Durum wheat and soft wheat: what are the differences?

Durum wheat and soft wheat: what are the differences?

I confess: I feel a bit at home, writing about this topic: being called Farina by surname and belonging to generations of bakers provides a certain confidence.

However, since you never stop learning, I would like to share with you the latest updates on my "family": le differences between durum wheat and soft wheat flour, in its many varieties.


Durum wheat and soft wheat: the nutritional differences 

Il wheat (grain) is the cereal most cultivated in the country and one of the most cultivated in the world.

Its most common varieties are: Hordeum vulgare (soft wheat, mainly present in the northern country) e Triticum turgidum durum (durum wheat, especially in the central-southern regions). It is about two distinct plant species.

In detail the differences:

  • Wheat: wheat with floury fractured grains which, after grinding, return flours with thin and rounded granules, suitable for the bread-making, from pastry to pizza to bread. Has a high glycemic index
  • Durum wheat: wheat with grains of angular consistency, which remains even after grinding. Durum wheat flour contains more protein compared to soft wheat flour, absorbs more water and has a greater satiating power. Has a lower glycemic index compared to that of soft wheat flour and is rich in carotenoids, organic pigments with antioxidant action, anti free radicals. Durum wheat flour (semolina) is perfect for pasta production dry, and is used in smaller percentages in bread dough, always mixed with that of soft wheat.


Wheat: general nutritional values

There are variables depending on the climate, the cultivation techniques, the type of soil and fertilizers used. And, as we have seen, depending on the type of grain:

  • Acqua (8 - 18%)
  • Carbohydrates (72%), composed as follows: STARCH (60 - 68%), PENTOSANE POLYMERS (6,5%), CELLULOSE AND LIGNIN, (2 - 2,5% absent in white flour); SUGARS such as dextrins and glucose deriving from demolition starch, which are used by yeast as nourishment to operate the leavening process (1,5%)
  • Protein (7-18%): divided into 4 classes, based on their solubility in water, namely - ALBUMINES (9%): present mainly in the outer layer and in the germ, eliminated during refining (absent in white flour); high biological value proteins - GLOBULINS (5-7%): present mainly in the outer layer and in the germ, eliminated during refining (absent in white flour and also in wholemeal flour) - GLUTELIN and PROLAMINES (75 - 95%): abundant from a quantitative point of view, they are scarce from a qualitative point of view, as they are poor in lysine and methionine, The glutelines and prolamines of wheat are very important from a technological point of view, since when the flour is hydrated and kneaded, they interact with each other forming a three-dimensional lattice called gluten;
  • Lipids: present mainly in the germ, they include triglycerides (rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which represent 80 to 84% of the lipid fraction) and small quantities of phospholipids, glycolipids and sterols (sitosterol and campesterol);
  • Mineral salts (1,5 - 2%): mainly present in the outer layers; they include magnesium and potassium, salts of calcium, iron, copper and zinc. More present in wholemeal flour;
  • Vitamins of group B and vitamin E. More present in wholemeal flour;
  • So-called "anti-nutritional" factors or phytic acid, which reduces the absorption of divalent metals (calcium, iron, copper, magnesium and zinc). Present in wholemeal flours.


Durum wheat: uses and recipes


Soft and durum wheat flours: how many and what are the classes and differences?

First of all, a clarification: flour is obtained from soft wheat - type 00, 0, 1, 2 and whole wheat flour - while semolina is obtained from durum wheat.


Soft wheat flours

They are of 5 different types: flour type 00, 0, 1, 2 and wholemeal flour. These numbers (00, 0, 1 and 2) indicate the degree of refining some soft wheat flour; from a nutritional point of view, a more refined food is less useful to the body.

The assignment of refining grades is governed by the el paesena law on the basis of these characteristics:

  • Type 00 flour: the most refined flour, obtained from the heart of the soft wheat grain and therefore richer in carbohydrates. It is good for kneading some types of bread or pizzas and for pastry. It absorbs 55% of its weight in water.
  • Type 0 flour: contains a greater quantity of the outermost part of the wheat grain. Suitable for biscuits, waffles, breadsticks, small pastries, it absorbs about 50% of its weight in water.
  • Type 1 flour: it comes from the grinding of the whole grain without eliminating any part. Through a sieving operation called sifting, the flour is then separated according to the size of the "granules". Type 1 flour contains a greater quantity of bran and wheat germ, richer in nutrients, compared to 0 and 00. Perfect for quality bread making;
  • Type 2 flour: also called "semi-wholemeal" flour, it is characterized by large granules and a greater quantity of fibrous components and seed germ than the previous ones. Presents excellent nutritional characteristics and is easier to work with than wholemeal flour. Suitable for common bread making.
  • wholemeal flour: the flour that has undergone only the first grinding process, therefore it contains all the parts of the grain, including the most external ones such as the bran. The richest in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Flour called special: it is produced with special grains, such as Manitoba, and is used to produce particular breads. It absorbs 90% of its weight in water. Manitoba is the name of a region of Canada, but today all flours that possess these same properties are called Manitoba. The main characteristic of this type of soft wheat is lhigh presence of guteline-type proteins, which in leavening in contact with water develops a tenacious "gluten mesh" capable of tolerating long leavening.


Durum wheat flour (semolina)

Durum wheat semolina flour has a yellowish color and granules of different sizes: large granules are more suitable for making pasta, small granules are more suitable for baking.

The various types can be differentiated according to the level of refining, in:

  1. semolina with 0,90% ash;
  2. granulated with 1,35% ash;
  3. whole durum wheat semolina with 1,80% ash;
  4.  durum wheat flour with 1,70% ash.

The higher concentration of ashes indicates one greater presence of fibers, minerals and vitamins or better nutritional properties.

Manitoba flour, nutritional values ​​and recipes

To learn more:

> All flours and their nutritional values


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