Flour and Grain Meals
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The first flours and meals were obtained simply by grinding the grains with a mortar and pestle. The method progressed to quern stones powered exclusively by elbow grease and these in turn were replaced by millstones powered by animals, water or wind.
It was a common sight to see a farmer unloading sacks of grain at the local grist mill to be milled into flour or meal. Small mills along rivers were part of the landscape and also a part of each region's system of self-sufficiency. These mills are unfortunately now rare, not to mention the varieties of grains which supplied them.
Flours from the large industrial mills are blends of various cloned cultivars, processed to give a consistent quality, which makes them reliable but bland.
Flours milled from locally grown grains ( in many cases of heirloom varieties), are the answer to serious bread artisans and cooks in search of the real thing.
Whole grain wheat flour applies to just that: flour made with the whole grain. Whole wheat flour is also called "graham flour" in the U.S. It's supposed to be a coarse ground wheat which in the distant past was the basis for the original graham cracker.
100% Rye flour is just that. It has a low gluten content and used by itself will make a coarse, dense loaf. Pumpernickel flour is exclusively made of rye and rye meal.
Maize meals and flours come in as many colors as there are varieties of maize.
Rice flour is used to make steamed, filled pastries in Asian cookery; chickpea flour, which is used in Indian and Italian cuisines, arrow root, potato and faro are all non-grain flours which are used mostly as thickeners.