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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Flour

The Chinese began grinding wheat into flour with a grindstone, instead of cooking it whole for the first time in around 250 BC. They mixed the flour with water to make a dough, which they steamed and boiled. From the mixture the Chinese made buns, dumplings, noodles, thin pancakes and steamed breads, calling them all ping.

The Domesday Book, which was commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1086, listed over 5,500 water mills used to grind grain to produce flour for the population south of England's River Severn and Trent.

Henry Jones of Bristol patented the world’s first self-raising flour on March 11, 1845. By the end of 1846 its runaway success had led to him being appointed purveyor of patent flour and biscuits to Queen Victoria.

It took Jones some years to convince the British Admiralty of the benefits of using the new flour in preference to the hard biscuits to which sailors were accustomed. Jones emphasized the benefits to the sailors of having fresh bread throughout their voyages. Finally, in 1855, his flour was approved for use of participants in the Crimean War, partly at the behest of Florence Nightingale.

By Chmee2 - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikipedia Commons

One of the consequences of the Industrial Revolution was that adulteration of food became big business. As a result the British Parliament passed the Adulteration of Food and Drink Act in 1860, the first food legislation law. This was designed to prevent the widespread practice of corrupting expensive foods with inexpensive substances such as the addition of chalk to flour.

Aunt Jemima pancake flour, which was invented at St. Joseph, Missouri in 1899 was the first ready-mix food ever to be introduced commercially and the first self-rising flour for pancakes.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, flour manufacturers saw women turning their flour sacks into clothing, diapers, dish cloths, and more, so they started packing their flour in pretty patterns.

It takes around 350 ears of wheat to make enough flour for one 800g loaf of bread.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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