Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Dough conditioners, wheat flour, and wheat berries

Dough Conditioners?

A question from Valynn:

I made the wheat bread again, this time with a pinch of citric acid. It didn't seem to change anything. My bread was ok inside but the outside was not very soft.  It crumbled when I cut it, same as my first loaf. I'm not supposed to add all four conditioners am I? Do you have any ideas to make the outside softer? I'm doing half wheat half white flour.

Yes -- by all means, add all four of the dough conditioners listed in the additional notes of my recipe, especially if you wish to use 100% whole wheat flour. :) I use Prairie Gold Hard White Wheat flour and add all four conditioners. If you use some all-purpose flour, you may need smaller amounts of the conditioners. We found what worked best for our whole wheat loaves and put those measurements in the additional notes of the recipe. :)

To make the outside softer, I suggest buttering the loaf after it is shaped (before rising) and buttering it again immediately after being baked. Be sure to cover the dough and/or freshly-baked bread with a clean towel. And as soon as it's cool, slice it and bag it! Another softer-crust tip can be found here (step #4).

Source for organic flour?

A question from Debbie:

I remember that recently you listed an organic flour source but can't locate it now. I live near the Cleveland area (Amherst) and just recently started my farmers market featuring artisan breads and bagels. I would love to find a local source for organic flour to avoid the high cost of shipping. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

The organic flour source I mentioned previously wasn't local for me; the family who owns that farm are friends of ours who bring our orders when they come to visit. ;)

Most of my flour isn't organic. I use Wheat Montana which is chemical-free. I order from a co-op that is coordinated by a lady near my town. (Here is where the order is placed, for those curious about prices. I buy in bulk, i.e. 25-50 pound bags.)

I suggest checking at nearby health food stores or bulk food stores and trying to find out about bulk ordering or any possible local health food co-ops.

And while we're on the topic, does anyone know the difference between "organic" and "chemical-free"?

Flour/wheat berry equivalents

And a question from Susan:

The regular white flour I've been using runs 2.2 cents/ounce. I've found wheat berries for 2.7 cents an ounce, but how much flour does that equate to? I know that some where I've got to consider the health benefits and their value, too. I guess what I've really meant to ask is how much flour do you get from each milling? How many cups of wheat berries is equal to what amount of flour?

When comparing prices for flour and wheat berries, the price per ounce is the price per ounce. What I mean is that a pound of wheat berries makes a pound of flour. A pound of flour takes up more space in the container, but it is still the same weight.

I think that generally, 1 cup of wheat berries makes 1.5 cups of wheat flour. (The volume increases by about half.)

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I am not positive, but I believe to be certified organic your fields have to have 10 years without any "chemicals" or pesticides on them. You also have to go through a lot of government red tape to be certified organic. If it is chemical free that means you did not use chemicals on the product, but the land might have had chemicals on it in the past 10 years.
Hope that helps :)

I'm pretty sure that's right. Also, some small farmers can't afford to get certified organic, so they may sell organic produce, but they can't call it that. :p

Dear Tammy,

I am by no means an expert on this subject, but have gained some knowledge in talking with local Amish and organic farmers in our area. This is what I understand these terms to mean. "Chemical free" means just that, produce grown without the use of any chemicals. "Organic" is free of chemicals, but it goes one step further. Organic gardening is gardening or farming in such a way as to give back to nature, keeping waterways clean, composting, crop rotation, or allowing fields to rest every several years. I hope this bit of information helps.

Because of Him,
Ruth, PA


I have noticed that I feel pretty lousy anytime I eat wheat products. I thought it was gluten intolerance. However, I recently tried some wheat that had been stored for a very long period of time and to my surprise, it did not make me sick. I am strongly suspecting that chemicals impurities on the wheat (i.e. fungicides, pesticides, etc. ) are the real culprit, not gluten.

I thought "organic" wheat would be the answer. However, from what I understand, farmers can earn the organic certification if they use "organic" products. Unfortunately, If no alternative organic products are available for the issue they are facing, they can use the regular pesticides and so forth and still maintain their "organic" label.

I think the Amish community is pretty trustworthy, so I would like to try their wheat products. Do you know of any good Amish farmers who I could buy wheat from? If so, please let me know.

I have often wondered about the volume equivalent in flour for wheat berries. Thanks for answering my unspoken question!


I put the fresh from oven loaf into a bag and tie it shut. The steam it creates makes the outside (and inside) very soft. Use an oven bag so that it doesnt melt...and wash out to reuse :)

Great post. Another way to get an idea of how much flour you can make: 1 lb of berries = 4.5 c flour. Of course that's somewhat dependent on how fine you grind the flour.

Technically, items can only be labeled as "organic" if they are properly certified by organic certification organizations and all the standards are met to their satisfaction.

We use the term "chemical free" on our products because, although we haven't used any chemicals on our farm since 1964 and we DO certify the farmland as organic, we don't have organic certification on our warehouse and milling operation. That's not because we use chemicals in that step (we'd easily meet the qualifications), but because of the additional paperwork and expense of the certification. We want to pass the savings on to our customers, and - since we've been around so long - not being able to say "organic" on our label doesn't cut down on sales enough to matter. :-)

-Abigail, from :-)

Tammy, I have been using your bread recipe and substituting 2 tbsp butternut squash puree for the oil. I have also used apple sauce. I intend to try a few other veggies too. It's worked out very nicely. I've been inspired by the book, "Deceptively Delicious".

Regarding Wheat Montana wheat and their "chemical-free" labeling - I contacted them once to ask why they weren't certified organic if their wheat was free of chemical residues, etc. and they told me that the reason they are not certifiable is because they use nitrogen fertilizer. They chose to do this in order to avoid cross-contamination - they did not want their flour to become contaminated with illness-causing pathogens from manure because flour is a product that is sometimes eaten in dishes that are not cooked.

I'm very much a no-chemical type of person, but I do use wheat montana flour because although they use nitrogen, they test their wheat to be sure that it does not have any chemical residues whatsoever. Although organic certification standards are more stringent in general, this testing of the actual food product that Wheat Montana does is actually more stringent than any such standard according to the organic certification/labeling standards (or so I understand - if I'm wrong please feel free to correct!).

I've thought of using dough conditioners in my bread, because I like the soft texture of store-bought bread, but soy is a NO in our house. So I use an egg if I want lecithin. I'm still twiddling with the whole dough-conditioner business. I try not to use any additives (the ones that sound like they belong in a Chemistry lab) in my bread because there's really no point in making it myself if it has all the same stuff the store-bought bread does. The reason I make things homemade is to avoid that sort of thing, but yes, it is hard sometimes when I miss the texture. I don't mind the homemade-bread crumbliness so much but my husband doesn't prefer homemade bread every day. He actually griped at me to buy bread when I tried making all our bread a while back. What a wierd guy - but I love him! :-p

If you really want to know what Organic means, best downoad the Act that created & defines Organic.

It really does not mean chemical free, it means that chemicals that are used must meet a certain standards as defined by the act.

As for antibiotics, many sythentic antiboiotics can be used when animals are babies, but not when they are grown ... lets be realistic here, Pennicillian & most other anitbiotics are naturally occuring substances & in their natural form are allowable in the production of organic meats.
White Willow bark, salix, is the basis from which the synthetic forms of Asprin were first developed. Valium was based from valarian. Most medicines currently in use were discovered in naturally occuring forms.

Same with agricultural chemicals & pesticides.

Naturally occuring chemical substances are allowable under the Organic regulations!

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