Wheat Pigments

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Most wheat varieties have a reddish-brown bran layer that owes its color to various phenolic compounds and to browning enzymes that assemble them into large colored aggregates. Less common are white wheats, whose bran layer is cream-colored due to a much lower content of phenolic compounds and browning enzymes. White wheats have a less astringent taste and discolor less when some of the bran is included in the flour; they’re used to replace ordinary wheats when an especially mild flavor or light color is desired.