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flour. Budapest was the star milling city of the world until about 1890, when it was eclipsed by Minneapolis. The mills of Hungary have the best equipment obtainable, and the wheat is carefully graded for milling. Hungarian flour of the first quality commands a higher price in the English market than the best Minneapolis flour. Sometimes it sells as much as a dollar per barrel higher than any other flour. The reason for this lies not so much in a superior process of manufacture, as in the fact that this flour is the product of the very best wheat obtained by the close system of grading. American millers find it more profitable to make more flour of a slightly lower grade. It may be that the difference in price is also partly accounted for by English prejudice.
The first roller mills of Great Britain, dating from 1878, were said to be unsuccessful. It was not until the middle eighties that a respectable body of roller millers had sprung up. It is estimat'd that they numbered 400 to 500 in 1891. Two years later there were 664 complete roller plants, while at the present time 900 is the estimate. These mills have a daily capacity of about 247,000 barrels of flour, and a yearly capacity of 61,715,000 barrels. This is over ten million barrels more than is annually consumed in the Kingdom, and takes no account of the millstone flour production. In 1878 there were 10,000 millstone flour mills in Great Britain. Perhaps 6,000 or 7,000 of these still exist, but few of them grind wheat. There has been active competition between American and British milling interests for the milling of the Kingdom, with the advantage slightly on the British side on account of the freight discriminations between wheat and flour. The flour mills are now being built at the quayside instead of inland, as formerly. Liverpool is one of the largest milling centers of the world.
The modern roller system has been in operation in Russia nearly 30 years. The work of the mills along the Volga and in south Russia compares very favorably with that of mills in the United States or Hungary. Dampening the wheat is an important part of the milling process, for most of the grain is extremely dry, and their softer red wheats are fully as hard as our hard spring wheat from the Red river vally. The flour is of a golden color and highly nutritious. Their product seldom reaches the world's markets. After they become accustomed to it, most persons prefer it to any other.
Argentine wheat growing began to develop in 1880, and before 1895 over 300 mills had been built, an increase of nearly 100 per cent. The milling industry was so overdone that many mills went to ruin. In 1901, the annual producing capacity of the Argentine mills was stated at over 13,000,000 barrels, but the exportation and internal consumption did not equal half of this amount. It is especially the large mills of the interior that have had little to do. High taxes were a great disadvantage. New mills were, however, erected in the ports in 1903. These mills were equipped with the most modern machinery, and turn out an excellent product. The flour yield averages about 66 per cent. There is little home demand for by-products, and they are disposed of chiefly by exportation. It requires great economy to make milling profitable, and the industry will very probably be confined to the chief river and ocean ports, and to the small and comparatively unimportant local gristmills. On the whole, milling in Argentina is progressing slowly, and in other South American countries it is only local.
American competition crippled the Dutch mills in Holland, but they are regaining their trade on account of freight discriminations. In 1902, The Netherlands ranked second in importance as a market for American flour, Great Britain being first. Tariffs drove American flour out of Belgium, but Belgium millers suffer from ruinous competition among themselves. In Canada, mill-building is active, and both foreign and domestic trade is carried on. During 1903 flour-milling in New Zealand and Australia was temporarily at a standstill on account of crop failures, but it is usually an important industry. Progress in New Zealand seems to have been slow in this industry during the last few years, apparently on account of- over-capitalization and over-production. The Chinese and Japanese have erected some flour mills, and they are ambitious to do their own milling, but success in this is no1 yet assured.
The Whole Wheat was used by the ancients for food. Pliny describes "amylum," a food prepared from unground wheat, which was first soaked, and then hardened into cakes in the sun. At an early date in England whole wheat, known as "i'rumity," was used as food. Here the grain was also soaked, and then boiled with milk and sweetened. Ordinarily wheat is no longer used as human food without first being ground or crushed. Where mills are wanting, as is sometimes the case in frontier and in savage life, the grain is often simply parched or boiled. The Arabs, for example, have a dish known as "kouskous," which is made by boiling fermented wheat.
The Uses of Different Flours.—When wheat is ground by the modern processes many different grades of flour result, not only from different kinds and grades of wheat, but also from the same grade or variety. Over 50 direct milling products may result from grinding one grade of wheat. These products differ so in quality that many of them are each most suitable for a certain purpose of consumption. What is true of one grade or variety of wheat in this respect is true also of different grades and kinds of wheat, and the products differ more widely yet.
Hard-Wheat Flour.—Hard wheat, of which the spring wheat of the Red river valley and the Turkey red wheat of Kansas are excellent examples, produces the flour that stands for the world's white-loaf bread, or "light bread." This flour is rich in gluten, which readily absorbs a considerable quantity of water. As gluten becomes wet, it swells to several times its dry bulk, and it grows elastic and tenacious. Gluten is the nitrogenous or tissue-building part of the wheat, and it supplies the same important food elements as are furnished by lean meat and the casein of milk.
Soft-Wheat Flour.—The flour made from soft wheat is the best flour for crackers (English "biscuits"), cake, pastry, and the hot 'soda biscuits" so common in the southern portion of the United States. The respective uses of hard and soft-wheat flour are well defined and clearly recognized by bakers, millers, and wholesale dealers. Soft-wheat flour has more starch and less gluten than hard-wheat flour. It makes a whiter, and, in a certain popular estimation, a more attractive loaf, but it is less nutritious, and has a poorer flavor. Tenacity of gluten, so essential for good bread, becomes undesirable "toughness" in pastry and cake. In pastry, porosity is rendered unnecessary by "shortening," and In cake it is obtained with greater delicacy by adding the beaten albumen of eggs. Soft-wheat flour, having less gluten, is most suitable for these products. The thinly rolled and thoroughly baked cracker has the best color, texture and crispness when made from soft-wheat flour. Pastry and cake in some of their many varied forms are so universally a part of the daily diet of America and Europe that softwheat flour :^ sometimes designated in the markets as "pastry" flour.
Durum-Wheat Flour.—The flour from durum wheats has hitherto been used chiefly in the manufacture of macaroni and similar products. Its special fitness for this is its high gluten content. Bread made from this flour has a fine flavor, but a dark color. Because of the latter fact, and because of the fact that durum wheat requires special milling processes, there has been a prejudice against it as a bread wheat. With the great increase in the production of durum wheats in the United States, these difficulties are being removed, and it is very probable that its use for bread-making will greatly increase. It has long lieen used as a bread wheat in parts of Russia and France.
Graham' Flour contains the whole grain, and is made by cleaning the wheat and grinding it to a moderate degree of fineness. Soft wheat is the most suitable for making this flour, which, however, is used chiefly for bread.
Entire-Wheat Flour is prepared by a process similar to that used in milling graham flour, only that between the cleaning and grinding it is run through a machine which removes the three outer layers of the berry. This leaves the cerealin in the flour, but removes the bran. This also is a bread flour.
1 So called from Graham, a temperance reformer of a century ago. who advocated bread made from unbolted meal as an aid In curing alcoholism.
Self-Raising Flour is produced by mixing leavening agents with flour, such as form the essential constituents of ordinary baking powder. The addition of water liberates the carbon dioxide, and a spongy dough results. Self-raising flour has had little commercial importance.
The Comparative Value of Different Flours.—The nourishment that can be obtained from flour depends upon its chemical composition and digestibility. Of the different flours that can be made from the same lot of wheat, graham flour contains the greatest proportion of protein and phosphates. Experiments have shown, however, that patent flour has the greatest amount of available or digestible protein and other food elements. More phosphates are present in white bread than are needed or absorbed by the body. The lower digestibility of graham flour is due to the bran, both because of its resistance to digestion, and because of its physiological action. The lower grades of flour, although not of such a fine white color, are yet highly nutritious, and yield a bread that is quite thoroughly digested. Since nitrogenous foods are proportionately more expensive than starchy foods, and since wheat is cheaper than lean meat, all wheat products are economical food, and those containing a high percentage of gluten are especially so.
Commercial Brands or Grades of Flour.—To a greater or less extent each miller manufactures a flour that, on account of the closeness of grinding, the proportions of the different kinds of wheat, or for other causes, is peculiar to his mill. His flour is branded, and a trade arises for his particular brand. As he has a monopoly of this brand, his business is largely non-competitive. "While the brands of flour reduce competition for the wholesaler, they increase competition for the retailer, who must meet in the brands that he handles the prices of all other brands. The wholesale baking trade generally demands a sharp granular flour with a great capacity for absorbing water, whereas the household trade requires a finer granulation and a whiter color. The foreign trade prefers a strong granular flour with little regard to color, for the flour bleaches during the time consumed in transportation. In some of the larger markets, authorized flour inspectors stamp the packages with a brand which indicates the date of the inspection, the weight of the package, and