Monday, July 7, 2008

Wheat Flour Substitutes

Online contributor

Now that the price of wheat flour is always rising and the taste of bread is getting lesser and its sizes diminishing, it’s time to look for a substitute or alternative flour. However, it’s not wise to completely abandon the use of wheat flour in making breads and cakes. To lessen the expenses of buying sacks of wheat flour, which we import from the USA, Canada or China, our local manufacturers or flour millers should turn to rootcrops like camote, gabi, ubi and palao.

I have read an article that camote can be made into flour.Camote, considered by some people as the poor man’s staple, is nutritious as it contains some vitamins and minerals. If camote can be made into flour, it is also possible that other rootcrops like gabi, ubi, palao and other edible rootcrops under the gabi family can be made into flour.

We should exclude cassava (kamoting kahoy or balanghoy in Visayan term) as alternative flour since this rootcrop is not recommended for eating by the doctors to those who have goiter. With the ubiquitous availability of flour substitutes/alternatives in the near future nationwide from the four aforementioned rootcrops, the ratio of mixture for both bread and cake should be 50 percent wheat flour, 25% camote and 25% gabi or ubi or palao.

By these 2 or 3 combinations of flour substitutes, bakery owners throughout the country can save some money for buying wheat flour without minimizing the palatability or deliciousness of a bread, sopas, cake and other bakery products. Bread and cake eaters can also get a double nutritional value from such kind of mixture which can be sold in cheap price to the customers. Squash puree can also be added as the third party ingredients if bakery owners so desire to boost the reputation of their respective bakeries.

Our agriculture experts and scientists must start now doing a research on some edible Philippine rootcrops and legumes if it can be converted into flour. If a series of experimentations would prove that these organic plants are viably versatile for flour conversion, a milling machine must also invented design to suit the plants texture in the milling process. The kind of milling machine to be invented should be unique that will retain its high percentage of the flour’s vitamins and minerals. What’s the benefit of eating plant flour if it’s already devoid of its vitamins and minerals contents due to the application of various stages of refinement process?

When some applied measures necessary for the attainment of our objective have already been realized, our millers, producers and businessmen who are engaged in the mass production and selling of rootcrops’ flour must not be tempted to export it to other countries, like what I’ve read about the camote flour. They must first serve the 88 million Filipinos who are in need of nutritious flour to help lessen our malnutrition problem afflicting millions of young and old. It should be made available in every municipality and city in all regions of the country where there are bakery establishments. Our farmers should also be encouraged and persuaded to plant more and more rootcrops and legumes, aside from rice, fruits and vegetables in their vacant lots and farms. This is in order to sustain the needed materials in the mass production of local flour that could be mixed with 50% wheat flour. The achievement of a self-sufficiency status in local flour production from rootcrops and legumes would eventually lessen our expenses in buying imported wheat flour, which is already very expensive nowadays. It would be good and better to experiment if, like grapes, wheat can also be grown here in the Philippines.

It would be better still if bakery owners would shift to using brown sugar to sweeten their breads and cakes since it contains vitamins and minerals, compared to refined sugar that only gives us sweet and nothing else. What’s wrong if your bread or cake now looks brown because of brown sugar? Although white color can easily attract the eyes of the beholder, in its superficial sense of beauty, but when it comes to food nutrition, color white would mean nothing important if it does not contain vitamins and minerals needed for the body.

On the other hand, attracting more consumers/customers to buy bread and other bakery products in a certain bakery would always depends on how the master baker has balanced the various ingredients he puts in each of his cooked product that would become palatable when eaten. It would also mean that each bakery or the master baker himself has to maintain the ingredients formulated in each kind of bake for sale. Taking out 2 or 3 of the formulated ingredients of a certain type of bread would unwittingly mean driving away some of patronizers, which is detrimental to ones business.