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Is thIs the end of the White Lily Flour as we know it?-NYT

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/din...

They even interviewed Shirley Corriher.

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  1. Have companies learned nothing from the 'new Coke' fiasco? Obviously not, judging fro this statement from The J. M. Smucker Company, which bought white Lily a year ago ...

    "Maribeth Badertscher, a spokeswoman for the company, said the new White Lily was the result of thorough product testing and promised that customers “won’t know the difference.”

    WHY mess with perfection ... oh yeah ... profit. Puts the smuck in Smuckers.

    13 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      "Puts the smuck in Smuckers"

      Bahahahahahaha!!!!!

      1. re: rworange

        One of the points of the new coke fiasco was just this same situation:

        Old Coke was made with cane sugar. When they replaced Old Coke with "coke classic" they converted to HFCS and used the New Coke debacle to cover it up, hoping no one would notice.

        Many many people noticed, but by the time enough realized why it was different, it was too late, and the profits of Coke went up a fraction as they ripped off their customer base for a cheaper poorer product.

        This happens again and again, but it has steamrollered since the 1980s. Weird that I am old enough now to remember when it really was all better than it is today.

        Btw, King Arthur flour and White Lily are *nothing* like one another, I can't believe people in this thread claim they can't tell the difference. King Arthur is great for yeast breads, but if I made biscuits with it, my southern ancestors would come up out of their graves and get me.

        1. re: fussycouple

          I was talking specifically about King Arthur white PASTRY flour, not the all-purpose or the bread flour. No one would ever use pastry flour in a yeast bread, andy more than someone would use bread flour in a biscuit. If you haven't used King Arthur's white pastry flour (9.2% protein, milled from 100% soft southern wheat) in biscuits, you don't really have a point of comparison.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            The point is that White Lily is not a pastry flour, it is an all purpose flour, and functions differently in the things I make than King Arthur. I like King Arthur brand products, but neither their all purpose flour nor their pastry flour (both of which I use at times) is the same as White Lily, and the difference is significant.

            Of course I realize that I'm talking to someone who probably uses yella' corn meal to make the cake that yankees call "cornbread" (smiles).

            1. re: fussycouple

              Dear heart, I'm from Texas. We've been through this on this thread once already.

              Regardless, you are still missing the point. White Lily and King Arthur Pastry Flour are milled from the same type of wheat (soft summer wheat, not hard winter wheat) and have equivalent levels of protein. The only difference is that KA's flour is not chlorinated, and therefore is less blindingly white. That's merely cosmetic. The protein level and the type of wheat are all that matters. That's why I truly believe this ginned-up controversy is more about myth than reality.

              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                "Soft red winter wheat was once grown primarily in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee and, in the days before national food distribution networks, it was the only wheat widely available in the South."

                Also, the chlorination isn't just for the whiteness, it has an effect on the structure, so no, it's not merely cosmetic.

                When I make biscuits from pastry flour, they come out more cakey, which I don't want.

                When I make the same recipe using White Lily they have a better structure. The difference is particularly notable when you use lard instead of unsalted butter. (This is in an oven over 450 degrees).

                I find that in all my recipes from biscuits to pancakes to waffles to popovers to crepes, that little differences have big results, so if I'm overly passionate about While Lily, I beg your indulgence.

                1. re: fussycouple

                  Agree with fussy about the fact that there's more to chlorination than cosmetic. Actually quite a bit more. Shirley Corriher explains it in her book, in the context of cakes. Bottom line--if you want a nice fluffy cake, use bleached flour, not unbleached (and I assume it's true with biscuits as well??). I know from experience that it's true. Many years ago my ex tried repeatedly to make a particular cake recipe from her aunt and it never came out the same. She even stood beside her and learned everything, then went home to do it and just couldn't get the same smooth light crumb--hers was rough, heavy, and crumbly. We finally realized the one thing she was doing differently was using unbleached--switch to bleached and problem gone. Amazing difference.

          2. re: fussycouple

            Luckily I can still get "real coke" , cane sugar and all in my local Kroger. Produced in Mexico and in the ethnic food section. They have a hard time keeping it in stock. Even at over $1.50/ bottle!

            1. re: Candy

              Actually, Kosher Coca Cola is identical to "Old Coke", if you can find it (try Manhattan around Passover). I found it interesting that Old Coke and Mexican Coke don't taste the same, though I will agree that I like both.

              1. re: fussycouple

                I'm not sure if it's the same as "Old Coke" but we don't use HFCS up here in Canada.

                DT

                1. re: Davwud

                  Mexican Coke, Canadian Coke, KOP Coke, they all taste different. Coca Cola uses different formulas for each national market throughout the world, according to (even slightly) differing tastes. They even use different formulas in different regions of the US, as I understand it.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Be that as it may, it has no HFCS in it so I must consider it healthy!!

                    DT

              2. re: Candy

                Careful.... There is some evidence that the Mexican coke might actually contain HFCS. Labels, as it turns out, aren't always truthful or very well checked :-(

                http://healthland.time.com/2010/10/28...

                Best bet, if you like soda, is to stick with smaller independent 100% cane sugar brands.

          3. Sounds like a lot of people more invested in the mythology than the item itself.

            I've used King Arthur's white pastry flour interchangeably with White Lily (both are easily enough procured up here in Boston) for years, and I have never noticed a difference in my biscuits.

            1. I agree that sometimes people are more invested in the product's mythology than the item itself, but I write about food in the South, and I can confirm that every time a local product has sold to an outside company, they have changed it, and nearly always for the worse. And that's for any number of small reasons, but generally speaking, it ceases to be an icon and becomes just one more product line to be optimized. When Pillsbury bought Martha White, they reformulated the all-purpose to be more like Gold Medal, if you can imagine.

              And things could get even worse -- Kraft at Christmastime discontined garlic cheese roll, an iconic product used in one of the most important dishes made for Southern social gatherings: cheese grits. I called the company and they said that sales didn't justify continued production. I reported it on my blog (tupperware avalanche) along with a substitute, and it's the most-hit item on my blog. So there's every danger that White Lily will just be one more "underperforming product line."

              2 Replies
              1. re: fluffernutter

                This is why we need to line up all the MBA's and shoot them when the revolution comes. Yes, even before we shoot all the lawyers.

                1. re: fluffernutter

                  Twenty-nine years living in the South, and I have never heard of this iconic cheese roll. Cheese grits, yes. Garlic cheese roll, no.

                2. I searched all over Manhattan last February to try to find some for exactly the recipe that accompanied the article. Finally found it, and when I read the article this morning I ran right back to the same store to see if I could get lucky. Alas, no. But I still have about a pound and a half left. Good thing, too, because I'd planned to make the biscuits again as the basis for a strawberry shortcake for an upcoming dinner party. I'll savor them even more now.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: JoanN

                    Joan, you can still mail order some of the REAL White Lily. but you have to specify that it come from Knoxville.

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      Mail order from where? from whom? The only place I'm finding it is on the Smucker's Web site.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        Try white lily dot com. you'll find an 800 number that goes to Knoxville.

                    2. re: JoanN

                      I'm on my way back from Amherst, VA and bought 10 lbs of the Knoxville made White Lily Flour, even though I've never made a biscuit. They had lots of it on the shelf. So I guess I now need to learn how to make biscuits, but that's a topic for the Home Cooking board!

                      Not sure if it mentioned this in the article, but the bag says that it's made in Knoxville, and that the company is a subsidiary of a company other than Smuckers.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        A discussion of the NYT and other biscuit recipes using this flour has been split to:

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/531994

                    3. Any venture capitalists out there want to copyrie the phrase "Black Lily", but the building and hire the workers and keep the tradition going?

                      When I go into town tomorrow, I'll check if the 'for sale' signs are up yet.

                      Why in the heck can't they (the ubiquitous they) leave well enough alone?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: shallots

                        I am outraged! I cannot get to my local groceries until Friday and hope among the 3 stores that carry it I can score a few bags of the real thing and vacuum seal it and hoard my treasure until they come to their senses. Hit them in the pocket book is the only way to go on carp like this!

                        Of course there are the no nothings who will buy it. Hopefully the devoted will boycott and it will hurt.

                        1. re: shallots

                          >>Why in the heck can't they (the ubiquitous they) leave well enough alone?

                          Greed.

                        2. <They even interviewed Shirley Corriher.>

                          Huh??? For many years, Shirley Corriher was the face of White Lily Flour. and she is an esteemed food scientist.

                          I haven't tried the "new" White Lily, but if she says there is a difference, I'm sure there is.

                          <Sounds like a lot of people more invested in the mythology than the item itself.

                          I've used King Arthur's white pastry flour interchangeably with White Lily (both are easily enough procured up here in Boston) for years, and I have never noticed a difference in my biscuits.>

                          that's funny. I noticed a difference between them.

                          1. I think this is probably something where those of us who didn't grow up eating White Lily biscuits probably wouldn't get the difference. I'm not from the South (although I did live there for several years), so for me biscuits just don't hold the same mystique. When we had biscuits growing up, they were something my mother whipped up with some Bisquick or they came from Pillsbury. They tasted fine to me, but what did I know? Despite my several years in the South, I'm not sure I would be able to really tell the difference unless someone sat me down and pointed it out to me.

                            I think there are many regional foods that people who were not raised on them will just never understand. I grew up in the Detroit area with access to some of the best Middle Eastern food in the world. When I eat at what passes for a Middle Eastern restaurant in many other places, the effect is usually not the same. While other people (many of whom are otherwise very food knowledgeable) think the lumpy hummus and pita bread that came out of a package is scrumptious, it just doesn't do it for me.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rweater

                              I spent nine years living in Atlanta, and believe me there are brick like biscuits and then there are the fluffy light as a cloud kind. I could not discern the flavor difference, but I can definitely discern the textural difference.

                              Since moving to the north, actually midwest, I look at BBQ, fried chicken, sausage gravy, and biscuits with a whole new mind's eye.

                            2. I may be biased toward Kentucky products, but I've always liked the flours from Weisenberger Mills in Midway, Kentucky better than White Lily.

                              It's come from the same family-owned, water-operated mill since 1865, the quality is beyond consistent - I usually get the unbleached, but the bleached White Lily equivalent is just blindingly white - and the self-rising flour is good too. Very cheap - I ordered from them even during the short few months that White Lily was available in a store near my house. And the grits are awesome too. One of my favorite mail-order sources.

                              www.weisenberger.com

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: condiment

                                My dayis made. My local Kroger still has Tenn. produced White Lily in the shelves. I managed to get 5-5lnb. bags. I vill vacuum seal them and hope they last until WL. comes to their senses.

                                1. re: Candy

                                  How were you able to tell they were TN bags?

                                  Apparently they've phased out the mixes (not the cornmeal mix, though), too. Bummer. Some of them were good in a pinch.

                                  1. re: Leepa

                                    I don't know about Candy, but the bag I bought the other day (in TN) said it was made in Knoxville. Also, the article linked above says the Knoxville mill is open until the end of the month.

                                    1. re: Leepa

                                      They are marked made in Knoxville.

                                  2. re: condiment

                                    I'm gonna be in Lexington at the end of next week, might have to run over to Midway to pick up some of their flour!

                                    1. re: LabRat

                                      You should be able to find Weisenberger's at pretty much any decent grocery in Lexington.

                                      1. re: condiment

                                        Well, I tried Kroger and Meijer's but all I could find was a small bag of Weisenberger's cornmeal at Kroger's so we decided to drive over to the mill. Picked up a couple of bags of their high gluten flour and a bag of all purpose while my parents stocked up on some cornbread, spoon bread and muffin mixes. The cornbread mix is a southern style (not sweet) and was actually very good. I'll probably use the high gluten flour tonight to make some pizza dough so I can bake some pies in my 2Stone oven later this week. According to the people at the mill the best grocery store in Lexington to find the majority of their products is the Good Foods Co-op. Attached is a photo of the mill and (for no good reason) a shot of a foal in a field nearby.

                                         
                                         
                                    2. re: condiment

                                      Condiment Thanks so much for that link. I'll be ordering from there, no doubt!

                                    3. They'll never learn.

                                      I can foresee a boycott.

                                      DT

                                      1. I usually agree with Candy on most subjects, but I really don't like the doughy biscuits produced by use of White Lily. I like a really thin and crisp biscuit, such as that favored in Virginia: a biscuit that's so thin you can barely split it and butter it. Put on a few super-thin slices of Virginia ham, and you've got perfection.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          Isn't a bleached soft-wheat flour like White Lily exactly what you want for that kind of biscuit?

                                          1. re: condiment

                                            No. Make any biscuit recipe twice, one with AP flour, one with White Lily. You'll see a big difference. It's a matter of taste which you prefer.

                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              It is also better for making Asian dumpling wrappers. The softer wheat does a much better job. I really like it when making Bao. After steaming they fluff beautifully and are so tender they almost melt in your mouth.

                                          2. re: pikawicca

                                            " I like a really thin and crisp biscuit, such as that favored in Virginia: a biscuit that's so thin you can barely split it and butter it. Put on a few super-thin slices of Virginia ham, and you've got perfection."

                                            Wow! I like regular biscuits made with White Lily most of the time, but when we go home to Mom's for the holidays we *always* have a Virginia ham and really thin crispy biscuits- my late Father (from Louisa, VA) was a stickler for the ham tradition, but I always thought that the thin biscuits were because my Mom (who *hates* cooking) had lost her biscuit recipe many years ago, and just started making the hard kind to try and discourage us from getting her to make them!

                                            But much to mom's disdain, all of us kids grew up eating the hard kind and couldn't enjoy the ham any other way.

                                          3. Does anyone know where you can order original White Lily?

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: sliim

                                              See this post, above:

                                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/53028...

                                              1. re: sliim

                                                I think there are still ample supplies in stores around the South. I just bought some at my Bi Lo in Western NC. It still shows the name of the previous owner of White Lily, and has a "best used before" date of March 2009--I assume flour is stamped with a date one year from packing, but can anyone confirm that?

                                                1. re: johnb

                                                  Mine has a 12/2008 date, and I'm wondering if I can just freeze some of it (self rising).

                                                  Edit: Found this on their website:

                                                  "To ensure that you are always buying the freshest possible product, we stamp all our bags with a code date on the side of the bag. White Lily products are considered fresh until the date on the bag. For fresher flour and cornmeal, refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container. Allow flour and cornmeal to come to room temperature before use."

                                                  http://www.whitelily.com/FAQs.aspx#st...

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    I'd just plan on adding more baking powder post date. If using post date and buttermilk I'd increase the baking soda and baking powder.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      You can certainly freeze it and preserve the goodness. All flours do well in the freezer.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        Don't forget to leave it wrapped/sealed until it comes to room temp or it may absorb excessive moisture from room humidity. Consider storing it in smaller-than-full-bag quantities - it'll warm up faster and you won't have to "thaw"/refreeze what you don't use, if only to reduce moisture absorption.

                                                  2. Several Knoxville TV stations had brief mention last night of the final closing of the White Lily plant. (I couldn't find any links this a.m.) Forty were laid off several months ago and the last thirty had their last day yesterday.
                                                    "Smuckers....won't identify they milling operation now producing White Lily, but spokesman .....says it has been a secondary mill of the flour for generations." from
                                                    http://www.ajc.com/living/content/liv...

                                                    I doubt that generations ago, White Lily needed a secondary mill. I must admit I distrust spokesmen, including the Bush Beans dawg.

                                                    "Smucker says the flour is still the same."
                                                    Probably on a sugar high. Probably count on the sugar taste overwhelming the biscuit taste, and the cake texture and the howls of protest.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                      Will the Concord Grape jelly will be known as MD 20/20 jelly? Oy vey!!

                                                      1. re: shallots

                                                        Sugar in biscuits? Hmmm. Never encountered that before. It kind of makes my teeth hurt to think about it.

                                                        1. re: Candy

                                                          The recipe that I used from the NYT - Corrierh? - called for 4T of sugar - I'd omit most of it next time.

                                                        2. re: shallots

                                                          I just stumbled on this thread. My mother would be rolling over in her grave. I'd better not let her know! ;-)

                                                          (she mail-ordered White Lily by the case when she moved to Iowa...)

                                                        3. At one time, there were three great flours from Tennessee, all made from soft winter wheat. They were White Lily (from Knoxville), Martha White (from Nashville, sponsor of the Grand Ole Opry), and Red Band (from Johnson City). Now - all three are owned by Smuckers. If you want soft things, like cakes, pie crusts or biscuits, you need a flour made from soft winter wheat. If you want hard rolls or yeast-raised breads, you need a flour made from hard wheat. Such a flour is Pillsbury. It, too, is owned by Smuckers. Guess which flour Smuckers promotes - Pillsbury.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Potomac Bob

                                                            Have you tried Southern biscuit flour.? This Imo is the best you can get and It's still milled in the south http://www.midstatemills.com/consumer...

                                                            1. re: ironuser

                                                              Thanks for the recommendation, ironuser. My market carries Southern Biscuit, but I've never tried it. I will now!

                                                              1. re: Leepa

                                                                That's great Leepa, give it a try and tell us what you think

                                                          2. To make a lighter flour (similar to White Lily), for each cup of regular all-purpose flour, replace 2 Tablespoons of flour with cornstarch. (1 cup lightened all-purpose flour = 14 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.)

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                              ur du bom antilope :)