Hard Red Wheat vs. Hard White Wheat - Bob's Red Mill Blog
Hard Red Wheat vs. Hard White Wheat
Healthy Living, Recipes on July 15, 2010 by

Hard Red Wheat vs. Hard White Wheat

As you might have noticed, here at Bob’s Red Mill we have a huge selection of different types of grains and flours to choose from. One of the questions that we are asked most often here in the bakery is the difference between two specific kinds: hard red wheat and hard white wheat. We thought we’d take a minute to give you some information to help you pick out the flour that is best for your baking needs.

What is the difference between hard red wheat and hard white wheat?

The terms “red” and “white” are used to identify the color of the kernel. Hard Red Wheat has a reddish hue to the bran (exterior layer) of the kernel. In comparison, Hard White Wheat has a sandy-beige color to its bran. Though the kernels differ in color, the flour that is milled from these kernels is relatively indistinguishable in color.

Hard Red Wheat has a high protein content while Hard White Wheat has a moderate protein content.

Though both hard red wheat and hard white wheat belong to the same wheat species, they are classified differently because of their color and protein content.

Should I use hard red wheat or hard white wheat in my baking?

Red wheat has a slightly higher amount of protein which makes it better for more rustic, artisan, and generally harder bread loaves. In contrast, hard white wheat’s more moderate level of protein makes for softer loaves such as your typical pan loaves and dinner rolls. In the bakery, we use hard white wheat to create a single-twisted sliced pan loaf that is very soft in texture.

Is there a flavor difference between hard red wheat and hard white wheat?

Yes, there is a flavor difference between hard red and hard white wheat. It's thought that the same genes that give Hard Red Wheat its darker bran also contribute to its nuttier (sometimes experienced as bitter) flavor. The lighter colored bran of Hard White Wheat is thought to coincide with a sweeter and milder taste.

Of course, the best way to discover which flour is the one that you prefer is to test both out for yourself. Here is the recipe that our Quality Control Laboratory uses to test all our batches of flour for consistent quality. If you try this experiment at home, you will find that just the difference in flours makes for vastly different types of loaves of bread. Our Lab uses a machine that makes consistent 1.5 lb loaves.

Test Loaf Recipe
for a 1.5 lb loaf

1 ½ cups plus 2 Tbsp Warm Water (above 80 degrees Fahrenheit)
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
3 ¾ cups Flour (Hard Red, Hard White, or Unbleached White All Purpose)
2 Tbsp of Sugar
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Active Dry Yeast

Add the ingredients to your machine in the order listed above. Start the machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Be sure to share the results of your experiments with friends and family!

 


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93 Comments

  1. G.
    thank you for the mention on twitter! i LOVE Bob's Red Mill for my bread making.
    Reply
  2. deb
    Bob,we talked about dry ice to store red wheat berries I bought your large plastic storage containers. How do I do it? How much ice and what do you place between the ice and wheat? How long to displace the o2 or deplete the ice? Thanks
    Reply
  3. TheoC
    Forgive me, I'm new to this...
    So, what is the difference between Hard White Wheat and Unbleached White?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Hard White Wheat Flour is a 100% whole grain whole wheat flour milled from a different version of wheat than conventional whole wheat flour. Typical whole wheat flour is milled from hard red wheat, while the Hard White Whole Wheat Flour is milled from hard white wheat. The hard white wheat gives a lighter color and flavor than hard red wheat. Unbleached White Flour has had the bran and germ stripped away, so it is not whole grain. That is the main difference- one is whole wheat and one is not. Both have about the same amount of protein, but a whole wheat flour will produce a denser, more flavorful baked good. Hope that helps clear things up.
      Reply
  4. neve
    is ther red wheat gluten free?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      No, all of our wheat contains gluten.
      Reply
      1. Vicki
        Oh, nooo... I was so hoping the red wheat was OK. I LOVE the Kashi sweet potato cereal, and I get to eat so little anymore.

        However, if white wheat is genetically modified and red wheat isn't - perhaps I'll be OK as I have an intolerance to wheat, not just gluten. My problems stem more from the pesticides and chemicals. So organic red wheat might be OK?
        *sigh* Guess I'll find out - I'm eating some of the cereal straight out of the box, lol!
        Thanks for your help!
        Reply
  5. David LaPierre
    If you were going to put wheat up for long term storage, what would you use, hard red winter, or hard white spring? Thank you, and Merry Christmas!!
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      David,

      Merry Christmas to you too! It really depends on your flavor preference, as both will store well and produce high quality flour if milled. Hard white wheat tends to have a slightly sweeter flavor and may be preferable if you find conventional whole wheat to have a bitter flavor. The main thing to watch for if you'll be milling the wheat into flour for baking is to be sure to pick a hard wheat and not a soft wheat. Soft wheat will have a lower gluten content and will not work as well for a yeast-risen bread. Hope this helps!
      Reply
  6. Nadine Anderton
    Nadine Anderton
    It sounds from your description of hard white wheat that it is GMO. Is that true?
    Reply
    1. Kolkrabe
      Most, if not all, of the vegetable we farm can be considered GMO. How do you think these things were created in the first place? They started out with the wild plant that was discovered, and have been altered over time for our uses. Tomatoes. Potatoes. Onions. You name it, it was derived from a different type of that species of plant, if not a single wild version altogether. Technically, it is a GMO. However!!! It is NOT a GMO like what we are worried about today. There is not a single GMO wheat on the market, although one was recently discovered to have been planted by Monsanto without consent to have even created it. It under investigation and is hopefully nothing to worry about. :)
      Reply
  7. Whitney
    Isn't their a difference between GMO and hybridization?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Yes, there is a big difference between a GMO item and a hybridized item. Hybridization is done through plant breeding, just like those little charts from science class. Two plants that display a desired gene are bred for that gene, the plants that don't display the gene are discarded and the plants that do display the gene are bred again until all plants display the gene. Genetically modifying an ingredient means to actually get into the dna and fiddle with its genetic makeup.
      Reply
  8. Peter Clark
    I bought your hard white wheat 4 pack off amazon thinking I was buying red winter and I am planning to use for wheat grass juice. Will there be any problem using the hard white for wheat grass, will it produce a different tasting product?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      I would think it would work the same as the hard red wheat. It may have a slightly sweeter flavor.
      Reply
  9. Odell
    This might be off topic, but why would you guys recommend consumers using Canola oil for a test loaf? Canola oil does not occur in nature and is actually a genetic manipulation of rapeseed oil. Also 90% of canola seeds grown are of the Monsanto Round Up ready variety.
    Reply
    1. alexandra astrup
      Your question about Canola oil is not off topic as I was thinking the same question as well and would like an answer to it too! Unfortunately I feel the oils today have been adulterated and wonder which oils are best.
      Reply
  10. Charles
    Can the wheat berries be planted?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      You could conceivably sprout and plant them, but we can't guarantee that they will grow.
      Reply
  11. mark
    I know rye & spelt flour has low gluten and high soluble fiber. How about hard red wheat ? is it also has low gluten and high soluble fiber ? is it healthy than spelt/rye ?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Mark,

      Hard Red Wheat is not low gluten, though it does contain a healthy amount of soluble fiber. I could not say if it is healthier than rye or spelt, but if you are looking for a low gluten option, spelt and rye are good choices.
      Reply
  12. mark
    Thanks Cassidy,

    which is winner/healthier between whole grain spelt flour and dark rye flour ?

    which has high soluble, lowest gluten ?

    I know rye has high zinc which is good.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Mark,

      I can't tell you which is the winner, since I don't know what the criteria is for the "best" option. Spelt Flour has a protein count of 14-18%, Rye has a protein count around 10%. If you are looking for the least protein, Rye is the best choice for you.
      Reply
  13. mark
    Thanks Cassidy, I guess least protein means low gluten as gluten is the protein found in wheat species(spelt/dark rye) ?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Yes, less protein means less gluten.
      Reply
  14. mark
    Can you help me out on choosing healthy baking flours(low gluten and high soluble fiber) between these:

    1) Light spelt flour(some % of bran, germ removed) - protein level is same as whole grain but doesn't seems to be any soluble fiber
    2) Light rye flour(some % of bran, germ removed) - protein level is same as whole grain but doesn't seems to be any soluble fiber
    3) Whole wheat pastry flour(bran, germ included) - there is no soluble fiber in wheat so this doesn't as well ?

    Isn't it whole wheat pastry flour is healthy because healthiest part of any wheat family is germ and out of three above only whole wheat pastry flour has this included ?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Of these three, I would say the whole wheat pastry flour is the best choice because it contains all of the health-giving nutrients in a whole grain. I'm just not sure what your trying to find. From this, I'd really say regular whole grain spelt flour is probably your best bet.
      Reply
  15. karen
    I recently purchased a 25lb bag of the hard white wheat. Milled it and found that it felt like corn meal. Tried again on the finest grind level and still feels very much different than that of the hard winter wheat when I mill it. Is this typical? Also my bread was not at all successful it completely tore apart at the sides. My red wheat bread does not do this. Do I need to be doing something different? I use a 20 + yr old bosch universal mixer for making my bread. Thanks
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Hi Karen,

      It sounds like your mill isn't grinding it as fine as it needs to. As far as the bread, perhaps you should try adding some vital wheat gluten? That would help with the loaf staying together. Please give us a call at 800-349-2173 to speak with one of our baking experts.
      Reply
  16. Marie
    I've been learning about sourdough starters. Which wheat would produce a better starter. I've been told that rye is best but I hate the flavor
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Unbleached white flour actually makes the best sourdough starter, according to our in house chef. If you want a whole grain starter, use half whole wheat and half white flour for optimal results.
      Reply
  17. Marie
    Which whole wheat red or white?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Either would work well, as long as it's a hard wheat- so our regular whole wheat flour or our hard white whole wheat flour.
      Reply
  18. Lillian
    Is the hard red to our tolerated better by those who are gluten intolerant?
    Reply
  19. Lillian
    Is the hard red to our tolerated better by those who have gluten allergies?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      I would not recommend either for people with gluten allergies. They should not consume any kind of wheat, rye or barley.
      Reply
  20. Jennifer
    Is there a nutritional difference between hard white wheat and hard red wheat? It seems like hard white wheat might be less nutritious.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      There is no significant difference between hard red and hard white wheat- they are slightly different in color and flavor, but the nutritional profile is nearly identical. The major differences happen between hard and soft wheat. Soft wheat has a lower protein content.
      Reply
  21. Vic
    Hi, may I ask if I want to grow Wheat grass, is there any different between these TWO kinds of wheat seeds?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      There might be minor nutritional differences, but they should be nearly identical.
      Reply
  22. Cc
    I read somewhere that to make an all-purpose flour similar to any typical flour you can buy at the grocery store, you should grind and mix 50% hard wheat and 50% soft wheat. Is this an accurate way to make an all-purpose to use in any recipe that calls for it?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      CC,

      Yes, this is exactly how all purpose flour is made. It's a combination of hard wheat and soft wheat, however it also has the bran and germ removed. What you'd be making when you mill these at home is more like an all purpose whole wheat flour. It will still work great in most recipes, but your baked goods will be more dense than if you use white flour. They'll also be healthier and have a richer flavor, though, so it's kind of a trade-off.
      Reply
  23. larry syverson
    You showed a basic bread recipe above that you use in a bread machine. Do you have one for someone that doesn't use a bread machine. My bread typically turns out more like a door stop than a loaf of bread. The best I can guess is my flour to water ratio is out of whack. i.e. too much flour. Any help would be appreciated.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Larry,

      Try one of these, they're amazing loaves of bread that should get you headed in the right direction:
      http://minimalistbaker.com/the-easiest-whole-grain-seeded-bread/
      http://spicedblog.com/multi-grain-sandwich-bread.html
      Reply
  24. Patti O"Dea
    Are winter wheatberries the same as hard wheatberries
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Patti,

      The terms "winter" and "hard" refer to different things. Most of what you will find on the market are going to be hard berries. If you're just cooking the berries to put in, say, a salad, hard or soft won't matter. If you're milling them into flour, hard will have a higher protein, while soft will have a lower protein. The term "winter" simply refers to the season in which the wheat was harvested and will not affect your recipe one way or another.
      Reply
  25. Autumn
    Is hard red spring wheat low in gluten like spelt and rye?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      No, not at all. Hard Red Wheat has a high gluten content.
      Reply
  26. Sats
    Hi,
    So for baking muffins,cakes,cookies could I use a combination of whole wheat and white wheat flour? What would you recommend so that I can get the health benefits of whole wheat flour?
    Thanks
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      We usually recommend a ratio of 1/2 and 1/2 of each flour for a good texture. Sometimes you can get away with all whole wheat, depending on the type of cookie. For instance, I have had a lot of success using 100% whole wheat pastry flour for chocolate chip cookies, but I wouldn't recommend it for sugar cookies.
      Reply
  27. Joe
    Hi,
    Does this hard red wheat contain gliadin? I have found that I can eat gluten but can not stand the gliadin that's in the new wheat - although, from what I understand that is a dwarf wheat.
    Gliadin is a new protein that came with this new wheat and ever since it's been hidden in the food chain it's been wreaking havoc with people's health. The author of Wheat Belly has called it the Perfect Chronic Poison.
    So, I'm trying to find a wheat that doesn't have it. I really don't know what exactly you mean by a Hard Red Wheat so that's I ask. I've heard of soft red and hard winter but I can't recall a hard red that I remember as I was growing up.
    Thanks.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Joe,

      I would not recommend eating our red wheat if you are concerned about this.
      Reply
    2. Jayma
      Joe, you'd probably want an "ancient" wheat, like Rarro, Einkorn, Freekeh... they are the original forms of wheat that do contain gluten, but lower levels and contain a different type of gluten than the "new" form. I am gluten intolerant but haven't been brave enough to try these, however this is information I've read. Try looking up ancient wheat.
      Reply
  28. Carol
    I won't be doing any baking. I got the soft white wheat berries.
    I'll be cooking it on the stove. I alternate grains with my meals,
    a couple days of brown rice, a couple days of quinoa, a couple
    days of barley, etc., and now I have wheatberries. This goes with
    beans and vegetables. So are soft white wheatberries good for
    cooking with a meal like those other grains ?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Absolutely! They're delicious as a grain in meals. They'll take a little longer to cook, but wheat berries are a wonderful ingredient for cooking.
      Reply
  29. Terry Hall
    I have just recently discovered your artisan bread flour and I have to say I love it! I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of wheat, and whether it's winter or spring wheat. Any other info you can give me On the flour will be greatly appreciated as my friends and family are always asking about the types of flour and their properties in my baked goods.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Our bread flour is made from hard red wheat and has a protein count between 12.5% and 15%. I hope this helps.
      Reply
  30. Anita
    I am new to milling my own flour. I love baking pies, muffins, and cookies. I also, want to make bread for my little ones to each peanut butter and jelly.
    What berries do I buy?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Either of these types of wheat would be fantastic for baking. If you're baking bread, you want to be sure to mill a high-protein hard wheat- that can be hard red or hard white. To make pastries, you'll benefit from choosing a soft wheat- soft white wheat is most common, as it has a lower protein content.
      Reply
  31. Terry Armstrong
    We Mill our own organic hard R/W winter wheat. We recently bought organic hard spring wheat from a local farmer. Found that extra gluten is needed to use it in the same recipe that I use with the hard winter wheat. Which brings me to my question. Bob's Red Mill produces a product called 100% whole grain Ivory wheat. This product bills itself as a bread flour, pancake flour, cookie flour, etcetera. If ivory wheat organic flour is a good pastry flour how does it have enough gluten to make the kind of bread hard red winter wheat does?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Terry,

      Our Ivory Wheat Flour has a high protein content, it makes a great cookie and pancake, but they will be the same texture as those made with standard whole wheat flour. They'll have a lighter flavor and color, but if you want a light and fluffy pancake, your best bet would really be to use pastry flour. It is really best for bread baking.
      Reply
  32. Dan
    Curious if there is a big difference between the organic and non organic wheat berries? I know a lot of time the only difference is a farm paying for certification even if it's the same process. Any insight on this? Do the non organic use pesticides?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      The organic wheat berries would be grown in accordance with the National Organic Program, while conventional berries would use standard farming practices. It is safe to assume that they would use pesticides on conventionally grown wheat.
      Reply
  33. JoAnn
    Will I be able to make a loaf of no-knead bread with self milled hard white wheat berries? What differences will I see between a loaf made with self milled or store bought bread flour?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Yes, that would work just fine. I'm not totally sure what difference you will see, as I have not had much experience with milling my own flour.
      Reply
  34. Glenn Powers
    Wondering which to grind to mimic "00" flour for pizza. My mill cangrind very fine to get the 00 quality, but which berry or blend of berries would I grind for.protein and gluten?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      You would need to ask the maker of your grinder since they all work differently, we wouldn't be able to answer this accurately.
      Reply
  35. Susa
    I want to make manna bread, can you tell me what wheat is better to sprout, the red or the white
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      This is hard to answer without seeing the recipe. We would suggest you call our customer service department and speak to our recipe specialist. The number is 503-654-3215.
      Reply
  36. Catherine Clarke
    Catherine Clarke
    After reading your recipe for white whole wheat bread - MACHINE!? Really? Some of us still do it the old fashioned way.
    Reply
  37. Ellen
    Which flour do you recommend for making fresh pasta? Other than durum wheat semolina?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      You will want something with a similar protein content in it so our All Purpose Flour would work as well, but the final product may be a bit different.
      Reply
  38. aldrin
    thank you for the info that you have published in your article and keep up the good work.
    Reply
  39. thomas
    i've been learning these facts and i got so many important facts that will be very useful to me and thank you for the article. keep up the good work.
    Reply
  40. jane
    thank you for the review and keep up the good work. but there's a question for you. Isn’t their a difference between GMO and hybridization? please give me some facts about that if possible. thank you.
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Jane, that's a great question. Hybridization is selective breeding where farmers cross pollinate two different, but related plants. GMO is when scientist genetically modify a plant in a lab by crossing breeds of plants that aren't necessarily related. We hope that helps!
      Reply
  41. Har Gro
    Hi,
    We are producing seitan for our local charity organization programs in Toronto. The issue we are facing that we are using bleached all purpose flour to get the gluten, it results in being rather chewy and also does not absorb any marination, can you suggest which flour we should be using to get good soft quality gluten and also has absorbing qualities.

    Thanks.
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Har Gro. We suggest you contact our recipe specialist at 1-800-349-2173 for recipe details. She will be able to help you with specifics.
      Reply
  42. Emi
    Do you have shelled wheat (aka hulled wheat) to something that can be substituted for it? thanks
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Emi, you can find our hulled wheat here: Bob's Red Mill Wheat Berries
      Reply
  43. Pam Loher
    Does red hard wheat flour contain any red dye especially red dye number three
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Pam, no it does not. Red refers to the varietal of wheat, there is no red dye.
      Reply
  44. John Holeman
    I have been looking for your White Whole Wheat both in stores and on your online store, but can't find it. Are you still carrying it? Is it seasonal? Will it be back?
    Reply
  45. Karla
    Are your organic whole wheat four GMO?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Karla - Yes, every item we carry is non-GMO.
      Reply
  46. Susan Lee Vick
    Could you share this recipe in a traditional bowl/oven vs. bread machine form? Thanks!
    Reply
  47. Helen Caraveo
    I bought some hard red wheat in Montana. It has been stored in a large plastic container. When I went to get some to grind, I noticed a pale yellow dust or flour like substance in the wheat kernels ... No bugs ... is this normal? Should I wash the grain before grinding? the substance is equal to the area the grain takes up.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Helen - We would recommend contacting the supplier about that.
      Reply
  48. Mich
    I purchased hard red wheat flour by mistake, thought it was regular bread flour. Decided to use it to make bread as I didn't want to have to go back to store, unfortunately the bread turned out too dense and dry for our liking. Can I use either regular bread or AP flour with the hard wheat to create a bread lighter in both texture & taste?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Mich, our recipe specialist can help with this. You can reach her at custo[email protected] She can give you detailed help based on the ingredients you wish to use in the recipe.
      Reply
  49. Alex
    Most bakers, even at home, weight their ingredients. That would be nice to have it in the recipe. Here, I wonder how many grams if flour I need. Flour can be more or less compacted. Thanks
    Reply
  50. Richard Terpilowski
    Richard Terpilowski
    Tried Hard Red know Trying Hard White, 320ml room temp water, 100 grams sourdough starter, 7g salt, first attempt with this grain, milled it medium using no oil at the moment, completely different taste may have adjust hydration; P.S milling my own flour hobby created by first Covid Lockdown.
    Reply

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