Graham crackers are a beloved childhood snack that have been around for nearly two centuries. They’re a staple ingredient in many recipes, from s’mores to pie crusts.
But have you ever wondered what exactly goes into making these crunchy treats? Specifically, do graham crackers have flour in them? The answer may surprise you.
In this article, we’ll explore the ingredients that make up graham crackers, including the type of flour used, and whether or not they’re gluten-free.
Whether you’re a fan of traditional graham crackers or looking for a gluten-free alternative, read on to learn more about this classic snack.
Do Graham Crackers Have Flour In Them?
Yes, graham crackers do have flour in them. In fact, the main ingredient in graham crackers is graham flour, which is a type of whole wheat flour. Graham flour is made by grinding all three parts of the wheat berry: the germ, the endosperm, and the bran. The germ and bran are not ground as finely as the endosperm, which gives graham flour its distinctive texture and nutty flavor.
While graham flour is the traditional flour used in making graham crackers, most commercially available graham crackers today are made with refined wheat flour. This means that they are not suitable for those who follow a gluten-free diet.
However, if you are gluten-free or simply prefer to make your own graham crackers from scratch, it’s easy to do so using gluten-free flours such as brown rice flour or a gluten-free flour blend. You can also use whole wheat flour as a substitute for graham flour if you can’t find it in your local store.
The History Of Graham Crackers
The history of graham crackers dates back to the early 1800s, when a Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham invented them as part of his Graham Diet. Graham was a proponent of vegetarianism and believed that a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, limited dairy, and bland starches would help people abstain from sexual activity, particularly self-love, which he believed led to insanity and blindness.
Graham invented the graham cracker as a health food specific to his diet, originally marketed as “Dr. Graham’s Honey Biskets.” The original recipe used a combination of white flour, coarse-ground wheat flour, bran, and germ. These crackers were mild and unsweetened, quite different from the sweetened graham crackers we know today.
The graham cracker gained popularity among Graham’s followers, known as Grahamites. However, after Graham’s death in 1851, the popularity of the Graham Diet waned. One man who stayed true to the bland food edict was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. Kellogg insisted that patients at the sanitarium follow a similar diet.
One day, Kellogg’s brother Will accidentally left cooked wheat out, letting it go stale. The Kelloggs decided to try and force it through the rollers anyway. Instead of softening, the wheat came out hard and in flake form. Dr. Kellogg served the flakes to patients at the sanitarium and they were well-received. Will saw a mass-market opportunity by adding a touch of sugar to the corn flakes, causing a rift between himself and his brother.
Today, most commercially available graham crackers are made with refined wheat flour and sweetened with sugar, honey, and/or cinnamon. However, the original graham cracker made with whole wheat flour can still be found in some specialty stores or made at home using graham flour or whole wheat flour as a substitute. Despite its over-processed icon status today, the push for organic products and increasing whole grains in our diets may lead to another food revolution inspired by Sylvester Graham’s original vision.
What Are Graham Crackers Made Of?
As mentioned earlier, graham crackers are primarily made of graham flour, a type of whole wheat flour that contains all three parts of the wheat berry. In addition to graham flour, graham crackers also contain sweeteners such as honey and granulated sugar, as well as milk, butter, baking powder and soda, vanilla, and salt.
The combination of honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract is what gives graham crackers their signature flavor. The crackers are typically rolled out thinly to achieve a crisp texture and can be enjoyed as a snack or used in various recipes such as S’mores or crumb crusts.
While most commercially available graham crackers are made with refined wheat flour, making homemade graham crackers with whole wheat or gluten-free flours is a fun and tasty way to enjoy this classic childhood snack. By using alternative flours and sweeteners, you can customize the flavor and texture of your homemade graham crackers to suit your taste preferences.
The Type Of Flour Used In Graham Crackers
Graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour that is commonly used in making graham crackers. It is named after Sylvester Graham, a forerunner of the American health food movement, who believed that whole wheat flour was healthier than refined flour. Graham flour is made by grinding all three parts of the wheat berry, which includes the germ, endosperm, and bran. The germ and bran are not ground as finely as the endosperm, which gives graham flour its distinctive texture and nutty flavor.
Unlike refined wheat flour, which is commonly used in commercially available graham crackers, graham flour is a whole grain flour that retains more of the nutrients found in the wheat berry. It is also a good source of fiber and protein, making it a healthier option for those who want to enjoy graham crackers as part of their diet.
If you prefer to make your own graham crackers at home, graham flour can be found in most grocery stores or online. However, if you cannot find graham flour, whole wheat flour can be used as a substitute. It is important to note that using whole wheat flour will result in a slightly different texture and flavor compared to using graham flour.
Are Graham Crackers Gluten-Free?
No, most traditional graham crackers are not gluten-free because they are made with graham flour or wheat flour, both of which contain gluten. However, there are now many gluten-free graham crackers available on the market that are made with a gluten-free flour blend. It’s important to note that not all gluten-free grahams are created equal, so it’s important to do your research and find the best ones for your taste preferences.
If you prefer to make your own gluten-free graham crackers at home, it’s easy to do so using brown rice flour or a gluten-free flour blend. You can also use alternative sweeteners like honey or golden syrup if you have a dairy allergy or follow a vegan diet.
Health Benefits And Risks Of Eating Graham Crackers
Graham crackers have some health benefits, but also come with some risks. On the positive side, they are relatively low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. They also contain some essential nutrients such as magnesium and selenium, which are important for maintaining good health.
Graham crackers can also be a good option for those with a sweet tooth who are looking for a healthier alternative to candy or cookies. They come in a variety of flavors and can provide some whole grains and a small amount of fiber.
However, it’s important to note that graham crackers are mainly carbohydrates and sugar, with very little protein or fiber. This means that they may not keep you feeling full for very long and can cause blood sugar spikes if consumed in large quantities.
Additionally, many commercially available graham crackers contain added sugars and artificial flavors and additives, which can have negative effects on your health if consumed regularly. Some brands also use hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fats that can increase cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease.
If you want to enjoy graham crackers as a snack, it’s best to choose plain varieties or organic brands that avoid artificial ingredients. It’s also important to consume them in moderation and pair them with other healthy foods rich in protein and fiber for balance. As always, consult with your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet.
Alternative Uses For Graham Crackers In Recipes
Graham crackers are not just for snacking on their own or using as a base for s’mores. They can also be used in a variety of recipes to add a crunchy, sweet element.
One popular use for graham crackers is to crush them up and use them as a crust for pies and cheesecakes. Simply mix crushed graham crackers with melted butter and press into the bottom of a baking dish. Bake until golden brown and let cool before adding your filling.
Another delicious way to use graham crackers is to make a no-bake dessert such as a refrigerator cake or icebox cake. Layer graham crackers with whipped cream, pudding, or fruit for a quick and easy dessert that requires no baking.
Graham crackers can also be used in cookie recipes, adding a unique texture and flavor to traditional cookie recipes. Try adding crushed graham crackers to chocolate chip cookie dough or using them as a base for thumbprint cookies.
Finally, graham crackers can be used in savory recipes as well. Crushed graham crackers can be used as a coating for chicken or fish, adding a sweet and crunchy element to savory dishes.