Italian flours (as of 2020) are graded by an Italian law passed in 2001. Presidential decree # 187, 9 February 2001. “La legge italiana stabilisce chiaramente le caratteristiche e le eventuali denominazioni con il Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica n.187 del 9 febbraio 2001” DECRETO DEL PRESIDENTE DELLA REPUBBLICA 9 febbraio 2001, n.187. This law replaced the previous law governing flour from 1967, (law 4.7. 1967. n. 580), modified in 1972.
The grading is based on measuring the ash content of the flour (just as it is for French flours and German flours.)
- 1 Grano duro flours
- 2 Grano tenero flours
- 3 Farina Integrale
- 4 Farina Manitoba
- 5 Other Italian flours
- 6 Substitutes
- 7 Flour regulation in Italy
- 8 Articles 1 and 2
- 9 History Notes
- 10 Related entries
Grano duro flours
Flours from hard wheat are termed “semola” or “grano duro” (meaning “hard grain”).
Grano duro flours are slightly yellowish and have a more granular texture. They are used for pasta, and in the south of Italy, for some types of bread. They are often also called “semolato di grano duro” or “sfarinato di grano duro.”
|Flour product name||Humidity||Ash||Ash||Protein|
|Semola integrale di grano duro||14.5%||1.4%||1.8%||11.5%|
|Farina di grano duro||14.5%||1.36%||1.7%||11.5%|
Table source: Presidential decree # 187, 9 February 2001.
Grano tenero flours
Flours made from soft wheat are labelled “grano tenero” meaning “tender grain”.
Grano tenero flours are white, more powdery flours used in bread and in pastries.
In Italy, as in much of Europe, soft wheat is the norm.
Soft wheat Italian flours are classed by “type number” (type is “tipo” in Italian).
Table of soft wheat Italian flour by tipo
This table (based on the most recent laws governing flour, passed in 2001) shows respectively humidity, maximum percentage of ash, maximum percentage of cellulose, and minimum percent of dry gluten, and compares the flour types with flours from USA, Germany and France.
The lower the number, the softer, fine and purer the flour. The higher the number, the coarser and more “whole grain” it is. (To get completely whole grain, you go with ” integrale” at the end of the tipo chart.)
|Flour product name||Humidity||Ash||Ash||Protein||Flour product name||Flour product name||Flour product name|
|Soft wheat flour tipo 00||14.5%||–||0.55%||9%||pastry flour||405||45|
|Soft wheat flour tipo 0||14.5%||–||0.65%||11%||all-purpose flour||550||55|
|Soft wheat flour tipo 1||14.5%||–||0.8%||12%||high gluten flour||812||80|
|Soft wheat flour tipo 2||14.5%||–||0.95%||12%||first clear flour||1050||110|
|Soft wheat whole grain||14.5%||1.3%||1.7%||12%||white whole wheat||1600||150|
Table source: Presidential decree # 187, 9 February 2001.
These Italian flours are also called “dopio zero”, meaning “double zero.”
They are the softest, finest, Italian flours; they are very finely ground like a fine powder and are very white. They have the most refinement done to them and the least fibre remaining.
The “grano tenero” flours in category 00 are more in the range of “cake flour” in terms of protein content. They will not create much gluten.
The protein will range around 9% for the pure soft wheat flours.
Tipo 00 blends
Every mill in Italy makes several different kinds of type 00, as flour in this category can be as just soft wheat, or blended with some hard wheat (see “Farina Manitoba” below.)
The protein may range up to 11 % for the ones with some hard wheat flour blended in, but not much higher. Consequently, at bakeries these flours are often blended with stronger yet flours for bread making.
If you are using a tipo 00 flour for pasta, you want to make sure that the one you are using has some hard wheat blended in.
This category of flours is more in the range of a strong all-purpose or lower protein bread (strong) flour. They are a bit less refined than type 00, use about 70% of the grain, and are consequently a bit darker.
These flours are a bit darker and coarser than Type 0.
These flours are a bit darker and coarser than Type 1.
This is the darkest and coarsest Italian soft wheat flour. It uses the whole grain.
This comes as both a 0 and 00 flour. Made from the Manitoba variety of hard wheat, as grown in Canada and the States, it has a high protein content.
Essentially a strong, highly-refined white bread flour, it is mostly used as a flour to strengthen other flours, often being mixed in right at the mills.
Such strengthened flours are sold as special strength flours — the flours may be marked as being for “pane, pizza, dolce” (bread, pizza, baked sweet goods.) At other times, the presence of Farina Manitoba may be indicated by a W on the package (the W is a value used on “Chopin Alveograph” graphs in Europe that measure the quality of gluten in a flour.)
The name “Manitoba” is applied to it by Italians only. People in the Canadian province of Manitoba would have no idea what they meant — nor is it made only from wheat grown in Manitoba.
Other Italian flours
Note you can also buy specialty flours, such as “farina speciale per pizza, dolci e pasta.”
In North America, for tipo 0 flour for bread or pizza, use all-purpose.
In North America, for flour strengthened with Manitoba flour (when the recipe calls for flour with a W in the name), in the States, use bread-flour if you have it, or all-purpose. In Canada, the all-purpose there is stronger than American all-purpose, so just all-purpose will do.
In North America, for soft flour, use regular flour, or cake flour.
For grano duro flour substitutes, try bread flour if making pizza dough, semolina flour if making pasta, durum flour if making noodles.
More elaborate substitution
If you are making bread: in North America, some suggest 3 parts all-purpose flour to 1 part cake flour; in the UK, 3 parts of bread flour to 1 part plain flour. Bread (strong) flour on its own is probably pretty much too strong for almost any Italian recipe. The absolute highest protein content you’d probably want in a flour for Italian bread would be 12 to 12.5%, tops.
Flour regulation in Italy
Flour regulation in Italy is (as of 2020) governed by the Italian presidential decree of 2001.
Articles 1 and 2
Article 1 covers grano tenero (soft wheat) flour; article 2 covers grano duro (hard wheat) flour. Both articles are summarized in the tables presented above in the respective sections.
Following are the other articles.
Article 3, Miscellaneous
- Cereal flours other than wheat, if mixed with wheat flour in any proportion, must be offered for sale with the clear indication of the name of the cereal from which the flour mixed with that of wheat comes.
Article 4, Prohibitions
- The addition of organic and inorganic substances of any kind is prohibited, as well as any treatment of flour with physical or chemical agents, without prejudice to the competent provisions of the Ministry of Health, issued in accordance with the law of April 30, 1962, n. 283.
- It is forbidden to sell, hold to sell, as well as to use for bread-making, pasta-making or other food uses, flours having characteristics different from those established by this regulation.
- It is also forbidden to sell, to keep to sell, as well as to use for bread-making, pasta-making or other food uses, flours which are in any case altered, adulterated, sophisticated or invaded by animal or vegetable parasites.
Article 5, Packaging
- The flours must be offered for sale in prepackaged packaging closed at the origin.
- The provisions relating to the delivery of flours or semolina in bulk in tank wagons and their storage and conservation to users, provided for by the decree of the Minister for Agriculture and Forests dated 1 April 1968, published in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic n. 103 of 22 April 1968, as supplemented by the decree of the same Minister dated 17 February 1972, published in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic no. 125 of 15 May 1972.
Notes to art. 5: – The decree of the Minister for Agriculture and Forests, 1 April 1968, states: “Provisions for the delivery of flours or semolina in bulk in tank wagons and their storage and conservation among users.” – The decree of the Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, 17 February 1972, states: “Integration of the ministerial decree of 1 April 1968, containing provisions for the delivery of flours or semolina in bulk in tank wagons and their storage and conservation at users”.
Italian wheat traditionally produced soft (or “weak”) flours. To compensate for this, a stiff starter called a “biga” was used that would reinforce the bread dough. Now that strong North American flours are being used and blended in, the starter, which is still called a “biga”, has evolved to be weaker so as not to combine with the stronger flours and make the bread dough too stiff.
|↑1||Presidential decree # 187, 9 February 2001. “La legge italiana stabilisce chiaramente le caratteristiche e le eventuali denominazioni con il Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica n.187 del 9 febbraio 2001” DECRETO DEL PRESIDENTE DELLA REPUBBLICA 9 febbraio 2001, n.187. This law replaced the previous law governing flour from 1967, (law 4.7. 1967. n. 580), modified in 1972.|