AskDefine | Define flour

Dictionary Definition

flour n : fine powdery foodstuff obtained by grinding and sifting the meal of a cereal grain


1 cover with flour; "flour fish or meat before frying it"
2 convert grain into flour

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings




Spelled (until c.1830) and meaning "flower" in the sense of flour being the "finest part" of meal


  1. wheat flour.
  2. ground or milled grain or cereal.
  3. powder of other material, e.g., wood flour produced by sanding wood.

See also




  1. To apply flour to (something); to cover with flour.


to apply flour to something
  • Finnish: jauhottaa
  • French: fariner, enfariner
  • German: bemehlen
  • Greek: αλευρώνω
  • Hungarian: belisztez
  • Indonesian: tepung terigu
  • Swedish: mjöla

Extensive Definition

  • Corn (maize) flour is popular in the Southern and Southwestern US and in Mexico. Coarse whole-grain corn flour is usually called corn meal. Corn meal that has been bleached with lye is called masa harina (see masa) and is used to make tortillas and tamales in Mexican cooking. Corn flour should never be confused with cornstarch, which is known as "cornflour" in British English.
  • Rye flour is used to bake the traditional sourdough breads of Germany and Scandinavia. Most rye breads use a mix of rye and wheat flours because rye has a low gluten content. Pumpernickel bread is usually made exclusively of rye, and contains a mixture of rye flour and rye meal.
  • Tapioca flour is produced from the root of the cassava plant and used to make sweet tapioca pudding and a kind of savoury porridge called fufu in Africa.
    • Glutinous rice flour or sticky rice flour, used in east and southeast Asian cuisines for making tangyuan etc.
    • Brown rice flour is of great importance in Southeast Asian cuisine. Also edible rice paper can be made from it. Most rice flour is made from white rice, thus is essentially a pure starch, but whole-grain brown rice flour is commercially available.
  • Noodle flour is special blend of flour used for the making of Asian style noodles.
  • Buckwheat flour is used as an ingredient in many pancakes in the United States. In Japan, it is used to make a popular noodle called Soba. In Russia, buckwheat flour is added to the batter for pancakes called blinis which are frequently eaten with caviar. Buckwheat flour is also used to make Breton crêpes called galettes.
  • Teff flour is made from the grain teff, and is of considerable importance in eastern Africa (particularly around the horn of Africa). Notably, it is the chief ingredient in the bread injera, an important component of Ethiopian cuisine.
  • Tang flour (not to be confused with the powdered beverage Tang) or wheat starch is a type of wheat flour used primarily in Chinese cooking for making the outer layer of dumplings and buns. It is also used in Vietnamese cuisine, where it is called bột lọc trong.
  • Peasemeal or pea flour is a flour produced from roasted and pulverized yellow field peas.
  • Bean flour is a flour produced from pulverized dried or ripe beans.
  • Potato starch flour is obtained by grinding the tubers to a pulp and removing the fibre by water-washings. The dried product consists chiefly of starch, but also contains some protein. Potato flour is used as a thickening agent. When heated to boiling, food added with a suspension of potato flour in water thickens quickly. Because the flour is made from neither grain nor legume, it is used as substitute for wheat flour in cooking by Jews during Passover, when grains are not eaten.
  • Chuño flour made from dried potatoes in various countries of South America
  • Amaranth flour is a flour produced from ground Amaranth grain. It was commonly used in pre-Columbian meso-American cuisine. It is becoming more and more available in speciality food shops.
  • Nut flours are grated from oily nuts--most commonly almonds and hazelnuts--and are used instead of or in addition to wheat flour to produce more dry and flavorful pastries and cakes. Cakes made with nut flours are usually called tortes and most originated in Central Europe, in countries such as Hungary and Austria.
Flour can also be made from soy beans, peanuts, arrowroot, taro, cattails, acorns and other non-cereal foodstuffs.

Flour type numbers

In some markets, the different available flour varieties are labeled according to the ash mass ("mineral content") that remains after a sample was incinerated in a laboratory oven (typically at 550 °C or 900 °C, see international standards ISO 2171 and ICC 104/1). This is an easy to verify indicator for the fraction of the whole grain that ended up in the flour, because the mineral content of the starchy endosperm is much lower than that of the outer parts of the grain. Flour made from all parts of the grain (extraction rate: 100%) leaves about 2 g ash or more per 100 g dry flour. Plain white flour (extraction rate: 50-60%) leaves only about 0.4 g.
  • German flour type numbers (Mehltype) indicate the amount of ash (measured in milligrams) obtained from 100 g of the dry mass of this flour. Standard wheat flours (defined in DIN 10355) range from type 405 for normal white wheat flour for baking, to strong bread flour types 550, 650, 812, and the darker types 1050 and 1600 for wholegrain breads.
  • French flour type numbers (type de farine) are a factor 10 smaller than those used in Germany, because they indicate the ash content (in milligrams) per 10 g flour. Type 55 is the standard, hard-wheat white flour for baking, including puff pastries ("pâte feuilletée"). Type 45 is often called pastry flour, but is generally from a softer wheat. Types 65, 80, and 110 are strong bread flours of increasing darkness, and type 150 is a wholemeal flour.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, no numbered standardized flour types are defined, and the ash mass is only rarely given on the label by flour manufacturers. However, the legally required standard nutrition label specifies the protein content of the flour, which is also a suitable way for comparing the extraction rates of different available flour types.
It is possible to find out ash content from some US manufacturers. However, US measurements are based on wheat with a 14% moisture content. Thus, a US flour with .48 ash would approximate a French Type 55.
In general, as the extraction rate of the flour increases, so do both the protein and the ash content. However, as the extraction rate approaches 100% (whole meal), the protein content drops slightly, while the ash content continues to rise.
The following table shows some typical examples of how protein and ash content relate to each other in wheat flour:
This table is only a rough guideline for converting bread recipes. Since the American flour types are not standardized, the numbers may differ between manufacturers.

Flour production

Milling of flour is accomplished by grinding grain between stones or steel wheels. Today, "stone-ground" usually means that the grain has been ground in a mill in which a revolving stone wheel turns over a stationary stone wheel, vertically or horizontally with the grain in between. Many small appliance mills are available, both hand-cranked and electric.


Flour dust suspended in air is explosive, as is any mixture of a finely powdered flammable substance with air, see Lycopodium. The most benign cases occur in classroom flour bombs. In medieval flour mills, candles, lamps, or other sources of fire were forbidden. Some devastating and fatal explosions have occurred at flour mills, including an explosion in 1878 at the Washburn "A" Mill in Minneapolis, the largest flour mill in the United States at the time.

Flour products

Bread, pasta, crackers, many cakes, and many other foods are made using flour. Wheat flour is also used to make a roux as a base for gravy and sauces. White wheat flour is the traditional base for wallpaper paste. It is also the base for papier-mâché. Cornstarch is a principal ingredient of many puddings or desserts.


flour in Asturian: Fariña
flour in Aymara: Aku
flour in Bengali: ময়দা
flour in Bavarian: Mäih
flour in Catalan: Farina
flour in Czech: Mouka
flour in Danish: Mel
flour in German: Mehl
flour in Estonian: Jahu
flour in Modern Greek (1453-): Αλεύρι
flour in Spanish: Harina
flour in Esperanto: Faruno
flour in Persian: آرد
flour in French: Farine
flour in Scottish Gaelic: Flùr
flour in Galician: Fariña
flour in Croatian: Brašno
flour in Indonesian: Tepung
flour in Italian: Farina
flour in Hebrew: קמח
flour in Swahili (macrolanguage): Unga
flour in Lithuanian: Miltai
flour in Hungarian: Liszt
flour in Malagasy: Koba
flour in Dutch: Meel
flour in Cree: ᐸᐦᐧᑫᔑᑲᓐ
flour in Japanese: 小麦粉
flour in Norwegian: Mel
flour in Norwegian Nynorsk: Mjøl
flour in Polish: Mąka
flour in Portuguese: Farinha
flour in Quechua: Hak'u
flour in Russian: Мука
flour in Simple English: Flour
flour in Slovak: Múka
flour in Slovenian: Moka
flour in Serbian: Брашно
flour in Finnish: Jauhot
flour in Swedish: Mjöl
flour in Ukrainian: Борошно
flour in Walloon: Farene
flour in Yiddish: מעהל
flour in Contenese: 麪粉
flour in Chinese: 麵粉

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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