Rye flour types and where to buy them
This blog is using British rye flour names paired with German flour grading. German flour grades (types) are a golden standard in my opinion and are also used outside of Germany. But since this blog is in English and I, the author, happen to live in UK, it makes sense to me to use British naming conventions.
The issue with British names is that there are no flour standards and regulations currently in UK, so the exact meaning of the terms vary by brand. To make things even more confusing, other English speaking countries are using slightly different terminology. And they also have no standards whatsoever. I’ll try my best in this post to provide some guidance on how to deal with this mess.
German grading is based on ash content of flour and dates back to 30s of XX century. The higher the ash content, the more whole grain the flour is. This is true for all types of flour in Germany. Rye grading starts at 700 and ends with 1740. Grades above 1740 are reserved for rye meal, eg crushed grains instead of flour. More information about German flour grading can be found here.
Austria is using a similar system to German one with slight numbering differences. But usually German and Austrian flours with similar grade numbers can replace each other without any real impact on the final bread.
UK and US are using colour lightness of the flour to describe how whole the flour is. The following table tries to match British and American terms to German and Austrian grades.
White and light rye flour availability might be an issue in some places, but Russian sources indicate that they are interchangeable in home baking and should not affect the end result.
Shipton Mill is a well-known and trusted source of flour in Britain. They sell high quality products at reasonable prices and they are my go to source for everything flour related. But their rye selection is extremely limited: 2 flour types and chopped grain. Their naming is also a bit wrong since they call Type 1350 a Dark Rye Flour (it is Medium), but at least their flour has German grading, so that makes everything a lot simpler.
Doves farm is the only producer of White Rye Flour I know of. No grading, sadly. Their range can be found in many supermarkets. Their Dark Rye Flour (called Wholemeal for some reason…) is also very good.
Main issue with British flour is that it is not milled fine enough and it feels more like fine meal than proper flour. My recommendation would be to buy rye flour from Austria from Piccantino online shop. They have the following flours:
I have never been to US, so my recommendations are no more than a speculation here, but Internet is ull of positive reviews of King Arthur Flour. Their rye selection is quite limited and they don’t provide any grading references. This is everything they have:
- White Rye Flour - Type 815 I believe
- Medium Rye Flour - Type 1370 I believe
- Dark Rye Flour or Fine Rye Meal - Type 1740 or 1800
Ginsberg has a good post on rye flour in his blog and he mentions different American flour manufacturers. I think it is worth checking out if you live in US and want to bake some great rye breads. He also has plenty of recipes there and he wrote probably the only good book about baking rye in English language.
If you happen to live in rye countries like Germany, Latvia, Finland or Russia, then you hit a jackpot! All of the rye flour variety is available in your local supermarket any day of the year and your country has some set standards about its quality.
If you are not so lucky, try ordering flour from German online shops like backstars.de. Delivery might be expensive though.
I don’t know, sadly. If you have any information on where to buy quality rye flour in your country - please let me know and I will update this post accordingly.
P.S. 02.06.2020 update: added Austrian flours, removed outdated or misleading information.