The Difference Between Starch and Flour Is Getting Blurry

The unstoppable increase in wheat flour price is making our bread less and less affordable. The source of flour, the wheat, never grow well on our agricultural lands. We have to import it from other countries. It make us more helpless in controlling over the price of our local bread. The solution is, of course, finding local flour alternatives. We Filipinos are good at it.

We have already invented numerous type of flour. Perhaps anything we dried and converted to minute particles are connected with the term flour. Ube flour, corn four, potato flour, camote flour and so on and so forth.  However, such products are also being called as starch and powder by different manufacturers.

Corn starch is called such because the source material is rich in starch. The powder from wheat grain is also rich in starch but it was named as flour instead of starch. Have you ever wonder what separates flour from starch?

Flour has gluten. The protein is responsible for the elastic property of dough. It holds the air produced by yeasts and or baking powder, making the bread rise. The starch on the other has no gluten. It can be kneaded but no elasticity can be achieved. It can be added with yeast and or baking powder but will never hold any bubbles.

Starch can be added to flour to some extent without jeopardizing much of its elasticity. So the bread with added ube powder is called ube bread and the ube powder is called ube flour instead.

unidentified powder

Adlai Products

Adlai production and consumption is being promoted by the Department of Agriculture together with various state colleges and universities. The grain is a rich source of energy and so a good alternative to rice, corn, potato and perhaps wheat products.

Adlai, based on anecdotal literature, has good eating quality, grow well in non-irrigated areas and requires low farm inputs. However, other people have negative opinion. How can it be a good rice alternative if its grain yield is relatively low and can only be harvested two times a year. I guess more research has to be done to make it as prolific as rice and erase those negatives. The long and tedious series of variety selection, breeding, testing and field trials.

I think the area of food technology is an easier field. People has already developed various food products using Adlai.

1) Pure adlai flour. It can be made into any bakery goods provided with right amount of wheat flour or any gluten substitute. I wonder if it can also be cooked as rice milk.

pure adlai flour

2) The adlai health drink. I think it was adapted from oatmeal and other oatmeal based drink.

golden adlai and health drink

3) Adlai golden. I am sure it is not a genetically modified adlai with beta carotene. I think it was added with food coloring or stuff with a color yellow complexion, eg margarine.

4) Adlai Maki Sushi. A proof that it can be used on your favorite maki. It might not be as good or it might taste even better.

maki shusi adlai

5) Adlai Coffee. A coffee alternative that has no caffeine. It is organically grown. Added with coconut sugar. Contains free-radical scavenging antioxidants.

adlai kape

6) Adlai suman and peche peche. I never know if adlai is glutenous or not. These two native products are suggesting me it is.

adlai suman peche peche

7) Adlai crunch, chips and puffed. I hope they are as crunchy and as tasty as they sound.

adlai crunch and chips

Researchers from Bicol State University presented a wide range of products. They have chocolate energy drink, nutri meal, kropek, coffee, 4-in-1 nutri bar, puffed and toasted adlai rice puto.

bicol state university adlai products


The Sweet Sorghum Polvoron

I am not a baker and so I never no much about the art of dough kneading. I can make a soft bread but wasn’t able to do a satisfactory outcome for the masses. I guess it will be harder for me to turn this sweet sorghum flour to a nice soft bread. Doing the easiest recipe would be the best start, the polvoron.

triple a farms sweet sorghum flourThe Sweet Sorghum Polvoron

1) Get two measures sweet sorghum flour. Place it on frying pan. Place the pan over the stove with a very low fire. Stir the flour continuously for 20 minutes or until slightly brown. Let  stand for another 20 minutes.

sweet sorghum flour after toasting2) Add one measure milk powder and half measure sugar. Mix thoroughly.  You may add more milk and more sugar if desired.

3) Mix again, but add margarine gradually until the powder begins to form a lump when pressed in between palm.

lump of margarine for mixing with pulvoron4) Get a polvoron molder and begin molding.  Then wrap individually with polvoron wrapper.

sweet sorghum pulvoronThe flour has a bitter aftertaste before and after toasting. Adding more sugar and milk is going to cover the undesirable flour flavor.

Getting Tips on How To Use The Sweet Sorghum Flour

I wanted to use the sweet sorghum flour we have at home so I searched for some clues.

triple a sweet sorghum flour

1) Sorghum flour is not usually used as is. – A variety of gluten-free flour mix brands contain sorghum flour blended with other gluten-free flours, starches and leavening agents.

2) Tend to produce an inferior product when not used in a mix. – Used alone, sorghum produces dry, gritty baked goods. It needs to be used in a gluten-free flour blend for good results. Mixed with tapioca starch sorghum baked goods have better volume and texture.

3) Needs more oil and eggs and small amount of cider vinegar. Adding slightly more oil or fat and eggs to recipes prepared with sorghum blends can improve moisture content and texture. Apple cider vinegar or ascorbic acid can also improve the volume of dough made with sorghum flour blends.

4) Prone to rancidity and thus have a shorter storage life. – Purchase the very freshest of this Sorghum flour and in very small quantity…because, once opened…the rancidity factor escalates. – Always store this flour in a sealed glass jar and inside the refrigerator.

5) Malted sorghum flour was found out to have higher swelling power, than non-malted. – Chemical Compositions and Physico-Chemical Properties of Malted Sorghum Flour and Characteristics of Gluten Free Bread. N. Phattanakulkaewmorie, T. Paseephol, and A.Moongngarm.

sources: 1, 2, 3

Fresh Juice, Syrup, Ethanol and Other Products from Sweet Sorghum

Yet another no-waste crop, sweet sorghum.

Engr. Tony and Doris Arcangel of Bapamin Enterprises, Batac, Ilocos Norte thru Mag-Agri Tayo shared the products they are producing out of sweet sorghum. They are the following:

Fresh juice. A sweet extract gathered after passing the harvested stalks via mechanical presser.  Fresh extract can be drink as is, concentrated or mixed to other juice of different type.

Ethyl alcohol – They are bottling them as sanitizer for personal and hospital use. They are also willing to venture into large scale ethanol production if there will be an investor support on part of planting additional sweet sorghum crops. Ethyl alcohol or ethanol is a by-product of yeast activity. Under anaerobic condition the yeast consume sugar resulting to release of carbon dioxide and alcohol. The initial product is distilled once to several times depending on required concentration and purity.

Sweet Sorghum Syrup – They are claiming it as healthy and comparable to supplementary vitamin.  Syrup is made by evaporating some moisture component thru heating. Depending on sugar content, it may be classified as light, medium and heavy.

Vinegar. A resulting product when the ethanol or wine is contaminated with acetic acid bacteria or intentionally added with. The ethyl alcohol produced by yeast activity is converted to acetic acid in presence of oxygen.

They are also selling sweet sorghum grains and seeds and on the track in making flour for gluten-free bread. Sorghum is a no-waste commodity. Bagasse  can befermented as high moisture fodder that can be fed to ruminants or used as biofuel feedstock for anaerobic digesters.

Their main products is are marketed under the brand name Healtika. Their product research, development and marketing continues thru the help of Mariano Marcos Statte University (MMSU), Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

source: mag-agri tayo via: da-bar and youtube

5 Vague and Confusing Product Names

Example to clarify the term “product name”.

UFC Banana Ketchup, Datu Puti Soy Sauce, Nestle Ice Cream and Oreo Cookies.

Brand names are UFC, Datu Puti, Nestle and Oreo. Product names are banana ketchup, soy sauce, ice cream and cookies.

Some product names are vague, confusing or maybe a victim of mistaken identity. The first producer gave the wrong name, copycat manufacturers called it the same, then the whole community follows.

1) Lambanog. Previously known as the famous Philippine Coconut Wine. A fermented and distilled coconut sap. A 90 proof intoxicating beverage.

Wine process does not include distillation. The 90 proof is far beyond wine specification. Thanks to a prominent personality who called it coconut vodka and or distilled coconut spirit. It is now known as Coconut Vodka.

2) Potato flour, ube flour, camote flour etc… In attempt to combat non stop bread price increase, innovators are trying to come up with flour replacement.

To make things clearer, flour contains gluten, an essential component in formation of dough and rising of bread. Gluten can only be found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Starchy products without gluten should not be called flour.

A certain percentage can be added to flour but a 100 percent replacement is not possible.

3) Soy sauce. A salty dark brown condiment made by a two stage soybean fermentation. Aerobic fermentation by Aspergillus oryzae then a simultaneous anaerobic action of lactobacilli and yeast. The whole process may take several months to several years.

Some popular and affordable brands are produced using the quick process. Made by mixing hydrolyzed soybean protein, salt, sugar, colors and flavorings. Maybe they should think of a different name for this. A big and bold “ARTIFICIAL SOY SAUCE” is acceptable.

4) Juice Drink. Names “juice” and “juice drink” are entirely different. Juice is the the extracted sap, undiluted, unsweetened and not concentrated either. On the other hand juice drink is the diluted version, more than 70% water or just one percent juice. Base on common eyes and common taste buds, both terms are not different. Childrens and unconsious people don’t bother.

5) Shrimp cracker. Comes in two variation, ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook. None of the brands I have tried tasted like real shrimp. Why are they calling it a shrimp cracker if it never tasted like real?

I had an experiment, using pure rice powder to mimic a ready-to-cook shrimp cracker.