What is Graham Flour?

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  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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Graham flour is a coarsely ground type of wheat flour that is unbleached, and less processed than whole-wheat flour. Its production starts by finely grinding the kernel or endosperm of winter wheat. The other parts of the wheat, germ, and bran are also ground and added back to the endosperm grind, resulting in brown colored flour that is slightly sweet. It isn’t always possible to find graham flour, but in the US, health food and natural foods stores often carry it.

This type of flour is named after Sylvester Graham, one of the pioneers of the health food movement. He invented the flour in 1829 and used it in many recipes featured at his chain of "health" hotels. In addition to advocating for the use of less refined wheat flour, Graham founded the American Vegetarian Society in 1850, though he had less than welcome receptions from large food manufacturers and butchers of the time.


He discovered, as many dietitians can attest to now, that it is usually healthier to eat whole grains than it is to eat overly processed food that contains a lot of chemicals. As a Presbyterian minister, his motives for advocating for healthier food choices may seem a little strange to the modern mind. He felt that bad food choices and the consumption of alcohol led to people being unable to curb their licentious behavior. To Graham, processed white flour equaled greater lust, and he urged his followers and friends to abstain from drink and to modify sexual behavior through diet and self control.

Today, most graham crackers on the grocery shelf may not actually be made with graham flour. A few brands do still use the flour, but most tend to derive their sweet taste from ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. Sylvester Graham would probably shudder at the modern version of his healthy cracker/cookie. People who like a more authentic graham cracker should try health food stores, as these may feature fewer sweeteners and preservatives.

In cooking, graham flour can usually be used in place of whole-wheat flour. It will produce a slightly darker bread as a result, but it can be quite tasty and sweet. Bakers can also consider graham muffins or quick breads as a quick and healthy snack. This flour does pair nicely with honey, as lovers of graham crackers know, so cooks might consider honey for sweetener in recipes where you use the flour.

Cooks should refrigerate the flour, or only buy it in small amounts. It has a higher oil content than whole-wheat flour and may go rancid if left out for too long. If the flour tastes bitter, it’s best to start with a fresh package.


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Post 3

What is the best way to cook with graham flour? Is it best by itself or mixed with other flours?

I think that graham flour is coarser than whole wheat correct? I generally mix whole wheat with unbleached flour when I make muffins so that they come out softer. If graham flour is more coarse than whole wheat flour, I think the breads and muffins will be too dense. Has anyone tried whole wheat and graham flour together for breads and muffins? I would love to hear some suggestions about what works best together and also how graham flour does with baking powder and yeast. I'm planning to make a healthier version of my signature cinnamon apple bread with graham flour. I hope it will be a success.

Post 2

A friend of mine had a baby about a year ago and she has been having trouble losing the weight she gained during the pregnancy. She read a couple of books about organic and unprocessed foods and started eating organic foods. Ever since she made the switch, the changes have been amazing. She is losing weight just by eating the same things she always eats, except that its now organic.

I had heard previously from scientists and dietitians that the less processing a food goes through, the better it is for the body. Apparently, when foods are processed, their chemistry changes and the body is unable to recognize them. What this means is that we have difficulty digesting processed

foods and absorbing the necessary nutrients from them.

I took my friend's suggestion and switched to organic and unprocessed foods. I eat breads with whole grain and spelt flours and I feel fuller with less food now. It does cost more, but it goes a long way too and tastes much better. At least I have peace of mind about the foods I'm eating.

Post 1

Thank you so much for this helpful, and insightful, article. My son is allergic to corn, so we have been avoiding graham without clearly understanding why until now (because corn sweeteners are often used in graham products). I'm grateful to you.

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