Treating wheats with low Falling Numbers

by Emily Wilson
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Dear editor,

The article "New grades for French wheats" (see World Grain, May 2000, page 34) mentioned that one can remedy flours that have a Falling Number below 180 by increasing the amount of time the ferment culture is left to mature or by increasing the length of fermentation. In my opinion, this solution will only make the situation worst.

A Falling Number of 180 indicates a high concentration of amylases and a high diastatic activity; by increasing the time of fermentation, the amylases will have even more time to break down the starch molecules, which will result in a sticky dough and bread crumb.

I think that the way to go about treating wheats with low Falling Number is by blending them with wheats of high Falling Numbers so as to achieve the desired diastatic.

Nicolas Tsikhlakis

Modern Flour Mills,

Amman, Jordan

Editor's reply: Mr. Tsikhlakis, is quite perceptive. The sentence in question should have read, "When the Falling Number is above 250, correction can be made through the addition of amylases; a number below 180 can be remedied by decreasing the amount of time the ferment culture is left to mature or by decreasing the length of the primary fermentation."

In response to Mr. Tsikhlakis' opinion that the best way to treat wheats with low Falling Number is to blend them with wheats of high Falling Numbers, Jean Gault, director of French Cereals Export, Paris, adds a note of caution.

"The result of, say, a 50-50 blend of wheat with a Falling Number of 300 and wheat with a Falling Number of 150 will not be a blend with an Hagberg index of 225, but often far below," Mr. Gault said.

"The diastasic activity of the weak wheat will contaminate the strong wheat. As it happens, blending does not always represent a satisfactory solution. And below 120, the batch of wheat is considered to be inappropriate for baking."

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