A few months ago a friend stopped me on the street to ask me if I knew anything about 70 and 100% flour; she had learned about it from her children living in the Jerusalem area. Many religious like-minded women in the Tel Aviv area are constantly looking for good sources of flour. Standard bleached white flour is readily available here, and while cheap, it must be sifted for bugs, and results in goods with a gluey consistency that are not good for your digestion. I don’t feel good about spending time baking for my family with such an inferior product. I can buy whole wheat flour in the grocery store, but who knows how long it has been sitting there. It’s also hard to sift properly, and many rabbis prohibit using it for that reason.
Early on in my years here, I heard about whole wheat flour that was refrigerated shortly after it was ground. For the first 24 hours after grinding, flour is presumed to be bug-free because any bugs present in the wheat have been ground up. thus becoming halachically negligible. If the flour is then stored in a sealed bag and placed in the refrigerator or freezer, it can be kept indefinitely and used without sifting.
Fortunately there are a few ways to get this type of flour.
- Go to a mill and buy a 50-lb. sack yourself. For a while a friend and I made the trip to Jerusalem to get fresh “70%” whole wheat flour. She took a sack and divided it up among her community and I divided it up among mine. It was messy, but I never had any problem finding takers. 70% means that 30% of the fibers have been sieved off. I like the 70% for challah and pizza dough. It’s coarser than standard flour and makes a lot of crumbs, but it’s easy to work with and has a lovely yellow color.
- Order from a mill. We once ordered several sacks of 100% from a mill in the north. They charged us NIS 150 for delivery (and the driver still protesting having to bring it up in the elevator), so we haven’t done that very often. The flour from the mills has a tag with rabbinical certification and the date of grinding. I use the 100% for cakes, because it is much finer, but the texture is also crumbly and the color darker.
- A health food store in Jerusalem, Teva Net, sells both kinds in one-kilogram bags at a reasonable price. Whenever we go to Jerusalem on a weekday (or can find a willing victim) we call in advance to see if they have received fresh flour . We generally buy 40 kilograms at a time to pack in my freezer, but we always seem to run out when we don’t have a trip to Jerusalem planned, and we can’t bring ourselves to make a special trip. This type doesn’t come with a hechsher; you need to feel comfortable relying on the health food store that the flour is fresh. There’s no problem with the kashruth of the flour itself if the store has certification; the only question is whether it requires sifting or not.
- I recently learned that the health food chain Nitzat Haduvdevan, that stocks 70% flour, has a chain in Bnei Brak. It’s more expensive than in Jerusalem but still more reasonable than the packaged type with a hechsher that has also come out on the market and is readily available in many haredi grocery stores and health food stores. I was in Bnei Brak the other day so I went to their branch and got some, but they didn’t stock the 100%. You still need to call to ask whether they got any in that day. Fortunately my son will be in Jerusalem this week and will carry home as much 100% as he can on the bus.
- I heard about a fellow from Itamar in the Shomron who sells home-grown, organic stone-ground flour at a reasonable price, but I haven’t tried it yet.
I rely on this kind of flour because aside from health reasons, I hate sifting. I’ve tried the different contraptions but they still take a long time and are hard on my wrist. And I can never get the base back on after I take the sifter apart. I even bought a new one and it worked fine in the store, but after washing once at home even my husband couldn’t manage it. I tried warming it up but it didn’t help.