Brown rice flour is made from whole grain rice while white rice flour is made from ground white rice, which contains no bran (the bran is stripped from the rice in order to make white rice). Therefore, the nutritional value is decreased in white rice flour:
- Protein – 1 cup white rice flour = 9.4 grams/1 cup brown rice flour = 11.42 grams
- Carbs – 1 cup white rice flour = 126.6 grams/1 cup brown rice flour = 120.8 grams
- Fiber – 1 cup white rice flour = 3.8 grams/1 cup brown rice flour = 7.3 grams
- Folate (a water-soluble B vitamin) - 1 cup white rice flour = 5 grams/1 cup brown rice flour = 25 grams
- Calories – 1 cup white rice flour = 578 calories/1 cup brown rice flour = 574 calories
In addition, brown rice flour has a better flavour – nutty and slightly sweet, which makes it a better option for baking sweets such as cookies and cakes. White rice flour is tasteless. In terms of texture, brown rice flour will often result in a slightly heavier product versus white rice flour.
Like other whole grain flours, brown rice flour can go rancid quite quickly because of the natural fats and oils in the grain. You can determine if flour is rancid by smelling it – if it smells sour, it is time to throw it out. To improve the shelf life of brown rice flour, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. In addition, purchase small amounts of the flour so you can use it all up before it goes bad. Brown rice flour will typically last for 4 – 5 months in the fridge or up to one year in the freezer. I suggest labelling the expiry date of the flour on the storage container to serve as a reminder. White rice flour, on the other hand, will last indefinitely if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry location.
I typically limit the amount of rice flour I use in baking, as the taste can be quite gritty. Combined with other gluten free flours, such as sorghum flour or tapioca starch, this gritty taste can be minimized. I suggest not using more than 25% of rice flour, white or brown, in comparison to other flours in your baking. In order to increase the nutritional value in your baking, choose brown rice flour. However, if you find that your baked goods are coming out a bit heavier than desired (which is a common issue with gluten free baking), you may want to switch over to white rice flour instead.