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Understanding the different types of Flours in German Supermarkets
Flour is a staple in every home, and choosing the right flour is key to making the dish correctly and, at the same time, ensuring the right nutrition for your family. In German supermarkets, there are many types of flours available. Although this variety gives us plenty of freedom to choose, it also confuses us about which products to buy. In this article, you will learn about them, find their differences, and understand what the different codes mean. Let us start with a list of commonly available flours in german supermarkets.
Different types of flours available in german supermarkets:
Dinkelmehl is known as Spelt flour in English. This flour is made from a type of wheat called Spelt, which is the ancestor of our present-day wheat. It has been cultivated in Asia and Egypt for over 1000 years and reached Europe in the middle ages. It has a more nutty and slightly tangy flavour. It has high fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, etc. It has a higher protein content than wheat flour leading to higher gluten content. The most common variants of this flour are Dinkelvollkornmehl, Dinkelmehl Typ 630, and Dinkelmehl Typ 1050. I will explain these further in the article.
Weizenmehl is known as wheat flour in English. As the name says, this flour comes from wheat and is the most commonly used flour. This flour is also rich in minerals, but the amounts are lesser than those of spelt flour. However, the gluten content in this flour is the same as spelt flour, and the fibre content is almost comparable. This flour is available in many variants in the market. Some common ones are Weizenvollkornmehl, Pizzamehl, Weizenmehl Typ 450, Weizenmehl Typ 550, Weizenmehl Typ 630, and Weizenmehl Typ 1050. These will be explained later in the article.
This is Durum wheat flour. Durum is a species of wheat, and its flour is used for making pasta, noodles, etc. Its grain is harder than the common wheat grain, which is why it is called Hartweizen (Hart meaning Hard). Because it is hard, it is difficult to grind into flour and is commonly used for making semolina (available as Hartweizengries in German supermarkets). Durum wheat semolina is used in making dry pasta than we get in supermarkets. And a combination of durum wheat and common wheat flour is used in making fresh pasta. This wheat has similar nutritional values as common wheat and contains gluten.
This is called buckwheat flour in English. This comes from the seeds of a flowering plant. Despite its name, it is not related to wheat in any way. Because of its high starch content, it is used to make flour. It is high in minerals and proteins and is gluten-free. It is used for making bread, muesli, etc.
Roggenmehl is called Rye flour in English. This comes from the rye grain. This flour is high in minerals and iron and low in gluten. Therefore, when making rye bread, yeast or sourdough has to be added to make it rise. Bread made from this flour is dense and keeps you full for a long time. The taste is also heartier than bread made from spelt or wheat flour. This flour also comes in many variants: Roggenvollkornmehl 1370, Roggenmehl 1150, Roggenmehl 815, and Roggenmehl 997.
This is rice flour and is made by grinding rice grains. This flour is high in carbohydrates, low in fibre, and gluten-free. It cannot replace wheat in making bread, pastries, etc. However, it can be used for making flatbreads, soup thickeners, etc.
This flour is made from dried corn and is called cornmeal in English. This is a coarser grain than wheat flour. It is gluten-free and high in fibre. Like rye flour, bread made with cornmeal keeps you full for a long time. It is used in making bread, tortillas, Makki ki Roti (Indian flat bread), etc. Another product called Speisestärke is also available in German supermarkets. This is cornflour (not cornmeal). This is used for thickening soups etc.
This is Soya flour. It is made by grinding dried soybeans. It is high in protein, a rich source of vitamins and minerals, and is gluten-free. It is also used for making bread, cakes, etc.
Kokosmehl is flour made from coconuts. Milk is extracted from coconuts, and the leftover fibre is dried and powdered to produce coconut flour. This flour is gluten-free and can be used in your cooking. But for baking, you can only replace 20-25% of the wheat/spelt flour with coconut flour, else the texture and the final outcome would vary greatly.
Kichererbsenmehl is chickpea flour (Kichererbsen is Chickpeas in English). This is gluten-free and high in protein, and low in carbs. It is popularly used for making falafels, thickening soups, etc.
This is oat flour. It is made by grinding oats. It is gluten-free and a great source of fibre, minerals, and vitamins. When making bread, this flour has to be combined with wheat flour and yeast so the bread can rise and get the right texture. However, pancakes and waffles can be easily made from this flour without mixing it with other flour.
This is millet flour. Millets are small, round grains and come in many varieties. Common ones are Sorghum, Pearl millet, Kodo millet, barnyard millet, and amaranthus. Millet flour is available primarily in organic stores, and those commonly available in German supermarkets are Goldhirse (golden millets) and Braunhirse (Brown millets). Millets are rich in protein and fibre and are gluten-free.
A few more types of flour are available in German supermarkets, but these are the most common ones.
Understanding the number codes:
Let us understand the numbers (405, 550, 630, etc.) written on flour packets. For this, we need to understand the parts of the wheat grain. Grains typically have:
- Bran (outermost layer): Source of fibre and vitamins
- Endosperm (the largest part of the grain covered by the bran): Source of carbohydrates and proteins
- Germ (the core of the seed): Source of vitamins, fats, and antioxidants
Different types of flour can be made by grinding some or all parts of the grain:
- Vollkornmehl, or whole grain flour, is produced by grinding all the 3- the bran, endosperm, and germ. Hence this type of flour is better in terms of nutrition than other flours made with some of the parts of the grain. Therefore Wizenvollkornmehl (wheat flour), Roggenvollkornmehl (rye flour), and Dinkelvollkornmehl (spelt flour) are made by grinding all the parts of the wheat grain, rye grain, and spelt grain, respectively.
- Now, let us understand the numbers like 405, 550, etc. The basic rule to understand it is that the higher the number, the more the mineral and fibre content of the flour. So, Typ 1050 has more minerals than Typ 850, which has more than Typ 550, which has more than Typ 450. The number means those many milligrams of minerals in 100g of flour. So Typ 450 means 450 mg of minerals in 100g of flour. Similarly, 550 means 550 mg of minerals in 100g of flour, and so on. In these, the endosperm and sometimes the germ is used.
Why is coding done for flours?
Despite understanding what the codes mean, one may wonder why the coding is done at all. The answer is that different flours are used for baking different items, such as bread, cakes, cookies, pastries, etc. To attain the right texture and flavour, the flour must be suitable.
For example, if you want to make sandwich bread that is light and soft, you will need flour that is high in gluten content and rises well when proofed and baked. This can be achieved by wheat flour type 550, which is high in gluten and has less fibre. If you use whole wheat flour instead, it would need a lot more water, making the dough heavy, leading you to add more leavening agents (such as yeast required for the dough to rise), affecting its taste. Using the same amount of yeast with whole wheat flour as you used with Typ 550 would not be enough. The bread would become dense and heavy.
So, in conclusion, the right flour for making sandwich bread is Typ 550. Therefore the answer to the question is that coding is done on flour for the convenience of customers. It helps them choose the suitable flour based on what they want to make.
Why do flours like chickpea flour, coconut flour, rice flour, and other similar flours have no coding?
The answer is that these flours are not typically used for baking. Even if they are used, they are not used independently. They have to be combined with one of the wheat-based flours to make the desired baked product.
Those who don’t know the correct ratios in which flours must be mixed to make multigrain bread, high protein bread, cornbread, etc., can buy bread baking mixes called Backmischung in German.
Check out this article about making bread using Backmishung.
Here is a table to understand different types of flours and their uses in baking:
|Type of Flour||Common Uses|
|Weizenmehl Typ 450/Dinkelmehl 630||Cakes, Cookies, Pastries|
|Weizenmehl Typ 550/Dinkel 1050||White Bread/Sandwich Bread/Brioche Bread|
|Weizenmehl Typ 812/Roggenmehl 997||Multigrain bread (light color)|
|Weizenmehl Typ 1050/Roggenmehl 1370||Multigrain bread (dark colour)|
|Roggenmehl 815||Rye bread|
Some notes for my Indian readers:
|Name||Name and common use in India|
|1. Dinkelmehl||Not so commonly available in India. However, Dinkelvollkornmehl can be used for making rotis, pooris, etc|
|2. Weizenmehl||Hartweizengries available in the German supermarket is Sooji. However, it is very fine and makes Upma, Halwa, etc., very paste-like. The flour form is not commonly available in India. However, you might find it in some specialty shops in India and can use it for making pasta at home. In Germany, if you want to make pasta at home, use Hartweizenmehl.|
|3. Hartweizenmehl||This is Safed Chane ka atta. Not to be confused with besan (made from chana dal). However, it can be used for making pakode, dhokla, Kadi, paratha, etc. This is also not very commonly available in India. People who want it get it done from a flour mill.|
|4. Buchweisenmehl||This is Kuttu ka atta’in Hindi. Commonly eaten during fast. Used for making puris, pakode, etc.|
|5. Roggenmehl||Not so commonly used in India but can be used for making roti, dosa, thalipeeth, etc.|
|6. Reismehl||This is Chawal ka atta. Used in making many south Indian delicacies like dosa, akki roti, and modaks and in many snacks like muruku, ribbon pakoda, and many more from other regions of India.|
|7. Maismehl||This is Makki ka atta in Hindi. The common use is making Makki ki roti and eating with Sarson ka saag.|
|8. Sojamehl||The more common use of soya in India is in the form of Soya chunks, soya chaap, etc. ( available readymade). However, this flour can be combined with wheat flour to make rotis, parathas, dosas, etc. Soya chaap can be made at home using Sojamehl.|
|9. Kokosmehl||This is not commonly used in India. More traditional uses of coconut in India are grated coconut, coconut milk, etc. However, people are experimenting with coconut flour for making laddoos, pancakes, etc.|
|10. Kichererbsenmehl||This is millet flour. Though some varieties are available in German supermarkets, you can get jowar atta, bajra atta, and ragi flour easily in Indian stores. These can be used in making dosas, thalipeeth, roti, etc|
|11. Hafermehl||Again, this has recently found its place in Indian homes. The more common use in India is oatmeal, which is eaten with milk/yogurt. In India, this flour is combined with other flours to make multigrain atta.|
|12. Hirsemehl||This is millet flour. Though some varieties are available in german supermarkets, you can get jowar atta, bajra atta, and ragi flour easily in Indian stores. These can be used in making dosas, thalipeeth, roti, etc|
I hope this article is helpful for my readers and helps them choose the right type of flour for the German supermarket.
Read my articles about other products in German supermarkets here.
Also, check out my recipes page, in which I have made delicious dishes using ingredients available in Germany.
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