The Fresh Loaf

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First Street Flours from Smart and Final Stores - Protein (Gluten) Levels

troglodyte's picture
troglodyte

First Street Flours from Smart and Final Stores - Protein (Gluten) Levels

Smart and Final is a chain of grocery stores in Western states, mostly in California. They tend to sell more bulk items than typical grocery stores. I assume that the larger quantities are targeted at small "mom and pop" businesses and restaurants as well as ordinary consumers. Their house brand is "First Street". First Street unbleached white flours are a good value for me. I buy either the bread flour or the high gluten flour in 25 pound bags for the best value. Lately I have been buying the high gluten flour. I have not decided which of the two flours would be better to keep on hand for general bread making. (Sorry, but King Arthur flours are a luxury.)

I wrote to Smart and Final the other day, and learned the protein (gluten) levels of their flours. The protein levels are a direct quote from Smart and Final Customer Relations, in an email dated 30 June 2022:

First Street Flour Protein (Gluten) Percentages - Response from Smart and Final Stores:

High Gluten -
Protein 12.8% - 13.2%, target is 13%

Bread Flour - 
Protein* 12.0% +/- 0.2%
(May vary depending on crop for current year)

All Purpose - 
Protein* 11.3% +/- 0.3%
(May vary depending on crop for current year)

I also asked for the name of the mill that grinds their flour. Smart and Final did not include it in their response.

In case anyone cares, I divide the 25 pound bags of flour into four pound quantities, stored in one gallon zipper bags, which I save and reuse. Each four pound bag of flour fits our kitchen canister perfectly. We store the remaining bags of flour in the refrigerator or freezer, wherever there is space. 

troglodyte's picture
troglodyte

I started this thread to share the information I had gathered about Smart & Final's First Street brand flour, some of which is not available anywhere else on the internet. I am back solely to maintain this thread, because I believe that non-members may be finding and relying on it through ordinary web searches. 

Update: September/October 2022

Smart & Final has cleared out their inventory of First Street Bread Flour and First Street High Gluten Flour, which was sold in 25 pound bags. It was the best source for low cost bread flour that I found. The First Street All Purpose Flour is still on the shelves in the 25 pound bags, but I do not buy that. 

In an email response to my customer query, Smart & Final said, "Our Private Label Team has informed us that we’re in a middle of a vendor transition. We’ll have a temporary brand called Supreme that’ll be in the stores by end of next week.. " There was no other helpful information in Smart & Final's reply. 

Smart & Final ignored my other question twice. In both previous customer queries I asked for the name of the flour mill company that provides First Street brand flour. I wanted to see the spec details about their flour from the source mill company website. I'll try again after the flour situation is settled at Smart & Final with their new supplier.

In case anyone cares, "the end of next week" will be this Friday (7 October 2022). I called six different local Smart & Final stores the last two days. They have no bread flour and high gluten flour. The shelves are bare. We'll see if "Supreme" brand shows up by Friday. 

I looked at alternative sources for inexpensive bread flour, including Costco:

The "business" Costco near us sells flour from Ardent Mills in 50 pound bags. They have "baker's flour" from Ardent Mills. The Costco tag on the shelf labels it "bread flour." It is a 50 pound bag of Ardent Mills "Minnesota Girl" flour for $21.99. The first ingredient is "bleached wheat flour" (!!) and has a protein level of 11.5-12.1%. They also have high gluten flour, a 50 pound bag Ardent Mills "Kyrol" flour for $21.49. The protein is listed at 13.7-14.3%. The first ingredient is "wheat flour", not "bleached wheat flour". 

Our local Costco flour is sourced from the Ardent Mills flour mill in Colton, California (about 30 miles from here). Apparently Costco stores around the country get their flour from various regional sources. According to others on the internet, Costco flour quality may vary considerably, depending on the regional source of the flour that you buy in your local Costco store. 

(I hope this helps someone. Long time veterans of the site made it plain and clear that sharing my "old school" experience is not wanted here, so I am no longer a member. When I am done with this post, I will log out, delete the website cookies and get out of the way. I will try to keep the Smart & Final flour info in this thread up-to-date, but make no promises.) 

Johnny Yuma's picture
Johnny Yuma

thank you troglodyte.  you saved me a bunch of time.  here's some additional info.  my local SNF say they will get something, not sure what, within the next couple of weeks. (Today is thursday 10/6).  Supreme is General Mills' Gold Medal brand so it should be good.  it is 13.6%.  Calling SNF for an inventory check is hit or miss.  I'm planning to go to the store every day or two in the morning to check stock.  Those fresh bags of flour won't sit long.  It may take a few weeks for things to get back to normal even after they get stock.  remember early covid days!!!!

Johnny Yuma's picture
Johnny Yuma

Oct 16.  My local SNF just got the first shipment just as the store mgr said could happen two days ago when he got the product codes and ordered them.  25lb General Mills Gold Medal Supreme HG.  Two were sitting on shelf.  Now there are none.  I don't believe SNF gets daily "grocery" products deliveries.  So there will probably be a regular empty spot with a product sticker.  So the regular buyers will discover that SNF is carrying them and will be "on the hunt."  I suspect that the shelf will be empty until the pent-up demand has been satisfied.  My guess is that it could be weeks.  So hurry now and get yours while you can. 

troglodyte's picture
troglodyte

@Johnny Yuma - Thank you for your update. 

I called the Smart & Final store on Katella Ave. in Stanton California yesterday morning (18 Oct 2022). They reported four 25 pound bags of the Supreme flour were in stock at $14.99 each. We got to the store an hour later and saw three bags on the shelf. The label said "General Mills", "Gold Medal", "Supreme", and "Bakers High Gluten Enriched Flour Bleached" with a bright red "58355" identifier. I was surprised by "high gluten" and "bleached", and I did not like hearing "$14.99". The old bread flour had been creeping up, last purchased at $11.99 a bag. We could not find a price tag label on the shelf for the Supreme bags. To be honest, I expected unbleached bread flour in roughly the same price range as the old bread flour. 

We stood there in the store, debating whether to try a bag or not. At the end, we did not buy the bag of Supreme. We decided to go back to Costco and try the 50 pound bag of Ardent Mills Kyrol high gluten flour for $21.49 instead. The Kyrol appears to be unbleached, and the price is much better, but a 50 pound bag is more than we like to buy at one time. (I will go out to Costco Business Center later this morning.)

After we got home, I looked online, and General Mills (Gold Medal) Supreme flour has a 13.6% protein level. The bag at Smart & Final looked identical to the one in the photo here:

https://www.generalmillscf.com/products/category/flour/hard-spring-wheat/supreme-bleached-ascorbic-acid-enriched-malted-25lb

Whether the Supreme from Smart & Final or Kyrol from Costco, they are both high gluten flours. My plan would be to mix them with all purpose flour to reduce the gluten to "bread flour" levels. I expect bread flours to be in a range around 11.5 to 12.8 % or so. 

Update (2 hours later):

I went to the Costco Business Center and bought the 50 pound Kyrol high gluten flour for $21.49. I'll divide it into gallon ziploc bags. I put four pounds of flour in each bag, so one bag fits our bread flour canister in the kitchen. 

Costco also had 50 pound bags of Pendleton Four Mills Power High Gluten for $28.99. The "Pendleton" was on the Costco label on the shelf. The printing on the bag said, "Grain Craft", "Power High Gluten Flour", "Unbleached Enriched", "Chattanooga, TN 37408"