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Welcome To The
Hard Red Winter Wheat
Flour Test

Disclaimer - Before we get into the test, it's worth mentioning that we are not connected with any flour vendor mentioned on this web site. We can't tell you where to find any of these flours outside our own home town, and we have no idea why the vendor discontinued your favorite flour, or why your favorite recipe is no longer on the back of the package. And now... here's the review of this flour.....

Where we bought it: We didn't. It was donated to our church's food pantry, and we felt we should try it out before giving it to our clients. Our overall goal is to never give something to our clients that we wouldn't feed our family.

What we paid for it: We didn't, but if you did it would be $10.95 list price plus shipping for 5 1/2 pounds.

Protein content: 11%

Interesting Vendor Story: Nitro-Pak specializes in the Mormon market. It is my understanding that all Mormons are (asked? required?) to keep a year's supply of food on hand for all their family members. In times of crisis, this can be extended to cover more years. When people were panicking about the Y2K crisis, these companies did a land-office business. Each can of the un-ground grain is packed in nitrogen, and has an oxygen absorber pouch. It is supposed to last up to 25 years. (This grain was purchased by someone concerned about Y2K, and then donated to the food pantry.)

Our first impressions: The grain was un ground, so we had to grind it ourselves. I used a KitchenAid Grain Mill. It seemed that the grain was not ground as finely as most commercial flour. Perhaps the results would have been different if we had been able to grind the flour more finely. However, I feel the taste of the flour would be the same even if more finely ground. If someone in the Gunnison, Colorado area has a WhisperMill, or a similar mill, and would like to volunteer to grind another 5 1/2 lb can so I can re-test this flour, please contact me by sending me a mail through our "Contact Us" page.

A followup to the above paragraph, two years later, in November, 2005. We have used up all the Nitrored and Nitrowhite, so I am no longer looking for volunteers. Also, I have since used the grain with two micronizer mills, a NutriMill and a WhisperMill. I used both mills for many batches of breads, and I have to say I am not impressed with the flour they produce. All the recipes the vendors have for flours from these mills call for vital wheat gluten. And, in my opinion, that is because the flours - regardless of the grain used - is inferior to what is produced by an experienced miller in a steel or stone mill. I don't know why it's inferior, I am just judging the results. As a related side note, a baker in the Bread Baker's Guild of America mailing list talked about a small local mill that went from using a stone mill to a large industrial micronizer. After a few weeks it became obvious the miller could either go back to stone grinding or he could lose his customers - the new flour just wasn't as good as the old.

Any special reason we're testing this flour: We want to be sure what anything we give to our clients is wholesome and usable. "If we wouldn't feed it to our family, we won't give it to those we're helping."

How'd we screw up the tests this time? The baking went well. The tasting went well. And then I lost the tasting notes. *sigh* Still, the breads were so spectacularly bad that it isn't really that big an issue.

Conclusions: This flour, at least the way we ground it, is unsuitable for most baking use. There are two problems with the flour. The first problem is that the taste is much too strong. Please understand, we like whole grain breads, and we found it too strong. If Wheat Montana claims their "Prairie Gold" whole wheat flour is the whole wheat flour for people who don't like whole wheat flour, then this is the whole wheat flour for people who can't stand white flour. It's beyond having a rich taste, and into the realm of the overwhelming. The second problem is the coarseness of the grind of the flour. This made it hard to use. We are interested in testing the flour again using a mill that can grind it more finely.

Still, in fairness, this flour is a very a good adjunct to other flours. We added it to a number of white flour breads and pizza crusts, and in all cases the flour added good taste and body to the breads.

The Breads
Nitro-Pak Hard Red Winter Wheat Bread Family

Bohemian Rye The Bohemian Rye was dense, Nitro-Pak Red Hard Winter Wheat Bohemian Rye uninspired, uninspiring, and devoid of rye taste. Nitro-Pak Red Hard Winter Wheat Bohemian Rye

Ciabatta is usually a favorite bread of ours. Nitro-Pak Red Winter Wheat Ciabatta Even when we made it with other whole wheat flours. But, not this time. Sadly. Nitro-Pak Red Winter Wheat Ciabatta Both the taste and the bread were too heavy for us to enjoy.

Sourdough Pan Bread - is usually the recipe that works best Nitro-Pak Hard Red Winter Wheat Simple Sourdough Pan Bread with all flours, largely Nitro-Pak Hard Red Winter Wheat Simple Sourdough Pan Bread because the instructions consider the feel of the dough, rather than just amounts of flour and water. This time was no exception. The bread had a good sour taste, and a decent crumb. The loaf fell a bit as it was put into the oven.

Three stage French bread is once again Nitro-Pak Hard Red White Wheat Three Stage French Bread a case of too dark, too heavy. As with several of the other Nitro-Pak Hard Red White Wheat Three Stage French Bread breads in this test, the bread was turned into crumbs and fed to the birds. The birds enjoyed the crumbs... though they seemed to have had trouble flying afterwards (that was a joke, not a literal description).

Hydration Pictures As discussed, we took pictures at 60, 80, and 100% hydration. The flour handled very strangely, it was wetter than expected at the beginning, and then dryer than expected as more flour was added. At 60% hydration the dough was quite gritty.

Nitro-Pak Hard Red Winter Wheat at 100% hydration
Hard Red Winter Wheat
at 100% hydration
Nitro-Pak Hard Red Winter Wheat at 80% hydration
Hard Red Winter Wheat
at 80% Hydration
Nitro-Pak Hard Red Winter Wheat at 60% hydration
Hard Red Winter Wheat
at 60% hydration