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Wondra - what's it all about?

jounipesonen Feb 24, 2012 10:50 PM

I've been using various flours, corn starch, potato flour for YEARS as thickeners for gravies, soups - whatever.

I just plop some in a small glass - add cold water - and stir for a few secs to a slur - and add to the food - bringing it to a quick boil.

No lumps - no uncooked 'additive' - and all as 'instant' as I could wish for

Why in the world would I need another box on my shelf which I surely would pay a premium for?

  1. paulj Feb 24, 2012 11:45 PM

    I started using Wondra within the last year or two. I view it as a wheat version of corn starch. For example it can be used as a slurry to thicken a sauce, giving a result that is closer to a flour roux than I get with corn starch or arrowroot. Sometimes I even sprinkle it directly on hot liquid.

    I've also read that it can be mixed with AP flour to reduce the protein level. Again that is using it like corn starch. In fact I've seen a crepe recipe that uses it in place of wheat flour.

    I cooked for years without it, so clearly it isn't necessary. But still, it is convenient enough that I recently bought a box to use when the canister runs out.

    3 Replies
    1. re: paulj
      jounipesonen Feb 25, 2012 12:26 AM

      ok - thanks - but I prefer to invest shelf space (eg variety of flours) and monetary resources to other things. btw - if you want a real 'powdery' flour - just pop whatever kind of flour you want into one of those coffee bean grinders.

      1. re: jounipesonen
        jamesvb Mar 17, 2012 09:58 PM

        Uggghh really that is not what Wondra flour is.. you can blend flour all day long but-- Wondra flower is pregelitanized flour.. It is first low in protein and also the pregelatinalization makes it not clump when added to sauces at low heat. No need for a slurry. Also when you dust it with anything for sautee' it will make it super crispy.. I use it for fish esp on skin side.. Makes it crackle.. So please dont say its just flour through the blender more.. Ask Eric Ripert he buys it by the bushel.. one of his fave ingredients.

        1. re: jamesvb
          LaLa Mar 22, 2012 02:18 PM

          me and eric have something in common!
          I love it...I would run out of regular flour before I let my self run out of wondra!

    2. sunshine842 Feb 25, 2012 12:29 AM

      isn't this why groceries stores are full of products that we can buy or not buy as we wish?

      Some people like using it -- if you don't...okay.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842
        jounipesonen Feb 25, 2012 02:39 AM

        my original question was just wondering what it was all about as with years of all kinds of cooking, everything had been just fine in the 'thickening department' - easy and simple - so didn't understand what was behind it -
        I got the answer and said I just didn't see the value IMO

        as for grocery shelves - I only WISH the offerings were more varieties of real foods rather than processed ones - that's just my OPINION - and that's what FORUMS are supposed to be all about - n'est-ce pas? :-)

        1. re: jounipesonen
          sunshine842 Feb 25, 2012 03:55 AM

          according to the Gold Medal website, the ingredients for Wondra are:

          "Wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin (a B vitamin), iron, thimamin monomitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid"

          which is *exactly* the same list of ingredients, in the same order of appearance, found in Gold Medal all-purpose flour -- I think the Wondra is milled finer, but I'm not sure how it qualifies as any more or less "processed" than regular flour.

          It's kind of nice to just grab it and use it rather than stopping and mixing up a slurry -- one more dirty dish, etc., etc. It's no big deal to do it the old way, but it's still an extra step or two.

          1. re: jounipesonen
            FoodPopulist Feb 25, 2012 02:26 PM

            Are you looking for groceries to stock wheat so you can mill your own flour?

        2. r
          RelishPDX Feb 25, 2012 12:30 AM

          All Wondra is is wheat flour treated so that it'll absorb moisture quickly. Julia Child recommended using it for crepes to cut the mix and rest cycle for the batter down to next to nothing. At the rate I use it, a can lasts me a good two years, so I don't mind the price for the convenience of being able to shake in *just* the right amount of flour into a gravy or sauce without risking having it lump up, even at the higher temps.

          1. ttoommyy Feb 25, 2012 05:30 AM

            I use Wondra all the time. One of my favorite instructional chefs, Sara Moulton, used it on one of her TV shows and I have ever since I saw her use it. It comes in a slender container and is inexpensive; no strain on cabinet space or wallet. Plus, you can add it directly to a simmering liquid without having to make a slurry. I wouldn't be without it.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ttoommyy
              splatgirl Feb 25, 2012 09:55 AM

              I happen to love Wondra for certain things. I'm a roux thickener kind of girl. I love that Wondra can be used to add additional thickening to things on the fly. It whisks right in to hot liquids without the added step and added liquid of making a slurry or beurre manie.
              It's just flour, but I think it's been hydrated and then freeze dried or something, which is what makes it not clump together when going straight into hot liquids.
              What I don't like about Wondra is that it behaves more like cornstarch when reheated, meaning it loses most or all of its thickening. Fortunately, the easy answer to that is...Wondra :)

              1. re: splatgirl
                jounipesonen Feb 25, 2012 12:19 PM

                A simple flour slurry takes about 15 seconds - am never in THAT much of a hurry :-)

                The bad effect of Wondra is exactly what happens often with 'extra' processing - if adding more flour is the 'answer' - one surely ends up with goopey sauces with all that extra flour.

                Long live the KISS principle :-)

                1. re: jounipesonen
                  sunshine842 Feb 25, 2012 12:22 PM

                  but you don't add any more Wondra than you do flour in a slurry.

                  1. re: sunshine842
                    jounipesonen Feb 25, 2012 11:30 PM

                    I meant that the poster said if it goes blah because of reheating, then you just add more Wondra - thus the 'surplus'

                    1. re: jounipesonen
                      sunshine842 Feb 26, 2012 02:55 AM

                      but the poster also said that cornstarch does the same thing....why is surplus cornstarch more okay?

            2. hotoynoodle Feb 25, 2012 11:12 AM

              i guess my pantry has room for it because i don't have a container of potato flour. :P

              5 Replies
              1. re: hotoynoodle
                jounipesonen Feb 25, 2012 12:15 PM

                Only have a tiny box of potato flour - and that can't be replaced in the same way that the Wondra 'wheat flour clone' would sit next to regular wheat flour - potato flour has its OWN uses - eg desserts. :-)

                1. re: jounipesonen
                  smtucker Feb 25, 2012 12:20 PM

                  Just wondering why you asked then if you were simply going to dismiss everyone's reasons for keeping Wondra in their pantry?

                  Wondra is just one of the infinite varieties of flour; not a "wheat flour clone." It has a place in my pantry, along with about 20 other flour types, because once a year, I use it.

                  1. re: jounipesonen
                    sunshine842 Feb 25, 2012 12:23 PM

                    how can it be a wheat flour clone if it IS wheat flour?

                    1. re: sunshine842
                      erica Feb 25, 2012 01:50 PM

                      I was just wondra-ing about Wondra myself. I rarely use flour for thickening, but I do use it as part of the 3-step breading procedure to fry fish and pounded chicken breasts. I've been using rice flour for this. Is there any advantage in using Wondra?

                      Are there certain flours that give a better result for this purpose?

                      1. re: erica
                        smtucker Feb 25, 2012 02:20 PM

                        I too use Rice flour for this type of breading, so I don't think Wondra will bring anything special to that use. My once-a-year use is just in case the Thanksgiving turkey gives off more juices than expected, I can thicken the gravy I made earlier that morning easily after adding all those precious juices.

                2. ttoommyy Feb 25, 2012 03:30 PM

                  "Why in the world would I need another box on my shelf which I surely would pay a premium for?"

                  $2 for a can that lasts for months is a premium?

                  1. h
                    hawkeyeui93 Feb 25, 2012 04:06 PM

                    Sounds like the OP asked and answered their own question .....

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: hawkeyeui93
                      jounipesonen Feb 25, 2012 11:22 PM

                      Yup - it was interesting :-) - and found that I certainly don't need it


                      "how can it be a wheat flour clone if it IS wheat flour?" - sorry - badly worded - meant that Wondra was functionally and taste wise the same as regular flour (I don't mind the 15 secs for a slurry) - should have said something like 'substitute'

                      my point there was someone said they didn't worry about shelf space as they didn't give space to potato flour - but potato flour does have its own uses NOT replaceable by flour - eg in making Kissels or eg Blueberry Soup http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kissel

                      1. re: jounipesonen
                        paulj Feb 25, 2012 11:27 PM

                        But other starches like corn or arrowroot can be used to thicken fruit soups like that. Tastwise, refined starches are all the same. The differences are mainly in appearance, especially translucency. Wondra, as a wheat starch, is more opaque. Starches also differ in how they behave when reheated or frozen, which is a big concern for commercial processors (who use various modified food starches).

                        You stick with your white flour and potato starch, and I'll stick with my Wondra and arrowroot. :)

                        1. re: paulj
                          jounipesonen Feb 25, 2012 11:39 PM

                          Different tastes - but agree on the 'can' - I had only used what you mention before - but was glad to find the potato flour as it seemed to work better and I preferred the taste with those uses.

                          1. re: jounipesonen
                            jounipesonen Feb 25, 2012 11:49 PM

                            I have arrowroot too - but btw - I don't restrict to white flour - whole wheat goes very nicely with some soups.

                            Also btw - "Taste-wise, refined starches are all the same" - I haven't found any taste differences with corn starch (for shrimp, meat, chicken) but have heard there are many 'pro' chefs that will not use it because of taste. And I do notice decided difference between corn starch and potato starch with the fruit combo. But all this can be personal - which I guess what 'taste' is all about anyhow.

                          2. re: paulj
                            jamesvb Mar 17, 2012 10:00 PM

                            and it makes fish skin super crispy- also add a bit to a fried chicken dredge and see how you like.. It will crackle.

                          3. re: jounipesonen
                            Jerseygirl111 Feb 27, 2012 12:14 AM

                            My mother-in-law always used it for poultry gravys and now so does my hubby. No lumps. No potato flour in my kitchen as I have never made Kissel or Blueberry Soup.

                            1. re: Jerseygirl111
                              jounipesonen Feb 27, 2012 01:04 AM

                              "No potato flour in my kitchen as I have never made Kissel or Blueberry Soup."

                              Try them sometime - potato flour (starch) also good for regular soups.

                              1. re: jounipesonen
                                RelishPDX Feb 27, 2012 02:26 AM

                                I see no reason to make room for potato starch in my cupboard when there's already a perfectly good can of Wondra there. :)

                                1. re: RelishPDX
                                  ttoommyy Feb 27, 2012 06:10 AM

                                  +1 RelishPDX!

                                  1. re: RelishPDX
                                    jounipesonen Feb 27, 2012 08:36 AM

                                    think you missed the point - Wondra and Potato starch are different products for DIFFERENT uses - and neither is used as a 'relish' hopefully :-)

                          4. The Professor Feb 26, 2012 01:01 AM

                            I always thought (and vaguely remember reading somewhere a long time ago) that WONDRA is basically pre-cooked flour. i always figured that's why it blends in so readily without lumping up.

                            1. scubadoo97 Feb 26, 2012 07:29 AM

                              I use it often when browning proteins. After seasoning I dust with Wondra which dries the surface well and aids in browning and gives a slight crisp texture

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: scubadoo97
                                RandomCookingDisordr Feb 26, 2012 09:11 AM

                                +1 here. Wondra works beautifully if you are searing sea scallops, and it leaves a delicate coating. I've tried using AP flour and find it to be too heavy.

                                1. re: RandomCookingDisordr
                                  coll Feb 27, 2012 05:30 AM

                                  That is the main reason I keep it around, if you want to brown something without breading it, nothing else does the trick like Wondra. Scallops especially!

                                  1. re: coll
                                    LaLa Mar 22, 2012 02:28 PM

                                    and pork chops....yum!

                                    1. re: LaLa
                                      coll Mar 22, 2012 05:31 PM

                                      And I'm making oven roasted pork chops over sliced potatoes this week, first time in a long while, glad you reminded me to use Wondra.

                                2. re: scubadoo97
                                  chefj Feb 27, 2012 03:45 PM

                                  The best for Sweetbreads as well.

                                3. paulj Feb 27, 2012 09:08 AM

                                  Wondra - good for making gravies and batters, and for breading fish
                                  potato starch - good because it is allowed for Passover.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: paulj
                                    jounipesonen Feb 27, 2012 09:43 AM

                                    Comprehensive overview - thanks - seems to give a place for everything.

                                  2. a
                                    awm922 Feb 27, 2012 03:39 PM

                                    I have been using Wondra for over 20 yrs. I use it for mostly coating my protein when making a marsala dish or whenever I saute any protein. I seals the meat without getting too thick like when using flour.

                                    It's almost like having no coating at all, but just enough to leave the meat nice and moist.

                                    I will use it as a thickener for chili's an stews also.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: awm922
                                      paulj Feb 27, 2012 06:41 PM

                                      Using Wondra for browning meat has a bit of a negative association for me. I had a suite mate in college whose one and only dish was roasted chicken pieces dredged in Wondra. While I was cooking my way through Joy of Cooking. But if it works well I should try it.

                                      1. re: paulj
                                        ttoommyy Mar 3, 2012 05:55 AM

                                        Paulj: JOC is my go-to cookbook and I use Wondra.

                                      2. re: awm922
                                        ksmith51432 Mar 3, 2012 05:34 AM

                                        If you are using a 2 - 3 step breading process, that is a different issue than just dusting a meat w/ a flour and pan frying w/ no 'batter' -- the secret IMO to that process is to dip the meat into the flour, shake off any excess and immediately place in heated/oiled pan. If you 'pre' flour - the moisture in the meat will make the flour soggy and you won't get a crispy lightly browned filet or chop - and it will have a tendency to fall off. Do it one or two pieces at a time - don't overcrowd the pan; remove the cooked portions to a rack and keep warm while you finish the servings.

                                      3. danna Feb 28, 2012 06:33 AM

                                        thanks for posting. After reading this thread I'm convinced I need some Wondra right away. I find that I whenever I need to make a slurry I have 10 other things finishing up in the kitchen and timers going off etc. I make a mess and inevitably wind up with a lump or two.

                                        Is it sold near the flour? regular grocery or specialty store?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: danna
                                          wyogal Feb 28, 2012 06:35 AM

                                          Yes, near the flour, towards the top, usually.

                                          1. re: danna
                                            sunshine842 Feb 28, 2012 06:57 AM

                                            blue cylindrical box (like a parmesan-cheese box) with a white shaker lid and the orange Gold Metal logo.

                                            1. re: danna
                                              ttoommyy Feb 28, 2012 08:05 AM

                                              It's in most every supermarket danna. Exactly where the other posts mention. I used it just last night to thicken a gravy for the Salisbury steak I was making and this thread ran through my head. All I had to do was shake some into the beef broth and in seconds I had a beautiful gravy.

                                            2. g
                                              gene621 Mar 7, 2012 09:25 PM

                                              Just to clarify what Wondra is exactly.. it is an instant flour.. which means simply that it is all-purpose flour that has been pre-cooked at high heat in water, then dried out and milled back into a fine powder. Since the flour has already been cooked, that means that it will dissolve instantly, with no lumps, no matter how hard you try to screw it up. Give a novice some all purpose flour and they will dump it into whatever is being prepared and will end up with lumps. You can take Wondra, and essentially drop it directly into your simmering sauce, and never ever have to worry about lumps while still thickening the sauce perfectly. Jounipesonen is correct in that if normal flour is used properly, you can achieve the same results without the extra cost. However, for the lazy people amongst us (myself included), it is definitely a useful thing to have on hand. I hope that clears things up a bit :)

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: gene621
                                                sunshine842 Mar 7, 2012 10:41 PM

                                                thanks for that, gene -- we'd figured out it was all-purpose flour, just hadn't sorted what the extra step was that makes it different.

                                                1. re: gene621
                                                  RelishPDX Mar 7, 2012 10:53 PM

                                                  I would add that since Wondra is pre-cooked, it also takes no time to 'cook out' the raw flour taste in gravies and sauces, as there is no raw flour in Wondra. A gravy may otherwise be done with the exception of its level of thickness, but adding a raw flour slurry would involve further cooking. With Wondra, it involves barely more than a quick stir. The last thing I want to taste in an otherwise masterfully created gravy is raw flour. That's the sign of an unsophisticated cook.

                                                2. Caroline1 Mar 17, 2012 01:15 PM

                                                  MY ONLY problem with Wondra is that where I live there is plenty of demand but no supply. For whatever reason, the store where I do most of my shopping ONLY carries it during the Thanksgiving to Christmas season when it sells out VERY fast! If my memory hasn't failed altogether, I do believe I first began using Wondra in the '60s when it came in a flour bag (paper) just like AP flour. Now it seems to come in a round shaker box at a premium price unless you have access to a food service warehouse. You can indeed shake it directly into hot liquid and it will not lump. It *IS* wheat flour and will produce exactly the same result as using a slurry unless your recipe calls for a slurry because of the added liquid content. Since I don't particularly want a 50 pound bag of it lurking in a corner of my kitchen the rest of my life, I just use slurries and beurre manie these days. But sometimes I do wish I had some Wondra...

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                    paulj Mar 17, 2012 01:58 PM

                                                    All those people making Thanksgiving gravy just like grandma used to - with Wondra! Gives new meaning to grandmother's cooking.

                                                    I happen to have a 2lb box, but only because Grocery Outlet (a clearance shop) had a temporary stock of it.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                                      wyogal Mar 17, 2012 03:36 PM

                                                      Have you asked your grocery store to stock it on a more regular basis?

                                                      1. re: wyogal
                                                        Caroline1 Mar 17, 2012 06:21 PM

                                                        I could probably order Wondra on-line if I wanted. Instead I keep an adorable little mini-whisk to incorporate wheat flour into a slurry, or I usually have a ramekin of buerre manie in the fridge just in case I'm hit with a wild compulsion to turn a can of tomato sauce into soup. '-)

                                                      2. re: Caroline1
                                                        jamesvb Mar 17, 2012 10:30 PM

                                                        i will send ya some since you were nice to me

                                                        1. re: jamesvb
                                                          Caroline1 Mar 17, 2012 11:05 PM

                                                          LOL! Thank you. You can email it to me and then I can eat all I want with no fear of weight gain! '-)

                                                          I do recall ALWAYS having it on hand in the '60s. I don't recall when I drifted away from it because of scarcity. More importantlyI can't remember if I did much baking with it. Specifically, I'm wondering about whether it would make an excellent pate au choux? And would it forrm a ball and pull away from the pan properly? (Oh, Caroline, go sit down and shut up. You need cream puffs like a hole in the head!) Curious minds and all that jazz... '-)

                                                      3. s
                                                        StrandedYankee Mar 17, 2012 10:17 PM

                                                        My mother always loved Wondra. She always liked it better than cornstarch for last minute thickening. I always make too much roux for my recipes deliberately and then add it in a little at a time until I have the consistency I want, so I rarely use it for thickening. Still, I keep it around because, well, you just never know. Also, someone else wrote that it make for a beautifully crispy dredging flour. That is absolutely true, and dredging is what I primarily use it for.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: StrandedYankee
                                                          jamesvb Mar 17, 2012 10:35 PM

                                                          yeah i keep a jar of bacon roux around, but wondra is just great dusting stuff to get crisp and brown. use it on a piece of fish and it will be crispy with out being too floury.

                                                          1. re: StrandedYankee
                                                            jamesvb Mar 17, 2012 10:39 PM

                                                            now are you a Yankee stranded or stranded with yankees?

                                                            1. re: jamesvb
                                                              StrandedYankee Mar 17, 2012 10:44 PM

                                                              Actually, I am no longer a stranded Yankee. A native of Philadelphia, PA I lived in Nashville, TN for six and a half years. I joined Chowhound a few years ago, and took that as my user name. Five weeks ago I moved back to Philadelphia. I've looked for a way to change the user name, but if there is one it's eluding me. You may feel free to call me Sarah.

                                                              1. re: jamesvb
                                                                jamesvb Mar 17, 2012 10:51 PM

                                                                There is another post asking if you can "make" or fake wondra flour-- i would say you would have to use the lowest protein flour and blend it with some corn starch.. not sure that would work as well.. and then to the earlier point that puts you at more flours where as a can of Wondra is like 2.50 and its not a bag its a cool light blue can jar or whatever you wanna call it..

                                                            2. l
                                                              latindancer Mar 21, 2012 10:30 PM

                                                              I was absolutely blessed to be taught cooking techniques by my grandmother who was raised in Quebec. I had my own personal Julia Child.
                                                              My pantry has always been well stocked with Wondra....my grandmother used it, as did my mother.
                                                              I use it for my beurre manie when I make my Thanksgiving turkey...
                                                              I use it for my beurre manie for my Boeuf Bourguignon...
                                                              I use it to dredge my chicken or veal for marsala or piccata...
                                                              My soups and braisings...
                                                              I use it to roll out my pie dough on...
                                                              It's a wonderful thickener for my fruit pies...
                                                              It is, literally, one of those 'wondrous' ingredients I don't know what I'd do without.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: latindancer
                                                                Caroline1 Mar 22, 2012 04:33 AM

                                                                I used to use Wondra until it became so difficult to find in stores where I shop, so I'm not unfamiliar with it. I'm just curious why you use it for buerre manier when the entire purpose of buerre manier is to turn regular flour into a kissing cousin of Wondra? The advantage of buerre manier over a roux is that for some strange reason, you can add buerre manier at the last minute and it will thicken your sauce lumplessly AND will not impart that floury taste that has to be cooked out of both a roux (before adding liquid) and a slurry. There's nothing wrong with using Wondra in a buerre manie. It's just that when Wondra is hard to come by, such as where I live, Wondra is precious...!

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