Accademia Italiana della Pizza

Is stone-ground flour healthier than rolled-milled flour? The 00 flour, is it really refined? Let's get this straight!

January 20, 2018

For years now, we have heard of stone-ground flour as if it was a healthy return to the past and the best pizza flour. Some stone-ground flour producers have demonized the 00 flour, to the point of calling it poison, in an attempt to profit on the negative impact these fake news have. Are these flours really dangerous? I must admit that at the beginning of the stone-ground flour trend, I had come to believe that this was the healthy option, and that the 00 flour was harmful because it was too "refined". At that point I didn’t know better and had believed these stories without researching and informing myself from serious sources.

Considering that in the world of pizza there has always been a great deal of ignorance among pizza makers, it has been easy to spread fake information tailored to sell a flour accordingly. Who first started the stone-ground flour trend, even though the amount present in the 25 kg bags is only a small percentage, knew that in order to sell a product that costs 10 times more per kg would have to come up with something shocking, they had to then propose it with a strong motivation, otherwise no pizza chef would have preferred to pay for kilo €2.5 or more instead of €0.70. At this point, the stone-ground flour was being considered the come back to the past as a healthier choice, proposed as the only flour rich in vitamins, demonizing the 00 flour that everyone used, passing the message that this flour is synthetic and even carcinogenic, something absolutely false! Do you know these false messages passed around? Because they were in front of an audience of pizza makers that unfortunately, for most cases, do not really know how things are and even though they are aware of not knowing the truth, if they hear certain things said by a technician of a mill that they consider an expert or a master pizza maker, which actually makes the economic interests of that mill, they will believe the message and since they have not studied are not able to counteract theories that they do not know and accept as the only truth even they are false theories. Once they have accepted, without verifying, these new philosophies just because they heard them from a flour technician or by a so-called master, they are convinced that the 00 flour they used until then is refined and dangerous for our health and that the only right and healthy option is the stone-ground flour and once convinced of this are willing to spend 10 times more to make the pizzas with that flour unknowingly falling into the game of that mill.

The millstone of a mill runs at 300 revolutions per minute while the metal cylinder of the modern mill rotates at 400 rpm. The iron or titanium cylinder, even though it turns faster, produces less heat as a result of the friction, due to the plants used in modern mills equipped with a cooling system that does not exist in the stone mill, in addition there is to say that the stone grinder exerts greater friction than the cylinder.

The overheating of the flour given by the stone mill creates two problems:

  • Loss of vitamins and other nutrients because they are dispersed with heat.
  • Due to the heat, the wheat germ which is a fat, tends to accelerate its own process of rancidity.

If you want to see to believe; go to a stone mill and touch the flour that comes out of the mill and feel its temperature then do the same in an industrial, roller mill, and see for yourself which of the two flours comes out hotter from the mill. The first one, stone-ground, will be warm and the roller milled cold.

It should also be considered that the stone millstones use, unlike the cylinders, tear with use and releases small stone slags that get mixed with the flour, even after sifted, the flour will still have stone traces that will remain and increase the risks for the health in a long term, especially kidney problems. Would you risk eating stone dust with flour?

So now tell me: what would be the added value of stone-ground flour? I do not see anybody in case I see some disadvantages that's why I say that stone-ground flours are just an excuse to sell flour at a high price. If then who produces it says that these are flour richer in fiber and vitamins you can very well use a type 1 or type 2 milled cylinders that in my opinion are much better. I wrote this article because I recently saw a video of a self-styled teacher who proposes himself as a gourmet pizza expert saying he is also a technician of a mill that produces stone-ground flours, he looks at courses proposing only this type of flour.

It will be fine if he wasn’t talking nonsense against the flour 00 during his courses to buy pizza chefs into buy these flours that he represents.

I’m not sure if this so-called teacher actually believes what he says or if he’s just putting on a show for the mill, but stating that the 00 flour is poisonous, synthetic and refined, is not only a display of ignorance but a very serious issue, especially for someone who proposes himself as an expert matter and a great teacher. Who knows if the mill is aware of these strategies used by their technician, I guess so because it is convenient to take advantage of someone spreading false information to sell out of ignorance from many people who rather believe than read and investigate, using serious sources, before jumping into conclusions just because someone says so.

An expert matter, as he claims to be, should know that the 00 flour is not refined but is "sifted" and technically should be defined "dusted", you should never use the term refined referring to a 00. The flour 00, through an absolutely natural separation process, is completely deprived of parts such as: integuments, fibers, germs, etc, but it’s not a synthetic process nor poisonous.

This gradual process divides the flour into 5 types: 00, 0, 1, 2 and whole wheat.

This measure is obtained through the "Flourishment Rate" which is the actual yield of ground wheat flour.

This is the rate of sifting by type of flour, what is obtained from 100 kg of wheat; 50 kg of flour 00, 72 kg of flour 01, 80 kg of flour type 1, 85 kg of flour type 2, no sifting for the whole wheat flour since 100% of the ground grain remains.

The word "refined" is not a proper term because refining is an exclusively chemical process, which is not the case for flour, the refining process is used in petrol or olive pomace oil compared to extra virgin olive oil, in both of these cases the use of external chemical agents for the separation of parts from a substance is allowed. The proper word to use for when referring to flour is: sieved or sifted.

The popper use of words is important, to use the word "refined" to indicate a flour 00 is inaccurate and misleading, since it may be taken as if this flour has been chemically processed with solvents, instead of a natural process, therefore if it may be seen as harmful or unhealthy, which is far from the truth. Dear Pizza Chefs, not knowing something is not a crime but not knowing something doesn’t have to mean believing anything anyone says.

Always try to understand who you are dealing with and if that person talking is entitled to speak or has the knowledge to do so; so how does someone who only has an elementary school degree and has always worked as a Pizza Chef becomes a chemical technician to explain milling processes that doesn’t even fully understand?

Whenever someone comes to you with defamatory theories don’t accept them as if they were accurate without investigating, especially if it is coming from another Pizza Chef who is pretending to be a technician without ever really studying chemical processes but still calls himself a flour expert matter.

Base your investigations on serious scientific books that you can find in bookstores, for example, milling techniques and if you really want to understand the milling techniques, visit a Mill to see with your own eyes if what they say is true, but do not limit to just one mill so you can compare the information they give you.

Behind some self-made Pizza Chefs who organizes courses sponsored by a mill, like the one I was referring to who defends the stone-ground flour, there is only one goal, to sell, even if that means discrediting other flours by spreading false information.

Don’t believe everything you hear or see, especially if it is on YouTube because, you will find countless videos of people who are nor expert matters calling the 00 flours refined" and poisonous.

For example, personally I prefer type 1 and type 2 flours, but I don’t take this as a reason to say that the 00 flours are poisonous, harmful or unhealthy. Whenever someone tries to convince you that the 00 flours are dangerous ask them; if they actually represent a danger for the health, how come the NAS hasn’t taken them from the market yet?

I'm not a technician or a flour expert matter, in order to write this article all I did was document myself from disinterested sources and if I did it you can do it too, so don’t be fooled!

Arturo Mazzeo
Presidente Pizzaitalianacademy