Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Review: Eagle Mills All-Purpose Flour

The PR people for ConAgra Foods sent a bag of the company's Eagle Mills All-Purpose Flour, which is supposedly closer to whole wheat than regular white flour, but with a milder taste and the texture of the later. I just baked some bread with it and think it's potentially got a place in the kitchen, though isn't going to be the eating habit savior that the marketing people want to portray.

Eagle Mills is actually a blend of 70% white flour and a blend of 30% Ultragrain. Don't be surprised if you haven't yet heard of the latter. It's a proprietary preparation of ConAgra and the major ingredient behind Sara Lee Soft & Smooth 100% Whole Wheat Bread, which I haven't yet tried. It seems to be some processed form of whole wheat flour, but milled to a state where is doesn't have the textural roughness you'd ordinarily expect.

One of the claims that ConAgra Foods, manufacturers of Ultragrain flour, makes is that the product is mroe nutritious than "unenriched unbleached flour." You can see their comparitive data here. The figures for refined, unenriched wheat flour and traditional whole grain wheat flour come from the USDA national nutrient database (which I double-checked). Notice that the values for Ultragrain and whole wheat are the same? (Also, notice that they compare to unenriched flour, versus, say, enriched bread flour, but the differences between those two aren't all that big.)

As I read through everything, I realized that Eagle Mills isn't a wonder concoction bringing the nutritional benefits of whole wheat to everything. This is a blend, but typically you'd have a ratio of maybe 60%/40% of regular white to whole wheat. You could even push that up more, I've found. However, some things like dietary fiber will be double using Eagle Mills compared to regular white. Also, if you're baking bread, you might find that you let a bit less rise from this. I think they blended the Ultragrain with regular white and not bread flour. Normally, I'd blend whole wheat with a bread flour to increase the gluten content and get more rise in the final product. Also, if you want the nuttier taste of whole wheat, Eagle Mills is not the way to go. But if you'd like to boost the nutritional value of something while trying to get as close to a white flour taste and texture aesthetic as possible, give this product a try.

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