Glossary - Staple Foods

Flour is a powder which is made from grinding cereal grains, other seeds, or roots. It is the main ingredient of bread, which is a staple food for many cultures, making the availability of adequate supplies of flour a major economic and political issue at various times throughout history. Wheat flour is one of the most important foods in European, North American, Middle Eastern and North African cultures, and is the defining ingredient in most of their styles of breads and pastries. Maize flour has been important in Mesoamerican cuisine since ancient times, and remains a staple in much of Latin American cuisine.

Unbleached flour is simply flour that has not undergone bleaching and therefore does not have the color of "white" flour. An example of this would be the Graham flour. Sylvester Graham was against using bleaching agents, as being unhealthy, and John Harvey Kellogg, influenced by Graham, invented the cereal Corn Flakes.   In India, this lour is called "Atta".

Bleached flour

Main articles: Flour bleaching agent and Refined flour

"Bleached flour" is any flour with a whitening agent added and is referred to as Refined flour  In India this flour is called "Maida" or Refined flour.


All-purpose flour

Flour that does not have a leavening agent (typically baking powder) is called all-purpose or plain flour. Cookies are usually prepared using this type of flour.  This is a prepacked commercially available flour which comes in different brands.


Self-rising flour - Commercially pre packed flour in different brands.

Leavening agents are used with some flours, especially those with significant gluten content, to produce lighter and softer baked products by embedding small gas bubbles. Self-raising (or self-rising) flour is sold premixed with chemical leavening agents. It was invented by Henry Jones and patented in 1845. Self-raising flour is typically composed of the following ratio: 

        * 1 cup (100 g) flour
        * 1 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
        * a pinch to ½ teaspoon (1 g or less) salt

Enriched flour
Main article: Enriched flour

During the process of making flour nutrients are lost. Some of these nutrients are replaced during refining and the result is "enriched flour".



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