There’s a new “whole wheat” on the block: ultragrain white whole wheat.
Heard of it?
Neither had I… until Sarah asked if the hard white wheat she loves to use is the same as this new ultragrain white whole wheat.
So I looked it up, and oh my! I know I shouldn’t be shocked… but I was.
You see, the new “ultragrain” white whole wheat is used in all kinds of refined baked goods — with the “whole wheat” and “healthy whole grains” labeling, of course — to make people think they’re doing something good for themselves.
Except they aren’t. Foods made with ultragrain are no better than those made with white flour.
Yet to answer Sarah’s question… how does ultragrain compare to her beloved white whole wheat? Which is better? Or should she be using something altogether different in her homemade sourdough baked goods?
On today’s #AskWardee, I’m sharing my opinion on all of it!
Read, listen, or watch below!
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Q: Is Hard White Wheat As Bad As Ultragrain White Whole Wheat?
Sarah W. asked:
Hello! I’m hoping you can help me. I have been following the Weston A. Price diet for a few years now and am just getting into baking sourdough bread. I have purchased hard white whole wheat flour, and I am wondering if it is healthy. I found an article from the Weston A. Price Foundation about Ultragrain White Whole Wheat (see the bottom of this article), but I am having trouble finding if there are any problems with baking with hard white whole wheat flour. I really like the texture it gives my sourdough, and I’m hoping that it’s on the “ok-list”! Thank you so much!
First, What’s Hard White Wheat?
Hard white wheat is a variety of wheat that’s been around a long time, just like hard red wheat that is mostly commonly used and called “whole wheat”.
Neither of these are “new” like Ultragrain, which we’ll discuss next.
According to this article at the Weston A. Price Foundation:
Hard white wheat has been around for a long time, and, ironically, was one of those hard-to-find grains until fairly recently. White wheat carries the recessive gene for pigmentation, and in its natural state is the same nutritionally as hard red wheat, except for the lack of color in the bran. Because it lacks the red pigment, it also does not have the phenols which impart a slightly bitter taste to pigmented wheats (akin to the tannin in tea) and so the slight natural sweetness of wheat is more apparent.
So, it’s the same as hard red wheat nutritionally, the only difference being the lighter color and non-bitter taste.
What’s Ultragrain White Whole Wheat?
Again quoting from this article at the Weston A. Price Foundation:
ConAgra, which spent almost 10 years on the hybridization of the new white wheat as well as its milling process, has produced, in Ultragrain, an even sweeter wheat with a thinner bran. The patented milling process pulverizes the grain to such a degree that the particles are practically microscopic, and the flour can be used in all commercial food processing applications that currently use refined flours.
All the hullabulloo has to do with what the food industry must consider a win-win situation: the new (non-GMO) wheat hybrid and new patented milling process by ConAgra create a whole wheat flour with just about none of the qualities we associate with whole wheat, so customers used to the taste of refined flour products may virtuously purchase the new “whole wheat” versions and expect no unpleasant surprises.
So, the new ultragrain white whole wheat, just a handful of years old, is sweeter, less heavy through hybridization, and more refined through a patented milling process that actually pulverizes the grain. It’s pretty much interchangeable with refined flours (because it is refined itself) and therefore has none of the “healthy” qualities of whole wheat — taste or nutrition.
And now, there’s a flood of “whole wheat” products in the marketplace using this flour! When people see the label “whole wheat” or “healthy whole grains”, you can bet they think these foods are good for them.
Yet they’re as refined and unhealthy as ever, especially when you consider they probably still contain a whole host of other things we should avoid at all costs, like sugar, genetically modified corn and soy, preservatives, artificial colors, etc…!
What’s The Best, Though?
Sarah, the hard white wheat you’re using in your homemade sourdough bread is soooo much better than ultragrain!
However, even hard white or hard red wheat are a far cry from the ancient wheat einkorn or other ancient varieties like spelt or emmer.
Einkorn is civilization’s first wheat, grown by farmers 5,000 years ago. It’s healthy and tasty — and my family has been exclusively baking with it for a couple years now.
Because of the gentler, older form of gluten, and the gentler starch, we find we digest it better than modern wheat. And where modern wheat can trigger slight seasonal allergies for me, einkorn does not.
Read more about einkorn here and here.
Sarah, I’m not saying you need to switch to einkorn from the hard white wheat you love. I’m just pointing out — since you asked if hard white wheat is healthy — that there is a healthier choice in the ancient varieties. Many people have no reactions to modern wheat and do fine with it, though. Please feel confident with the decision you make for your family and know that I support you 100%. 🙂
FREE No-Knead Einkorn Sourdough Bread Recipe
Einkorn is a bit tricky to figure out how to use because it behaves differently.
Yet… you can skip the learning curve by using my free and AMAZING no-knead einkorn bread recipe!
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And soon your family will be saying: “This is the best bread EVER!”
- FREE No-Knead Einkorn Sourdough Artisan Bread Recipe
- Going With The Grain at Weston A. Price Foundation
- Einkorn 101
- 4 Reasons I <3 Einkorn
- How To Make An Einkorn Sourdough Starter
- How To Transition A Sourdough Starter To Einkorn
- Where To Buy Einkorn
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- How To Simply & Easily Clean Your Mockmill Grain Mill #AskWardee 119
- Home Grain Milling 101: The Basics #AskWardee 097
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- Home Grain Milling 101: More Things Your Grain Mill Can Do! #AskWardee 100
- How to Store Flour and Grains#AskWardee 149
- Where To Buy Whole Wheat Berries, Grains, and Flour #AskWardee 148
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What’s your opinion on the “whole wheat” baked goods using ultragrain?
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Carol Manda says
Question about Ultragrain White Wheat: Does ConAgra’s milling process involve first removing the bran and germ, as is customary for milling refined flours? If not, then no, it isn’t just like refined flours, but the question then becomes, “What does that aggressive hyper-milling do to the beneficial nutrients and fiber of the germ and bran?” Are they overheated by this milling process? What actually remains or is changed, nutritionally? And no, I would not look to ConAgra testing for that answer!
Is the Trader Joe’s White Whole Wheat flour a truly whole wheat flour, different from the ones with the problems?
Per Trader Joe’s website, explains that the White Whole Wheat goes from farmer to their supplier’s mill to the stores. The White Whole Wheat Flour is milled from premium white wheat grown on the high plains of the Midwest and Colorado. It sounds like a good wheat. I hope that helps.
~Peggy, TCS Customer Success Team
Ron Alterman says
Hi Wardee. I was watching your #112 about ultraflour and you mentioned einkorn wheat flour. I’m learning how to make sourdough and doing pretty well. I’m interested in trying einkorn flour, but I’ve only found whole wheat and all purpose flour. Is there someone the mills einkorn bread flour. I would rather not use all purpose flour. I don’t get as good of results.
Vicki Henry says
Here is our resource page for Einkorn with 2 sources for Einkorn grains and flours: https://traditionalcookingschool.com/tools/einkorn-resources/
~ Vicki, TCS Customer Success Team
I know this article is older, so I hope someone finds this comment. I love einkorn, but I am trying to slowly introduce my husband to healthier ways of eating. Right now, I am making items with All Purpose and Whole White Wheat Flour. I was using organic Bob’s Red Mill and organic King Arthur flour, but it is getting too expensive! I want to purchase 50 pound bags of this flour off of Azure Standard.
It is a process called Unifine. Azure Standard has an article on it that I included, and I have asked questions of the actual mill itself. Is this the same thing as Ultragrain? And, have you heard about this process and your opinion on it? Thanks so much!
I asked Wardee her thoughts on their Unifine. She said:
“As my article states, Ultragrain is not only milled more finely — it is also a new hybridized variety of wheat that is sweeter and less dense than whole wheat (or even the hard white wheat on which it is based).
From what I can tell on Azure’s website, their Unifine milling is done on a variety of healthy heritage grains such as spelt, einkorn, rye, buckwheat, etc., as well as modern wheat varieties (yet not Ultragrain, that I can see).
“In Azure’s Unifine process, the entire bran, germ and endosperm of the grain are processed into a nutritious whole grain flour in one step. Instead of crushing or cutting the grain like a typical commercial roller mill, the Unifine process uses a high-speed rotor to instantly pulverize the kernels of grains, leaving the oils undamaged by heat. And there’s no added water, so the flour has a longer shelf life.”
They also offer Ultra Unifine flour, where 8% of the bran is removed as well…. making these flours no longer whole grain.
The drawback of using Unifine or Ultra Unifine flour would be the same as with consuming refined flour baked goods… watching blood sugar and insulin levels, etc.
If I were purchasing Unifine flour, I would choose only with the ancient varieties of grain flours such as spelt or einkorn. I would stay away from Unifine hard red or hard white wheat flour… which, like Ultragrain, are modern hybridized varieties of wheat that are less healthy than the heritage varieties.”
~Danielle, TCS Customer Success Tea,
Thanks so much Danielle!
This really sucks! LOL I thought I finally found a nutritious and affordable flour to eat. I have a flour mill, but I have a hard time always cooking with fresh flour because I can never get it ground fine enough to avoid sifting. I thought this would be the solution. Just curious if she personally asked Azure Standard about the types of hard red wheat and hard white wheat they are using for the Unifine process or was it on the Azure Standard website? If it was not a modern hybridized version, would it be perfectly fine? And, lastly, would the Unifine all purpose and unfine whole wheat bread flour STILL be a slightly healthier step up from just using Bob’s Red Mill, or King Arthur, flour All Purpose, Bread Flour and Wheat Flour? I know it it not the ideal choice, but I have to do some of these things in baby steps with my new husband? I can’t just pull the rug out from under him to eat healthy and there is expense as well. Thanks!
I would still go with Azure Standard. Hard red and hard white are still hybridized. In fact, only einkorn is the truly unhybridized wheat: https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/is-heirloom-wheat-hybridized/
The thing is, not everyone has a problem with it, so what you are doing is still healthier for you family.
~Danielle, TCS Customer Sucess Team
You peaked my interest, so I went hunting because I did not think about the modern hybridized varieties. This is so interesting on what he wrote.