Yesterday I mentioned that it can be helpful to try out different brands of flours until you can find the one you like best. Let’s dive into that a bit more today and talk about some things to look for to decide, “Does the brand of flour I buy matter?”.
Why does brand matter?
Sometimes it does not matter where you buy your flours. Sorghum flour, for example, I have not found very much difference in. Often times different ways of processing result in a different texture of flour. This can then result in different results in your baking. One brand might be a bit larger grain size and that leads to grainy results in your baking. Or perhaps they process their coconuts slightly differently and their coconut flour has a tendency to soak up more water.
Many differences are slight enough that they are not going to affect the final product, but sometimes the difference is significant and you do need to keep an eye out. Another reason why brand can matter is to make sure of the purity of the product. One of the easiest ways to verify this is to find something that is certified gluten free. Sometimes flour types will be mixed in order to make them easier to work with, and those of us with food allergies need to pay close attention. We want to buy from a reputable brand and feel confident that they know what they are doing.
Don’t forget to check your local ethnic stores. I love ethnic grocery stores – they have some super fun stuff to try and often times are very inexpensive. Many of them do sell “gluten free” flours as well, especially depending on the culture, you can find large quantities of rice flour or tapioca starch very inexpensively. I used quotes around gluten free for this reason, though – that we have zero idea where those products actually came from or how they were processed. They are typically from ethnic producers that have no reason to be worried about cross contact or making sure things are kept separated from wheat, and usually we can’t even read the labeling on the package. This is not necessarily to scare you off from non-major brands, but do be aware when buying.
What to look for?
- As we mentioned above, start with knowing your producer: Is it or is it not certified gluten free? We buy products that are not certified, but we are more careful about reading labels and such if they are not certified.
- How is it processed or ground? Are there key words like stone ground, or other indications of processing we can go off of? I, personally, love stone ground grits. They are a bit coarser, which I love, but it’s not my favorite when it comes to rice flour in a baked good. I find it lends an extra crunchiness that I don’t like. Maybe you do like that, or that is what you are looking for in this one particular recipe.
- If you can’t find the information you need on the package, then be willing to ask questions. Check things out on the internet, ask others who know gluten free stuff, and certainly don’t be shy about asking the manufacturer. Most producers are more than happy to answer your questions as much as possible.
- Physically look at the actual flour. Almond flour is one of the easiest ones to tell, and the “worst” offender here. The grind size on almond flour can vary widely. Creating a delicious product with one brand, and a horrendous crumbly mess with another. (we use Costco because of the consistently fine grind)
- Lastly, go with what works for you. Maybe you like that slightly larger almond flour. Then do it! Don’t feel stuck with one brand because your friend loves it or I tell you to buy it. Find what works for you, and go with that.
I like to look for the most finely ground flours possible as I’ve found it leads to the most consistent and nicest textured product in my opinion.
The 3 biggest “offenders” I’ve found that vary by brand are almond, coconut and rice flour. Just know you might have to try a couple different varieties to find the one that works best for you. Once you do, just run with it and don’t look back!
If you are trying different brands, do you best to find the smallest packages possible. I know that gluten free flours are not the most inexpensive thing in the world. I love a deal as well, so I like shopping in bulk, but it’s also not worth having 4 extra pounds of a flour you hate just to “save money”
Also, this is one reason you might find a recipe and try it and have it not turn out like the author said it would. Reach out to that person and find out what brands of flour they are using. It might be a different brand than what you have and causing the recipe to act different.
Especially if you are new to the gluten free world, I know it is daunting. There are so many options! If you are looking into different flours, make it a goal to only choose one at a time. Find that one you like and then you can move on. None of these things are the end of the world. Remember that stress is way more damaging than having a recipe not turn out quite right. If I can ever be of help, please let me know.
Make it a tasty day,