Welcome To The Nitro-Pak Hard Red Winter Wheat Flour Test
Part of the Big Flour Test
|Please note - 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 have been $10.95 list price plus shipping for 5 1/2 pounds in 2002.
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 whole 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.) A final note - it isn't clear if Nitro-Pak still sells whole grain wheat.
Our first impressions: The grain was whole, so we had to grind, or mill, 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. This was my first foray into home milling, and based on later testing, the KitchenAid grain mill was almost certainly a factor in the flour's poor showing.
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.
Simple Sourdough Pan Bread - is usually the recipe that works best with all flours, largely 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 (or Pain au Levain) is once again a case of too dark, too heavy. As with several of the other 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. (This was written in 2002, now in 2019 I know that whole grains absorb more moisture than refined ones, but do it more slowly. Now, this behavior of the flour is not a surprise. Hindsight is always 20/20!)