Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What's This Wondra?

Are you among the legions who have never heard of Wondra? It's been around since 1963, slightly less than all my life, and I use it all the time. At demonstrations or on TV when I say that I am dredging something in Wondra, I get questions (or in the case of TV, emails) asking what this Wondra is.

Wondra is a granulated flour from General Mills, the folks that bring you Gold Medal flours. General Mills markets it as a "quick mixing" flour for thickening sauces with fewer lumps.

More technically, Wondra is pregelatinized granules made of smaller, low protein wheat and malted barley flour particles. Pregelatinization involves steaming the flour and then drying it, so that it is essentially precooked. Being low in protein and already precooked, Wondra combines in hot or cold sauces more readily and is less prone to forming lumps.

Lump free sauces are all well and good, except that in the restaurant business, we rarely thicken sauces with flour of any kind. But, we do use a lot of Wondra, at least at my restaurant. We use it because those tiny, consistently sized granules create really nice flour crusts on food. And the granules really help in limiting the dust that we get from normal flour, plus they also stick a lot less to our fingers when we are dredging foods.

So there you have it, a product designed for one purpose, but highly useful for a very different purpose. Wondra is available at a supermarket near you.

Still want to know more about pregelatinization of starches? Go dig up a copy of Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, 2nd edition. It makes for some rollicking bedtime reading. ;)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, I bought a box of Wondra the other day and was pleased with the bechamel it produced. Even after reading the ingredients, I was puzzled by exactly what it was. Glad to know it also makes a good flour coating, I'll try that next!