Italian Flour

The Italians throw us something of a curve ball when it comes to flour classification. Whereas just about everyone else on the Continent thinks about flour in terms of ash content, Italians think in terms of grind. Their naming system reflects that, with Type 00 being the finest grind and Type 2 being the coarsest. But just as with the ash content system, the Italian numbering system tells you more about the flour than you might think. It gives you important clues about about the flour’s composition.

The lower the flour’s number on the grind scale, the lower the flour’s extraction rate. Meaning that a Type 00 flour is made from the starchier, softer inner wheat endosperm, and a Type 2 flour is going to be made with that, plus a high proportion of the very outer, harder, bran-containing endosperm. Granted, the number system doesn’t explicitly say that, but whereas an American would hear “low extraction” and think “wow, that must be a pretty fine grind”, an Italian would hear “fine grind” and think, “wow, that must be a pretty low extraction rate”. So it’s the same thing, but where we state the extraction and infer the grind, Italians state the grind and infer the extraction. I trust that makes at least a little sense to everyone, yes?