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“RP-HPLC” Says a Mouthful About Flour Quality

By Ben Hardin
March 5, 1997

Cooks everywhere know it’s true: For the best baked goods, you have to start with the best ingredients.

Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service say a laboratory test with a tongue-tangling name could make it easier someday for flour milling companies to pinpoint the wheats that make the best flour.

The test--called reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC)--shows that hard red winter wheats rich in gamma gliadin proteins are the ones with the desired qualities.

Using RP-HPLC, the ARS scientists also found a close link between hard red winter wheat’s gamma gliadin content and loaf yield--the amount of bread that can be made from a pound of flour. A weaker connection was seen in hard red spring wheats.

The scientists studied 12 hard red winter wheat breeding lines grown at six Midwestern locations. For each dozen 60-milligram flour samples, the researchers needed only 8 hours to extract and separate proteins and run them through RP-HPLC.

The scientists foresee the test being run on thousands of wheat samples each year before breeders grow enough seeds of experimental wheat varieties to begin milling and baking tests.

Scientific contact: Floyd R. Huebner, USDA-ARS, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, Ill., phone (309) 681-6357, e-mail