Whole Grains

This is the first of a series I’d like to call Spread the Bread-fo, where I share some knowledge to educate y’all about bread.

I’m a firm believer that the labels you find on bread at the grocery store are half-truths used to confuse consumers. ‘50% Whole Grain’ and ‘100% Whole Grain’ are two phrases you often see on labels. You’ve probably wondered what the difference is between 50% and 100% Whole Grain? And what does ‘Whole Grain’ even mean? Let’s start with the meaning of Whole Grain. According to the Whole Grains Council, “100% of the original kernel- all of the bran, germ, and endosperm- must be present to qualify as a whole grain.” This means that before the grain is milled into flour it is made up of three different parts- the bran, germ, and endosperm. Although flour isn’t technically whole grains because it is processed into tiny particles that make it a flour, if the flour being used to make bread contains all parts of the grain then it is still considered ‘Whole Grain.’

So….what about those percentages? They range anywhere from 50% to 100% when found on bread labels. This means that 50% of the flour was whole grain flour, and the other 50% of the flour? Well that’s up to the company whose making the bread. What is most commonly used in breads that aren’t 100% Whole Grain are enriched refined flours. Refined flours only contain the endosperm out of the three parts. The unhealthy thing about refined flour is that it contains about 25% of the protein and 50% of the nutrients compared to whole grain flour.

Now here’s the fun part! Let’s chat about the different kinds of whole grains. What’s the most popular? Whole Wheat (sad face), which is in trendy terminology the most basic of all whole grains and tends to be the least flavorful when it comes to baking bread at home. The Whole Wheat Flour you typically find at the grocery store isn’t fresh and most certainly isn’t milled locally (sad face again). What whole grains are the naturally leavened bread community using right now? There’s been a shift to using ancient grains, which are grains that have been around since bread was even well, bread. What makes ancient grains so amazing is that they are nutrient-dense, give bread different texture, and pack in a whole lot of flavor. To name a few: Durum, Brown Teff, Emmer, Spelt, Buckwheat, Hard Red Spring Wheat, Hard Red Winter Wheat, Hard White Wheat, and more. They are as fancy and sexy as they sound.

At Wyld Bread, we use grains that are in season and available at Camas Country Mill, a grain farm and mill located in Eugene, Oregon. I definitely suggest ordering from them if you are located in the PNW and have an interest in working with whole grains. Their products are top-notch quality.

While the bread isle at the grocery store may be super confusing on which bread is the best to buy, always remember that buying between 50-100% whole grain is always a healthier option. To go further with the healthy-ness, read that ingredient list! Less is more. Bread only needs 3 ingredients to be made. Anything more than 10 ingredients...I’d recommend staying away from. Don’t let those marketing labels trick you! You now know Whole Grains when you see them ;)