Doesn’t that sound like a contradiction in terms? The first few times I saw “white whole wheat” on a label, I assumed it was one of those “tricky” marketing gimmicks and ignored it, or more accurately spurned it.
But wheat has been interesting to me over the years as I’ve explored a wide range of options from baking with normal old white all-purpose flour, using whole wheat extensively, going gluten-free (no wheat at all), and pondering the options of ancient grains such as Einkorn…I decided one day to satisfy my curiosity and actually find out what “white whole wheat” was.
Well, lo and behold, white wheat is merely another type of wheat, different from the red wheat most commonly grown in the U.S. It has no major genes for bran color — as the Whole Grains Council says, you might think of it as albino wheat. Yes, it’s hybridized (as is virtually all wheat, except for the ancient Einkorn) but it’s not GMO (or genetically modified.) It’s actually the most common variety of wheat in some other countries (Australia, notably) but has traditionally been only a tiny portion of the amount of wheat grown in the U.S. This has begun to change.
Ironically, the change initially came to help boost sagging wheat exports, but has had the side benefit of bringing whole wheat flour made from white wheat to the grocery store shelves. Locally I’ve bought Wheat Montana brand (pictured above) which appeals to me as being from a family farm, not all that far from here (in the great scheme of things) but I’ve also noticed that the legendary (ha! no pun intended) King Arthur Flour offers an organic white whole wheat, too, which I’ll probably try at some point.
And why would you want white wheat, you ask? Well, at the moment I’m not getting into the argument about whether you want wheat at all — that’s a discussion for another time, another blog post — but if you do eat “regular” modern wheat, many people find that white wheat offers a lighter color and milder flavor, but with the health benefits of consuming the whole grain rather than a highly refined white flour. Some bakers claim in reviews for various whole white wheat flours that it bakes up with a slightly less dense texture than traditional whole [red] wheat, making tastier baked goods.
So, for now it’s what’s in my flour bin. And I’ve liked using it so far, so I’ll report further as I try other things with it.