What is white wheat and why would you care?
White wheat isn’t just processed white flour. It’s a 100 percent whole wheat variety that is lighter in color than the typical red wheat we’re used to. The Whole Grains Council says we can think of it “as sort of albino wheat” because its genes for bran differ from standard red wheat. White wheat also has a less intense flavor than typical red wheat flour.
White wheat has gained popularity over the past 10 years or so because when it’s used to bake bread, the finished loaf has an amber color, which is more appealing to some people. In baked goods, white wheat gives a lighter texture and color.
Photo by Loretta Sorensen
I use white wheat in my bread baking for the lighter, less coarse loaf it produces. It’s the only wheat flour I use in my Ezekiel bread because it results in a more fluffy, tender loaf than red wheat flour.
White wheat flour and white wheat berries are showing up on more and more grocery store shelves, which means it’s easy to add it to your pantry. Depending on the brand, the cost of white wheat flour is very comparable to red wheat.
To store white wheat flour or berries, follow all the recommendations for any whole grain or whole grain flour: keep it in the freezer to retain its freshness and quality for a long period of time – a year or more. It can also be stored in the refrigerator for a short time or in the cupboard on a short-term basis.
When it comes to using white wheat in your favorite recipes, you can substitute it one-to-one for traditional whole wheat. There’s no difference in how it works in your bread dough.
While white wheat flour works very well in bread recipes, it can also be used as a substitute in any type of recipe that calls for wheat flour. That includes cookies, bars, muffins, etc. Note that if you’ve previously used processed white flour in your recipes, 100% white whole wheat flour will likely produce a somewhat heavier product.
If you’re happy with regular wheat bread, you may consider substituting a portion of your red wheat flour with white wheat. The result will be a loaf that’s somewhat lighter colored, lighter textured and less intense flavor.
As far as how long a white whole wheat loaf of bread stays fresh, that is also the same as any 100% whole grain bread. I store all my bread in the refrigerator in a bread keeper (because plastic bags can gather moisture and more quickly spoil your loaf). They keep for as long as 14 days.
White wheat can be a great addition to regular whole wheat bread and other whole grains breads such as rye and multi-grain breads. It’s lighter texture and less intense properties may also work very well in making pastries calling for 100% whole grain flour.
The health and nutrition benefits of white wheat flour, says the Whole Grains Council, are considered to be the same as red wheat. “Most nutrition differences among wheat varieties are driven by environmental conditions, such as weather and soil composition. For example, when crops are in a drought, the protein in wheat will be higher . . .”
The Kansas cooperative, Farmer Direct, is comprised of more than 300 producer members who “have been working for almost two decades to grow and popularize white wheat,” which has been a principal Australian commodity for many decades.
Find more of Loretta Sorensen’s recipes, bread baking tips, bread-making videos and her book at Bake Your Best Ever Bread. Her book, Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever! contains recipes and a wealth of baking pointers. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest (Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever).