A summary of the main types of flour, with and without gluten, and their nutritional properties.
The world of flours, although it may seem somewhat bland and bland like flour itself, it really is not. There are endless varieties of this essential ingredient in every cuisine in this vast and diverse world.
Chickpea flour, beans, potatoes, barley, obviously wheat and even blood! And it is that with practically anything you can prepare this grit that we all have in our kitchens, even if it is to decorate in a pantry.
We are going to see below the most notable types of flours, their nutritional values and how they are classified according to the ingredient used in their preparation.
How many flours are there?
Although it may seem surprising, there are hundreds of different flours and each one has a different purpose. Due to the immensity of cultures that exist on our planet, each one has its own gastronomy and, since flour is a very recurring ingredient in every kitchen that is appreciated, it is not strange to find varieties.
The criteria used to classify the flours take into account different aspects. The most notable is the raw material, that is, what the flour is made of, whether it is a cereal such as wheat, a legume such as lentils or a tuber such as potatoes.
Another aspect that is taken into account is the degree of refinement, that is, if the grains are smaller or thicker. Finally, the percentage of vegetable proteins, the gluten content and the strength of the flour are taken into account, indicated by the letter W.
In European cultures, especially Mediterranean ones, heirs of the Roman triad, wheat flour is used very frequently and, in some cases, other flours also made with cereals. However, thanks to globalization and contact between cultures, other more exotic flours for the West have become popular, allowing the creation of hundreds of new recipes.
The 24 most notable types of flours
Let’s see a classification of the main types of flour used in cooking.
Flours with gluten
Gluten is a small group of proteins found in most cereals. This substance is what gives the bread dough elasticity while it is being made, but it is also the cause of ailments in those people with celiac disease who cannot tolerate it.
Next we will see the main flours that contain this substance.
Wheat is the most widely used cereal to make flour in the West, which is why there are recipes for both sweet and salty foods that use this type of flour as a raw material.
Wheat is a cereal very rich in nutrients, being a source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium, as well as vitamins of group A, B and E. It is also a source of fiber, carbohydrates and protein vegetable.
Wheat flour can be classified according to its strength, which will be used to make one type or another of recipes. First of all, we have the strength flour, whose marking is about 300 W and has a protein percentage of around 13%.
The strength flour is ideal for doughs that need to be kneaded several times and in which many fats and sugars are included, such as roscón de Reyes, panettone and croissants.
In second place, we have the medium strength flour, 250-260 W and with 10% protein. This flour is ideal for doughs that do not include a lot of fat but that require a lot of kneading. Pizzas, cocas and breads are made with it.
Finally, within wheat flours we have loose flour, which has a marking of between 160 and 180 W and around 8-9% protein. It is used in baking, has little gluten and is used in low-fat dough. The loose flour does not require much kneading, and with it you can make muffins, cakes and cookies.
It is used for the preparation of low and dense breads, crackers. Because it has a certain touch of bitterness, it is not widely used in confectionery. It was widely used in the Middle Ages and is currently very present in the gastronomy of the Nordic countries.
Wholegrain rye flour has many nutrients, including calcium, sodium, iodine, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, vitamins E and B, carbohydrates, and fiber.
It is used mainly as a thickener and also to make slightly fluffy breads. It is very common in England to make bread.
It is a source of minerals such as copper, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, vitamins A, B and C and it also has a good supply of carbohydrates and fiber.
Among the flours that contain gluten, this is the easiest to digest because it does not have as much of this element.
It is used mainly to make low and compact breads. Among the many minerals that it provides are silicon, in addition to being a good source of Omega 3 and 6 and vitamins of group E
This flour has a very fine texture and mild flavor. It is very popular in the United States, as it is one of the foods found in the traditional American breakfast in the form of porridge and porridge.
It is used in baking for desserts where the dough does not need to rise too high, such as crepes, cookies and muffins.
On the other hand, oatmeal is a very nutritious cereal, since it offers, in addition to many of the minerals it shares with other cereals, essential fatty acids.
Gluten free flours
Fortunately for people with celiac disease, there are certain varieties of flours that do not have gluten or that, if they do, contain it in low amounts. Most of these flours are made with legumes, but there are also those made from tubers and pseudo-cereals.
In any case, and to ensure that what you are consuming is gluten-free, it is advisable to look at the labeling before buying a product. There have been many times that bread has been made as made with rice flour but, to add fluffiness, wheat flour has also been added to the dough.
Corn flour is known worldwide for being the star ingredient in the preparation of Mexican tortillas and empanadillas, as well as being used to thicken sauces, stews and soups.
This flour is a source of multiple minerals, among which sodium, magnesium and calcium stand out.
Widely used in Asia, especially China and Japan, this flour is the main ingredient to make tempura, in addition to making noodle noodles and also preparing batters.
What is striking about rice flour is that, being made with this cereal, it has a very low amount of fiber and, therefore, can be very restrictive. It contains minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, selenium, iodine and magnesium, as well as being a considerable source of carbohydrates as in most flours.
Pea flour gives dishes a greenish color and can be used for all kinds of recipes: thickening purees, making pizzas, crepes and crackers …
This flour is very rich in vegetable protein, vitamins A and C, multiple minerals and, as it is made from a legume, it is more satiating than cereal flours.
Buckwheat or buckwheat is a pseudocereal and is widely used in various parts of Asia and eastern Europe.
The bread made with this type of flour is very compact and does not rise much. It is easy to digest, provides essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6, vitamins of group B and, as a really remarkable point, it provides 9 essential amino acids.
It is used to make recipes typical of Indian cuisine, such as country breads, batters or even crepes. Combines with all kinds of savory dishes.
Lentils are well known for being an important source of iron and, like peas and other legumes, it helps you feel full.
6. Broad beans
As with pea flour, bean flour adds green color to savory dishes and can be used for savory cookies and crepes.
It is a source of vegetable protein, dietary fiber, vitamins A and B, iron, phosphorus, calcium and other minerals and helps to fill you up.
This type of flour has become very popular in vegan food, since it can be used as a substitute for eggs to make Spanish omelettes. It is also used in Indian cuisine.
Although the most expert chefs can create all kinds of recipes in which the type of flour used when preparing a sweet does not matter, the truth is that chickpea flour is not highly recommended for it because it is difficult to mask the flavor of this legume. It is one of the ones that offers the most vitamins, of groups B, C, E and K.
The potato is probably the most consumed tuber in the world, so it is not surprising that it even has its own flour. As with corn flour, corn flour is used to thicken sauces, stews and purees.
Thanks to the fact that the aroma of the potato is soft, it can also be used in pastries, an example of which is the traditional potato cake from the island of Mallorca.
Potatoes are one of the most satisfying foods that exist and, in addition, they are easy to digest.
It is used especially in sweet recipes, as well as being ideal for preparing fillings. Almonds are very healthy, since they provide antioxidants, and you can make your flour at home simply by grinding a few of these nuts.
It can be used to prepare bechamel, buns, baby porridge, sponge cakes and thicken stews.
These fruits contain many minerals and vitamins, and are especially recommended for athletes, children and the elderly.
11. Linen or linseed
As with chickpea flour, flax flour is ideal for making vegan versions of foods that traditionally use eggs.
It must be said that, as the seeds of this plant are rich in fatty acids, if they are not used soon they can become rancid.
Another tuber that, like the potato, has its own flour is cassava or manioc.
It is widely used to thicken, in addition to preparing savory cakes to give body to its filling.
Quinoa, or quinoa, has become a well-known seed in recent years and has been the ingredient in many recipes seen as exotic in Europe.
It is grown in the Andes mountains and provides up to 8 essential amino acids. Its flour can be used in both sweet and savory recipes, as well as being used as a thickener.
Not only to make the popular Valencian drink of horchata, tigernut is a tuber whose flour is used in pastries, such as creams, fillings for cakes, sweet breads, donuts and cakes. Its aroma combines very well with lemon and cinnamon.
It is used to prepare porridges, stews, soups and other foods in which it acts as a thickener.
This flour contains antioxidants, in addition to being a very remarkable source of energy and vegetable protein. It is ideal for those who have a sensitive stomach.
Flours of animal origin
Although it may surprise some, the flours are not all of plant origin. Some parts of the animals can be used to transform them into flour and make different types of food, although not for human consumption. They are basically ingredients used to make fertilizers and feed. Therefore, vegans do not have to worry about finding them in recipes and meals.
Basically these are bones that are ground into grit. They are not used for human food, but they are used to nourish animal feed with minerals such as calcium.
Similar to the previous one and for the same use. Fish bones have an important calcium content.
It consists of the drying of animal blood, and the remaining residue is used to make feed and fertilizers.
4. Horns and other elements
Not only the horns, but also the hooves, the feathers of poultry and everything that can be used from the animals. They are used mainly to make fertilizers.
- Palmatier, RA (2000). Food: a dictionary of literal and nonliteral terms. Westport: Greenwood.
- Reinhart, P. (2001). The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press.