.
posted by aught at 8:46 AM on November 10, 2015


Is there empirical evidence available for the claim that "industrial production destroyed...the nutritional value of wheat"? In what respects are modern flours and breads worse than the historical product? And to what extent does this matter in different environmental and socioeconomic settings? It feels like one of those things that needs a lot of unpacking to actually allow us to make good policy decisions about, rather than something that should form the basis of a highly class-inflected cultural crusade.
posted by howfar at 8:48 AM on November 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


aught, it's probably because they like the taste of generic white bread then. And there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by lydhre at 8:48 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Rethink wedding cake.

Well, sure. But no one eats wedding cake three meals a day either.
posted by aught at 8:48 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


i love good bread. I hate white bread. But these days, I grab a bag of wheat bread off the shelf knowing that I don't let myself eat bread often enough to justify buying delicious bread that i would have to eat in under a week.
posted by rebent at 8:49 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The trick to white bread is that the butter and the slice of bread should be the same weight.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:49 AM on November 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Bread is one of my dietary weaknesses. I am currently embarking on cutting down on my bread consumption because if left to my own devices I will eat it all goddamn day and night. (Esp with Marmite.)
posted by Kitteh at 8:51 AM on November 10, 2015


If you're in the DC/MD area, Atwater's Bakery comes to various farmers markets with bread made from various heirloom wheat varieties from named local farms which are quite good. It's not cheap but no more expensive than other hipster bread.
posted by adamsc at 8:51 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, I was always told that bread could be maximum 50% or so whole wheat before it just won't rise properly, but of course that can't be true since they had nothing else between the invention of bread and the 1840s or so.

Refined flour has existed for millennia (the ancient Romans certainly used it). It was more expensive because of the extra labor required and the fact that getting a pound of white flour requires more than a pound of whole grain as input, so it tended to be used by the rich and ruling classes. For enough money one could get a pure white flour mostly indistinguishable from modern white flour, minus any differences in things like protein content. By the late medieval period, water or wind-driven mills did the work of both grinding and sifting, making white flour more affordable.

But it is also the case that one can make perfectly good bread from 100% whole wheat flour, just not necessarily from the same recipe one would use for white flour.
posted by jedicus at 8:53 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


aught, it's probably because they like the taste of generic white bread then. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I actually think it runs odder and deeper than that - it's kind of a culture war marker, a kind of "21st century, don't you dare make me change my habits" stubbornness. And I suppose people could like the taste better, but that's hard for me to imagine since white bread (to me) has almost no taste, and so many wheat breads are so delicious (I'm with Kitteh, I could happily eat a lot more bread than I generally do).
posted by aught at 8:55 AM on November 10, 2015


But no one eats wedding cake three meals a day either.

No, of course not. hides peanut-butter-&-wedding-cake sandwich before anybody notices it
posted by scalefree at 8:56 AM on November 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


I got hooked on whole white wheat flour and then the markets stopped carrying it. So I bought a wheat grinder and started ordering 50 lb. bags of wheat from a farmer in Kansas. Fresh milled flour is great stuff. And given plenty of rising time, a 100% whole wheat loaf can be just as soft as a white loaf. But it takes a lot of practice to get there.

Now that I'm working again and I have access, I use a lot of King Arthur whole white wheat flour. Not as good as freshly ground, but good enough for me.
posted by rikschell at 8:58 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Tassajara all-whole-wheat recipe is a lot of work, but it produces a tasty, dense bread. Dense, mind you - think of a dense rye and then substitute whole wheat. When I bake yeasted bread, this is usually what I make. The crust is not crackly - again, it's like a dense rye.

I am happy to see this article because it suggests that the gluten-free thing is going to return to being a thing only for people who have various wheat-related health/medical concerns rather than a vague source of virtue-feelings for all - artisanal single-source wheat with terroir is going to be another class-marker product, but in a couple of years it will filter out into the rest of the world.
posted by Frowner at 8:58 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I suppose people could like the taste better, but that's hard for me to imagine since white bread (to me) has almost no taste, and so many wheat breads are so delicious

Some people do, in fact, like the taste of white bread better, and don't think wheat breads are delicious. Tastes differ!

I am okay with that, because it means more delicious wheat breads for me.
posted by cjelli at 8:58 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hipster establishment idea...

That... that could actually work, in the right neighborhood.
posted by aramaic at 9:00 AM on November 10, 2015


Some things are better with white flour, too - it's not just a trick of the man. Whole wheat baguettes aren't worth the paper they're written on (I mean, as baguettes; they're often perfectly decent rustic loaves), and I know someone who recently tried to make whole wheat croissants. I usually sub in 1/4 whole wheat flour in cakes/cookies/etc, but I recently made some pecan bars with a partially whole wheat shortbread base and while the topping was tasty, the base was kind of eh. I've had tasty whole wheat donuts, but they were something altogether else from the standard model.

You know what's good? Potato flour is good.
posted by Frowner at 9:03 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, how do I find these boutique varieties of flour? Is it possible for consumers to get any?

Once upon a time my local California farmer's market had a table with someone selling local California flour which was clearly borderline insane. I bought a bag and it was fine but I didn't see them very often and I haven't seen them again for over a year now... so anyway, I guess the answer is maybe?

And as for white bread, sourdough rules. It's one of the best things about being in the SF bay area - you get sourdough everywhere. It's not always totally amazing, but it's always better than plain white bread.
posted by GuyZero at 9:05 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hipster establishment idea: a bakery called "BREAD LAB" where you pick your wheat, your milling type, your bread shape, and your crust, and they make a custom loaf of bread for you.

If you cut down on the number of possible combinations, there could be some economies of scale. Also could be a Blue Apron-style bread subscription service.

The same basic idea is being done with beer brewing. Some home brew supply stores offer services where people can come in, select a mix of grains, hops, brewing process, etc, and make up a batch of beer. It allows experimentation without having to invest in a bunch of equipment and ingredients.
posted by jedicus at 9:06 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's also strange to me that when it comes to bread, White Flour is the devil. But the same criticism doesn't generally apply to rolls, pastries, croissant, donuts, pie crusts, pretzels, pasta, and so on.
posted by Think_Long at 9:07 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


miyabo: "Hipster establishment idea: a bakery called "BREAD LAB" where you pick your wheat, your milling type, your bread shape, and your crust, and they make a custom loaf of bread for you."

`Bespoke loaves starting at $12.83. What's your bread story?'
posted by boo_radley at 9:10 AM on November 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Are you guys all using mass produced dried yeast for your fancy bread, or do you also maintain your own yeast cultures in wet form?
posted by indubitable at 9:11 AM on November 10, 2015


I have tried twice to keep a sourdough starter alive but cannot freakin' remember to feed the damn thing so I use dried yeast when making home loaves.
posted by Kitteh at 9:12 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sourdough's not my thing, but a poolish that goes for 15 hours imparts a helluva lot of flavor to my loaves.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:19 AM on November 10, 2015


I have tried twice to keep a sourdough starter alive but cannot freakin' remember to feed the damn thing so I use dried yeast when making home loaves.

For occasional sourdough makers, I recommend trying dried sourdough starter. You still need to revive it a day or two in advance, but it keeps indefinitely, makes more than one batch, and you can make your own dried starter when you're done.
posted by jedicus at 9:21 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Are you guys all using mass produced dried yeast for your fancy bread, or do you also maintain your own yeast cultures in wet form?"

After moving from Germany to the US I was quite confused when I couldn't find fresh yeast in any supermarket. And the people there looked at me like I was crazy when I would ask them where they kept it.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:24 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


A man who can walk into any kitchen in the world and make bread is COMPLETELY RAW!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:25 AM on November 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's also strange to me that when it comes to bread, White Flour is the devil. But the same criticism doesn't generally apply to rolls, pastries, croissant, donuts, pie crusts, pretzels, pasta, and so on.

Whole wheat pasta can be okay. A lot of the other examples you mention are pastries, though (pastries, croissants, donuts, and pie crusts). I don't think there's much argument that a flour that is basically pure starch is a good choice for something that is meant to be sweet, rich, and mainly act as a carrier for other flavors (butter, sugar, pie filling, etc). Pretzel dough is also heavy on butter, and then there's the salt; some would even call it a pastry. But for bread, when the only ingredients are flour, water, salt, and maybe a little oil, the flour has to do more work.
posted by jedicus at 9:25 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


A fair point.
posted by Think_Long at 9:27 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hipster establishment idea: a bakery called "BREAD LAB"

Eh---there are lots of bakeries doing artisanal baking. To offer a truly niche, authentic experience, you want to start a bespoke bread (and pastry) slicing business, with authentic Japanese slicers working in the shop window (e.g. they only use single-bevel knives sharpened to a precise edge at a 20° bevel. A minimum apprenticeship of 5 years in a Japanese pâtisserie should be enough to get started).
posted by bonehead at 9:29 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love that Terence Malick's great "Days of Heaven" had such an influence on Jones. Truly beautiful flick in every way.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 9:30 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pretzel dough is also heavy on butter

Wha? I don't think we're eating the same pretzels.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:33 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The one thing I hate about buying bread at the supermarket is the self-serve slicers. Every single time I use it it either smushes half the loaf, loses slices in the blade slot or otherwise ruins it and I end up with a bag full of random slices. I stick around to watch other people use it and it never turns out great for them either. Why do they have these things?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:40 AM on November 10, 2015


I don't have a lot of bread options in Greater Rednecklandia (supermarkets are the Giant Eagle and the Weis, no wegman's or whole paycheck in sight) but I do have an amazing number of flour/grain options including unmilled wheat, spelt, and rye that I can buy in, like, two pound amounts to take home and grind myself. (I have a hand-powered grain mill with adjustable burrs. It does fine for batch-size small amounts of whole-grain flour but I wouldn't want to run a bakery using it.)

A couple of years back, I wanted to learn to bake proper sourdough at home. I read a bunch of stuff on the internet and I bought a couple of books and I fussed around with my technique until I had something that worked for me. Here's what I do...

Makes two boules.

200 g starter (I use whole rye flour and water in amounts that make something slightly thicker than drywall paste and I don't measure it. I just eyeball it. Starter is about two years old and it's my own. It lives in the fridge and I refresh it at least twice a month even if I'm not baking bread.)

Add

700 g lukewarm water
900 g white flour (king arthur bread flour is fine)
100 g whole rye flour (I like rye. Whole wheat is OK, but rye is delicious.)

wait 30 minutes

Add 50 g warm water with 20 g salt dissolved into it. Work this into dough with your hands. Dough will look "alarmingly wet" to folks used to kneaded doughs. Let dough rest 30 min, then follow four fold path, every 1/2 hour until you've done that six times.

When it would be the 7th time, evaluate dough. If ready (You just have to do this until you know what 'ready' looks like. Get a couple of books. Practice.) then you divide in 2 and shape loaves, put them in proofing baskets (mixing bowls lined with parchment paper), cover with cloth, let rise up until done. (If not ready, continue with four fold path until ready.) Rise time depends on how warm your house is, how active yeast is, blah blah. If it's about 2x the size you started with and you poke it with finger and it bounces back a little but not much, you're probably good.

Preheat oven to 450 when dough is about an hour from being done. Put huge cast-iron skillet in there to be your heat sink and baking surface. You also need a big stainless steel mixing bowl that fits down inside the cast iron skillet and kind of "seals" it... but don't preheat that. It's nice if you have welding gloves to handle stuff because the skillet is big and heavy and weenie potholders don't really work well.

When dough is ready to be baked, open oven. Slide huge cast iron skillet out onto oven door. Take corners of parchment paper and lift dough out of mixing bowl it rose in, put whole thing (dough, parchment paper) down in skillet. Slash top of bread with razor if you want. Put one ice cube in skillet, directly on metal. Plop stainless steel bowl upside down over everything, so that it's like a cover, and shove assembly back in oven for 20 minutes.

At the twenty minute mark, take stainless steel bowl off bread. Reduce oven temp to 400. Give bread another ten to fifteen minutes (depending on how brown you like it). When done, remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting.

Repeat for other loaf.

This works well for me. I've upped the percentage of whole-grain and it makes the loaves heavier. I've dropped the percentage of whole grain and the loaves are fluffier but less tasty to me. My fake "steam-injected commercial oven" process has been through several modifications to get the results I want... but now my bread has oven spring and nice holes and great texture/taste and a crispity crust.

There is a learning curve involved here and good bread is not typically fast. I'm not sure that most folks have the time/leisure to invest in artisan sourdough on a regular basis. Hell, I don't have time for it more than about once a month and I really, really like bread and know I'm going to turn out a lovely product.
posted by which_chick at 9:41 AM on November 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


you should see what goes into some high end high ratio pastry doughs

It's also how granulated sugar and orange juice is made. OJ's process is particularly heinous.


I'd kind of like to see some scary links to go with these "You should see how what goes into X or how Y is made" comments.
posted by straight at 9:45 AM on November 10, 2015


Pretzel dough is also heavy on butter

Wha? I don't think we're eating the same pretzels.


My usual pretzel recipe has like a couple Tbsp butter per pound of flour. I am including it here for the sake of SCIENCE (and also because i'm making some today)

Pretzel recipe:

28 oz bread flour (plus excess for shaping dough)
1 Tbsp salt
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp breadmachine yeast
4 Tbsp butter, melted

1 quart water
2 Tbsp liquid lye OR 1/4 cup baking soda

1. In bowl or measuring cup, mix water, sugar, and yeast and let sit 5 minutes.
2. in large bowl, mix flour and salt.
3. Pour water/yeast mixture into flour bowl, mix until dough is formed
4. Mix in melted butter
5. Knead or run on bread hook for at least five minutes.
6. Let rise in a warm place for at least one hour.
7. On a pile of flour, roll/stretch dough into long rope; cut the short way every half-inch to make little discs
8. put discs on baking sheet, let sit in fridge or freezer for 20 min to dry out and firm up.
9. Preheat oven to 375, then mix the lye into the quart of water in a big bowl.
10. Using rubber gloves, dip each doughnut into lye/water mixture for fifteen seconds, then place on greased baking pan (or a pan lined with parchment paper)
11. sprinkle sea salt / kosher salt onto all pretzels
12. Bake at 375 for 20-25 min, turning once halfway through

posted by Greg Nog at 9:48 AM on November 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


"Pretzel dough is also heavy on butter"

Wha? I don't think we're eating the same pretzels.


That's entirely possible. This is my usual recipe, and here's a similar one from the NYT. Both are for soft pretzels made with lye, and I will admit there's not as much butter as I remembered. It's easy enough to find recipes that don't include any butter, and presumably that's what you're used to (which is fine, obviously).
posted by jedicus at 9:49 AM on November 10, 2015


Ah, yeah, I wouldn't think of that much butter as "heavy," so ... I think we're eating more-or-less the same pretzels. Although depending on how soon I plan on eating them, I might skip the fat entirely and just make (more-or-less) salt bagels in a baking soda / lye bath.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:53 AM on November 10, 2015


I'd kind of like to see some scary links to go with these "You should see how what goes into X or how Y is made" comments.

I don't know about 'scary', but here's a book on dairy science that explains how milk is manufactured. Evidently there are now combination clarifier-separator-standardizers that keep the skim milk and cream together, but the approach I mentioned is still in use.

I know less about orange juice, but the answer to this Cooking Stack Exchange question seems to be a good overview. Most commercial orange juice is pretty heavily processed in order to ensure a consistent, appealing product.

The same kind of thing crops up over and over again in commodity agriculture: purification, standardization, homogenization, stabilization. It has its upsides: consumers get an affordable, consistent product. It has its downsides: everything is the same, and producers have no incentive to grow anything but the most productive, cost-effective varieties, since their output gets mixed with and treated the same as everyone else's.
posted by jedicus at 10:00 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, how do I find these boutique varieties of flour? Is it possible for consumers to get any?

There are not many advantages to living in the middle of a grain-growing area, but this is sure one. My favourite local farm sells me hard red wheat flour (protein-intensive for breads), soft white wheat flour (less protein-intensive, for cakes and pastries), rye flour (yum), einkorn flour (nutty-tasting and tremendous alongside assertive flavours like dark chocolate or whisky; I have been using it in cookies or other sweet things where lightness of crumb is not required), etc. More expensive than grocery store flours, but not so expensive that I start feeling like it's the kind of hobby that needs to make an income to justify itself. which_chick's bread recipe is essentially a description of my weekend schedule all winter long.
posted by there's no crying in espionage at 10:00 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


He grew it on a five-acre student plot along with beans and even a bit of marijuana for good measure.
posted by bq at 10:04 AM on November 10, 2015


I've been making sandwich bread at home since I realized we were spending $100 monthly on bread, because 4 people eating bread for two meals a day is a lot of dough, and I can't bring myself to buy the cheap stuff.

I use the 'Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day' method. It is super easy! I keep trying to figure out how to make whole wheat bread palatable to the picky eater, but he can detect even small proportions of white whole wheat.

I may have to adopt a dual loaf strategy.
posted by bq at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am always shocked when I come across adults who eat commercial white bread.

I take pride that my daughter (just turned 11 the day before yesterday) has almost never had store-bought bread in our house, and never mass-produced white bread loaves. I've made our family a loaf of bread roughly every week to week-and-a-half, as well as bagels, pretzels, and other things.

I've set a high bar for her future husband.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Interesting. Raised in the Great Depression, my elderly, Southern American family members all spoke of store-bought sliced bread as being a delicacy, something akin to cake.

Wholly apart from the merits of OP's article, you sort of do have to appreciate its consistency, texture, and unique flavors and what a difference there was between that and the likely widely-varying qualities of the homemade breads of that era (again, apart from the milled flour issues raised in the article). I mean, we say "greatest thing since sliced bread" for a reason.
posted by resurrexit at 10:27 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


4 people eating bread for two meals a day is a lot of dough

I see what you did there.
posted by jedicus at 10:27 AM on November 10, 2015


As for the wheat cultivars discussed in the main article: I'm all for crop diversity and interesting bread, but there wasn't much discussion of cost efficiency. How productive are these cultivars? How disease resistant are they? Their ultimate success in the market may depend a lot on those factors. I like making good bread, but even as a culinary history nerd I'd be hard pressed to pay $20 for a pound of flour.

A lot of the problem with modern wheat cultivars is that they have been bred primarily for growing in Kansas at an industrial scale and baking at an industrial scale. The heirloom varieties, while they may not yield as well as some of the modern varieties, are actually more tolerant of the higher humidity and cooler temperatures of the northwest and northeast. They also tend to have a more variable protein content, which means more recipe tweaking in the bakery, but not necessarily bad bread.

The Bread Lab gets a lot of attention and is definitely at the forefront, but there are similar regional grain programs all up and down the eastern half of the US, too. Dave Bauer at Farm & Sparrow in North Carolina is essentially running a one man seed library for heirloom wheat and corn varieties. Greenmarket Regional Grains Project in NYC is partnered with a variety of organizations to re-establish a regional grain economy in the northeast. Farmer Ground Flour is growing and milling great flour in New York state, as is Maine Grains up north.
posted by clockwork at 10:30 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am always shocked when I come across adults who eat commercial white bread.

The only reason I do is because I have found precisely one company that makes loaves of bread that are a) small enough for a single person to get through at the rate I eat bread, and b) shelf-stable enough that they don't start growing mold after only two days.

I've tried the artisinal organic stuff, really, I have. And I make maybe two sandwiches over the course of three days before it's gone stale or moldy and I have to throw the lot out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:33 AM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I take pride that my daughter (just turned 11 the day before yesterday) has almost never had store-bought bread in our house, and never mass-produced white bread loaves. I've made our family a loaf of bread roughly every week to week-and-a-half, as well as bagels, pretzels, and other things.

And then she will go to college and eat a lot of wonder bread and most of your work will be undone. And then sometime in her mid-thirties she'll revert eating only homemade bread and your work will not have been in vain.
posted by GuyZero at 10:42 AM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


A loaf of basic white bread lasts me a week unless someone else decides to make sandwiches. I have 2 skippy peanut butter sandwiches, a can of dole pineapple chunks and some fruit snacks for lunch every day. It can't be healthy, but it is cheap, and I've grown to like it.
posted by MikeWarot at 10:47 AM on November 10, 2015


The only reason I do is because I have found precisely one company that makes loaves of bread that are a) small enough for a single person to get through at the rate I eat bread, and b) shelf-stable enough that they don't start growing mold after only two days.

You could try some traditional pumpernickel (don't actually order it from Amazon unless you need a 6 pack; it's just to show what it looks like). It usually has a shelf life of 2-3 months. You have to like pumpernickel, though, but personally I think it's delicious with a little butter and cheese or a slice of cured sausage.
posted by jedicus at 10:49 AM on November 10, 2015


shelf-stable enough that they don't start growing mold after only two days

but the fridge, it's a thing
posted by poffin boffin at 10:49 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


shelf-stable enough that they don't start growing mold after only two days.

Sounds like you need to stock up on the cockroach of the baked goods universe.
posted by aeshnid at 10:58 AM on November 10, 2015


Unfortunately putting bread in the fridge will cause it to go stale more quickly though it can be reconstituted through reheating provided moisture wasn't allowed to escape.

"So here's my practical advice. In lieu of acts of god and any other kind of divine intervention, the best way to store bread is well wrapped in plastic and/or foil in the freezer, whether sliced or not, then reheated in the oven. If you don't want to deal with reheating the bread, wrap it well in plastic and/or foil and keep it at room temperature; it won't be as good the next day, and it will only get worse from there, but you should be able to eke some extra life out of your bread before it's no longer enjoyable. And if you do let it sit for too long (or if you make the mistake of refrigerating your bread), pop it in the oven and you should be able to reverse a fair amount of the staling, assuming you had it wrapped well enough to prevent drying. Now that really is squeezing water from a stone."
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:59 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: It's nice if you have welding gloves
posted by sammyo at 11:02 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've tried the artisinal organic stuff, really, I have. And I make maybe two sandwiches over the course of three days before it's gone stale or moldy and I have to throw the lot out.

I've found that sourdoughs are much more resistant to mold, if you're into that kind of thing. Not much help against going stale, though.
posted by indubitable at 11:02 AM on November 10, 2015


Just love me a loaf of multi-grain, when I can find a bakery that does one that's tasty good but not too pretentious.

Then there's the seriously expensive $6-8 for a small loaf that's just almost too beautiful to cut into and then is virtually hollow with giant artisan air bubbles. Can't remember the taste of wonder bread but what hope is there in the world if even in the lowly bread we can't find a reasonable balance??
posted by sammyo at 11:08 AM on November 10, 2015


As per the article I linked above: seal and freeze your bread, then reheat as needed. It'll be good as new.

We've been doing that for a long time and it works as advertised.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:09 AM on November 10, 2015


"So here's my practical advice. In lieu of acts of god and any other kind of divine intervention, the best way to store bread is well wrapped in plastic and/or foil in the freezer, whether sliced or not, then reheated in the oven. If you don't want to deal with reheating the bread, wrap it well in plastic and/or foil and keep it at room temperature; it won't be as good the next day, and it will only get worse from there, but you should be able to eke some extra life out of your bread before it's no longer enjoyable. And if you do let it sit for too long (or if you make the mistake of refrigerating your bread), pop it in the oven and you should be able to reverse a fair amount of the staling, assuming you had it wrapped well enough to prevent drying. Now that really is squeezing water from a stone."

See, this is one of the things where I feel like I don't even live on the same planet as this person.

I got some really good rye bread (for the first time ever in Minneapolis, hooray!) and it sat on the counter in a plastic bag all week, and it was good down to the last little lamented slice. And actually that last lamented slice was probably about eight days out because I put off finishing it because I didn't want it to be gone. And don't think that this was some grocery store bread loaded with preservatives - it was perfectly traditional locally made rye bread.

I almost think that a sensibility so refined that you can't enjoy anything except the very finest, most carefully made and perfectly stored food is a curse more than a blessing. I got to eat a whole loaf of delicious rye and enjoyed it; the writer would have found it horribly deteriorated, or else would have had to spend a lot of time heating it in the oven every day. (And I don't even think rye is especially good warmed.)
posted by Frowner at 11:17 AM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Damn, I grew up in a family that basically only bought white bread. My mom started making her own bread when I was 16 or so and by that time I had had other breads, but still, I wasn't accustomed to much besides white bread. I remember how excited I was when Jack In The Box first came out with a sandwich on ciabatta. That sounds really sad in retrospect, but that's how it went for me.

There are some great bakeries in Portland, but even at places like New Seasons or even Whole Foods I can't seem to find any real good, quality, tasty bread. Grand Central Bakery isn't quite up my alley, I don't know why. Does anyone know of some good bakeries here for bread specifically? I definitely know of some but they're slipping my mind right now.
posted by gucci mane at 11:31 AM on November 10, 2015


aught, it's probably because they like the taste of generic white bread then. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I like the taste of chocolate, which is why I've decided to replace all my wheat consumption with it instead.
posted by Dalby at 11:42 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am happy to see this article because it suggests that the gluten-free thing is going to return to being a thing only for people who have various wheat-related health/medical concerns rather than a vague source of virtue-feelings for all ...

I'd like to believe this -- and speaking as a celiac disease sufferer whom one of the downstream consequences of CD almost killed, words alone could never express how much I miss the infinite variety of flavors and textures of wheat-based foods (even when a bit stale) -- but I'm afraid wheat has some very nasty tricks up its sheaves which it has only begun to play on us.

An elegant and very clever study* out of the Mayo Clinic, for example, has revealed that
The prevalence of celiac disease appears to be rising dramatically. Joseph Murray, M.D., a Mayo gastroenterologist, says celiac disease is becoming a public health issue. Studies show four times the incidence compared to 1950, with fatal complications if it goes untreated.

"Celiac disease was rare, but it's now more common in all age groups," Dr. Murray says. Although the cause is unknown, celiac disease affects about one in 100 people. What's more, Mayo has found a fourfold higher death risk for people with undiagnosed gluten intolerance.

[*Interestingly, the original link to this story on the Mayo clinic web site is broken, and I couldn't find it there at all -- hence the Google cache.]

And there appears to be a lot of room for the prevalence to rise further:
Unresolved questions relevant to a complete understanding of immune responses to gluten are: Why is the rate of late onset gluten sensitivity rapidly rising? Is this truly a wheat problem, or something that is being done to wheat, or to those who are eating wheat (for example, communicable diseases a trigger? Some individuals are susceptible by genetics (early onset), but many late onset cases could have different triggers because there is nothing genetically separating the 30 to 40% of people that could have Triticeae sensitivity from the ~1% that, in their lifetime, will have some level of this disease.
posted by jamjam at 11:59 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can reliably get home-ground all-whole-wheat buttermilk bread to rise high and fluffy, with that ellipsoidal crown over the pan and tender enough that the loaf squashes if sliced while hot.
Baguettes are doable with, oh, 1/6 of the flour a French or Italian bread flour, which come to think I find helpful in white-flour baguettes too. And people eat my whole wheat pastry flour pie crusts without apparent complaint, but it's pie.

I am fond of the hypothesis that modern bread isn't being fermented long enough to be optimal for most people. We outsource lots of our digestion anyway, why not here? And the long, long, long rise traditional breads of North Europe are the ones that keep for a week (in traditional N Eu interior climates, anyway; warm humidity probably doesn't help).

I liked the idea that regionally adapted grain makes crop rotation much more commercially feasible. Cheap but erosive isn't cheap.
posted by clew at 12:09 PM on November 10, 2015


oooh are we doing recipes? here's what I do for baguettes/rustic loaves/whatever

7 g kosher salt
4 g granulated sugar
382 g purified water
480 g bread flour
16 g wheat germ
7 g active dry yeast

It's super wet. You'll freak. Let it rise for an hour, punch it down. Shape it into cylinders (they'll flatten out). Bake at 375 with a pan of water placed in the bottom of the oven.

Feel free to change up the baking, rising, etc. instructions a little bit. You'll get something that's super tasty any way you do it.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:37 PM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I like the taste of chocolate, which is why I've decided to replace all my wheat consumption with it instead.

That must be one damned interesting grilled cheese you make.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:05 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I bought a mill a couple of years ago, and have spent a fair amount of time playing around with different grains. Spelt, einkorn, hard red and white wheats, even some of the heritage wheats that are becoming available. So far, for bread, my favorite is hard white winter wheat -- it has a nice flavor, lots of protein, and is readily available via mail order. Hard red wheat has an almost cardboard-like flavor to me, mostly due to the additional tannins as I understand it, but many like it. Bread made with freshly ground whole wheat flour is significantly different from most store-bought bread, much more flavorful and with different textures.
posted by Blackanvil at 1:25 PM on November 10, 2015


I am always shocked when I come across adults who eat commercial white bread.

My eyes rolled so hard I detached a retina.
posted by markr at 1:35 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I take pride that my daughter (just turned 11 the day before yesterday) has almost never had store-bought bread in our house, and never mass-produced white bread loaves. I've made our family a loaf of bread roughly every week to week-and-a-half, as well as bagels, pretzels, and other things.

I've set a high bar for her future husband.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:24 PM on November 10 [2 favorites +] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:44 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


You have to like pumpernickel, though

I see a problem there.

Also - you know why pumpernickel is called that? The name is German, and can be loosely translated to "devil fart". And it was named that because it had the reputation of being so tough to digest that it would indeed make the Devil fart. I'm a bit uneasy about the impact on my own digestion as a result.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:50 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Yes, for the record, I've tried pumpernickel as a kid; while I don't remember whether there were any aftereffects, I do remember not being all that impressed.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:51 PM on November 10, 2015


I make bread using whole wheat flour and the spent grain leftover from my beer making, and it is fan-damn-tastic.
posted by xedrik at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2015


I grew up thinking that the bread at Outback Steakhouse was authentic pumpernickel. Turns out it's not, and while still good, true pumpernickel is garbage compared to the ol' Outback bread log thing.
posted by Think_Long at 2:20 PM on November 10, 2015


The perfect bread for one person: those mini pretzel loaves at Trader Joe's

The perfect Insufferable Hipster Grilled Cheese: Trader Joe's mini pretzel loaf, Trader Joe's truffle cheddar, tomatoes.
posted by ostro at 2:35 PM on November 10, 2015


Wish I had an insufferable grilled cheese.
posted by Frowner at 2:38 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


you just have to believe in yourself
posted by poffin boffin at 2:41 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, feel confident that despite yesterday's ontological nihilism stuff, I do believe in myself. It's the grilled cheese I'm having trouble believing in.

I'm visualizing it clearly and everything.
posted by Frowner at 2:46 PM on November 10, 2015


Is there empirical evidence available for the claim that "industrial production destroyed...the nutritional value of wheat"? In what respects are modern flours and breads worse than the historical product? And to what extent does this matter in different environmental and socioeconomic settings? It feels like one of those things that needs a lot of unpacking to actually allow us to make good policy decisions about, rather than something that should form the basis of a highly class-inflected cultural crusade.

I read a very interesting book last year about food production in WW2 and how the major economies managed to continue to feed themselves and their armies, and at least a whole chapter was devoted to the issue that the UK working class populace had over the past 50 - 100 years converted entirely to white bread, and this was a big issue for them.

With the sub threat in '41, wheat shipments to the UK were at a premium. The idea that whole wheat would be shipped to the UK, and then 1/3 of the shipment (the bran and endosperm) would essentially be thrown out (or fed inefficiently to livestock), to create a less healthy product, was quite abhorrent to war planners. But the working class, who really needed the energy and nutrition, insisted on white bread, utterly hated brown bread and pretty much refused to buy it, despite major propaganda campaigns. This was a big issue in keeping a population well fed during the sub crisis.

Germany on the other hand, for a range of reasons had retained a lot of domestic production and consumption of both brown bread and rye bread. The Wehrmacht were far more able to just give their troops brown bread without complaint and with far more embedded nutrition. While the wheat fields of the Ukraine were a prize, Germany retained self-sufficiency in this staple through until the dark days of '45.
posted by wilful at 3:48 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods

(Milled wheat at the base of the American Dietetic Association's food pyramid is kinda weird.)
posted by bukvich at 5:09 PM on November 10, 2015


National Bread! The family in Back in Time for Dinner were so happy when they could stop eating it.

I'm sure I've read some book that was all about the benefits of dietary roughage that claimed a new 19C fine-milling process has had devastating effects on health. The guy claimed before the invention even white bread was full of healthy fibre and vitamins. It was one of my mum's books, so dating from the 70's, when these sorts of concerns would have been thought of as 'cranky'.
posted by glasseyes at 5:22 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Back in Time For Dinner was a really nice series in which a family progressed one day at a time through a culinary decade in a week, going from the 50's to the future. That fortified, slab-like, scratchy wholemeal bread was one of the worst things they found themselves eating.
posted by glasseyes at 5:28 PM on November 10, 2015


I get bread twice a week from a baker who uses einkorn, kamut, spelt, rye and buckwheat. It is delicious.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:50 PM on November 10, 2015


I am in the middle of a wheat growing region, but the only bread available in town is just variations on crappy industrial product. I eat it for sandwiches, but without any pleasure. Strangely there are plenty of ancient grains and hipster flour for sale in the supermarket, but the bread options have not caught up.

The only reason I do is because I have found precisely one company that makes loaves of bread that are a) small enough for a single person to get through at the rate I eat bread, and b) shelf-stable enough that they don't start growing mold after only two days.

It might just be the local climate here, but I find bread goes stale extremely quickly if it is out at room temperature. As long as the bread is sliced, just put it in the freezer (in a plastic bag, of course) and take out a slice or two as needed. It's not as gourmet as eating fresh bread straight from the oven, but if it is store-bought bread it isn't going to be all that gourmet anyway.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:29 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


His description of steel rollers, and how this invention allowed flour mills to easily discard the bran and germ to make easily transported, low-nutrition white flour matches what I had read years ago that in the US and in England, the switch to this new fangled white bread caused massive malnutrition problems, which quickly lead to laws about adding the nutrition back in. But did they add all the nutrients back in, or just the ones that are documented?

Breads like Wonder Bread actually made advertisements about how good their bread is because of all the nutrients they add to it "Wonder Bread helps build strong bodies 12 ways!"

Next time you are in the supermarket take a look at the nutrients of white and whole wheat bread. You won't see the added nutrients on the whole wheat breads, because they don't need to add nutrients. The whole wheat has them built in.

Because of the history that I had read, I switched to bread made of wheat that isn't made into flour--I use Alvarado Bakery, but there are several brands, at Costco and Trader Joes among other places.

It is amazing how widespread this empty white wheat has spread throughout the culture--bread, bagels, buns, pizza, cakes, cookies, pastas--just about everything with wheat is made with it. And more and more evidence is showing just how much it hurts our health to eat these simple carbohydrates. I wonder if cultural changes will ever lead to the abandonment of white flour. No doubt it will be long after we are gone.
posted by eye of newt at 9:03 PM on November 10, 2015


As for the wheat cultivars discussed in the main article: I'm all for crop diversity and interesting bread, but there wasn't much discussion of cost efficiency. How productive are these cultivars? How disease resistant are they? Their ultimate success in the market may depend a lot on those factors. I like making good bread, but even as a culinary history nerd I'd be hard pressed to pay $20 for a pound of flour.

Well, it certainly costs more. But flour is so darn cheap to start with that even a lot more is still not very much. The cheapest possible white flour I could buy is about $1/kg on the commercial scale. The fancy heirloom, organic, stone ground whole grain flour is about $2.25/kg and that's for what I've found is the best bread flour in Western Canada. This increases the cost of a large loaf of bread by about $0.63.

Good flour is a very affordable luxury.
posted by ssg at 9:08 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like storebought white bread, although I do get the whole grain white without HFCS. It has more fiber than ordinary whole wheat bread.

I despise whole wheat. It has the taste of dirt. (I was a kid once.) Whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, and especially whole wheat pasta. All of this is -- IMHO -- disgusting.

Just leavening the conversation a bit.
posted by bryon at 9:19 PM on November 10, 2015


Being towards the end of a largely sleepless night caused by severe stomach bloating, and being as yesterday evening I ate nothing but some well cooked and very tasty leftover stew - with which I have been fine and which is probably not the problem - together with a large slice of newly bought "sourdough" from a large UK supermarket chain that shall remain unnamed but which rhymes with 'ainsburys', I have been idly browsing links on the (UK) Campaign For Real Bread website such as this article on whether you think that supermarket sourdough is really sourdough or whether you agree that some UK supermarkets actually put all kinds of crap in it that no-one would ever do with real sourdough and that this is not ok.

I don't think I've ever had real sourdough.
posted by motty at 10:44 PM on November 10, 2015


In my area, there are a few places that bake bread using local wheat. Hungry Ghost was among the first and they have very, very good bread. Unfortunately, with a child with celiac disease who also has cognitive delays (for a year, she would declare things gluten-free if she really wanted to eat them), it was best not to bring it home at all. Now, we can have it once in a while (I mean, not her obviously, unless we wanted to live in a sea of diarrhea) because my daughter has finally reached the point where she will approach the freebies at Trader Joe's asking, "is gluten or gluten-free?"
posted by plinth at 2:49 AM on November 11, 2015


Quebec really does have a lot of their European cousins attitude towards food: good bread, good cheese, etc. Their red wine is still shit, though.

Yes, Quebec gets this about food. Rest of Canada? Less so. But regarding their wine. They just don't have the right climate for it. At least not grape wine. Maybe there is a micro climate somewhere in Quebec that'd produce decent wines. Their climate is perfectly awesome for beer though which they do well.

As for flour, I get a white flour that's a pretty close approximation to flour that's used for French baguettes from Quebec. Forget what its called. For whole wheat, despite the hype about it, I really like Red Fife. My usual loaf is a overnight poolish of half Red Fife / locally milled White or the Quebec stuff mixed in with some grains/nuts/seeds that have been slightly fermented for better digestibility. Smear some Nutella on it and it is awesome.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:52 AM on November 11, 2015


But regarding their wine. They just don't have the right climate for it.

They do very good roses and whites, actually. There is a really lovely wine festival in Magog every September we used to go to. Also, they make pretty fantastic ciders--fizzy and flat.
posted by Kitteh at 8:15 AM on November 11, 2015


Ah! Haven't had the whites or rosés, as I generally don't drink them, but I'll have a look. And yes, I completely forgot about their ciders which, at least the one's I've tried, have been excellent
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:17 AM on November 11, 2015


Good flour is a very affordable luxury.

You're probably right about this particular flour, but there are flours that are much more expensive than $2.25/kg. Teff from Bob's Red Mill, for example, is 7 USD/kg. That's pretty pricey.
posted by jedicus at 11:48 AM on November 11, 2015


Sure, there will always be more expensive versions of things. Bob's Red Mill is definitely not an affordable source for flour and teff definitely does not cost anywhere near $7/kg to grow. I suspect the fact that teff doesn't contain gluten has much more to do with that price point than production costs.

My point is that the worry about efficiency related to crop yields, disease resistance, etc for non-standard wheat is not a big deal. It costs a little more to grow heirloom varieties, to grow organic, and to stone grind, but even all those things put together still don't have to make good flour too expensive to use.
posted by ssg at 12:36 PM on November 11, 2015


I'd be surprised if teff can be processed with standard wheat equipment, it's so different in size and shape.

Reiterating one of the points in the article - farmers in that valley were already growing a grain rotation for soil/pest reasons, but it was an economic loss because our common wheat is optimized for the prairies. Making the grain rotation a people-food crop makes the rest of the produce from that valley cheaper (maybe at the market, maybe in forestalled environmental damage). Harnessing foodie delight in variety and terroir is a better means than an end, IMO.
posted by clew at 12:49 PM on November 11, 2015


Ah! Haven't had the whites or rosés, as I generally don't drink them, but I'll have a look.

Going for these options in climates with cooler/shorter summers is often the way to find some really surprisingly good drinks. Including, even, good English wine. I shit you not.
posted by howfar at 5:06 PM on November 11, 2015


ostro: "Trader Joe's mini pretzel loaf"

This isn't parsing for me. So is it a loaf of bread made with pretzel dough? Where does the mini come in, mini loaf or mini pretzel dough? And if the latter what differentiates mini pretzel dough from regular pretzel dough?
posted by Mitheral at 9:14 PM on November 12, 2015


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