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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

oh oh… where’s the rye flour?

Filed under: food & drink,whine — ejm @ 10:29 EDT

summary: difficulties in finding rye flour – AGAIN

It is almost a year ago that I wrote the following:

How is it that this huge cosmopolitan city of Toronto does not have a store near by that sells the following at a reasonable price?!

  1. rye flour

Last year, we finally found rye flour here in Toronto at a supermarket chain called Sobeys. We paid Cdn$5.60 for a 2.5kg bag of “Five Roses” dark rye flour. (We usually avoid the Sobeys chain – they generally overcharge disgracefully: $5/lb for butter… fully a dollar more than we pay at ‘no frills’ supermarket down the street.)

Yesterday, we rode our bikes over to the store to replenish the rye flour. NO 2.5kg bags of “Five Roses” dark rye flour!! They did have some little bags of “Bob’s Red Mill”: at around $3 for 600gms! We continued riding, visiting all the supermarket chains. Not one of them was selling rye flour in bags larger than 600gm (Yes, it was BRM, all priced about the same, give or take 25ยข). Most of them had zero rye flour on their shelves. Some of them had 5kg bags of a multigrain blend wheat flour (white and whole wheat), cracked wheat, cracked rye and whole flax. How useless is that? :stomp:

Rye flour is available in bulk at health food stores, but it’s expensive. Apparently it’s available downstairs at St.Lawrence Market too. It’s probably sold at “Whole Foods” too but I don’t think they’ll let me in there; my biking clothes aren’t designer and I’m not sure we have enough of a credit limit on our cards to pay if we do find rye flour there. ;-)

At one of the stores we visited yesterday, we tracked down the manager. He said that they USED to have bags of rye flour but stopped carrying them because nobody bought them. (Goodness, how sad to learn the demoralizing fact that I’m “nobody”.) He did apologize. And he was very pleasant and nice. But he didn’t offer to get the rye flour to put onto his shelves….

So what gives? Rye bread is available pretty much everywhere. Is whatever rye that isn’t used by the commercial bakeries going to the distilleries to make whisky? Don’t get me wrong. I like rye whisky/whiskey too! But I think if I had to choose between having rye whisky and rye bread, I’d choose the bread….

So again, I ask: where in Toronto can I buy rye flour at a reasonable price? A 5kg bag would be nice.

edit at 10:40am EDT: I just spoke with someone at “Five Roses” and am absolutely devastated to learn that their “dark rye” flour has been discontinued due to slow sales. Wah!!! One good thing though, the woman I spoke with did say that she would pass on my dismay to the correct department, with the note that as the price of wheat rises, people will be looking for alternative grains.

2nd edit at 12:25pm EDT: I didn’t mention that “Five Roses” (was a Canadian company) is now owned by the US based company “Smucker Foods”. And now here’s some really disturbing news. “Robin Hood” (that I always thought was Canadian, but googling shows that it was started in the US and moved into Canada in the earlier part of the 1900s) is now ALSO owned by “Smucker Foods”. So much for competition….

Are Reuben sandwiches a luxury item now?
I’m really concerned that we’re not going to be able to get our fix of Reuben sandwiches this year! But it’s looking that way if we can only find rye flour for $5/k! (I haven’t looked to see the cost of a loaf of rye bread – I’m determined NOT to buy bread ready made! It’s just not as good!)

whisky vs whiskey
It is driving me crazy that Firefox is telling me that “whisky” is misspelled. I know I can add it to my own private firefox dictionary but come on… “whisky” isn’t exactly an unknown. Ask any Scot.)


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  • Mats Flemstrom

    I’ve been looking for rye flour as well. I finally found a source at a local bulk food store. It cost $1.29 / lb. It certainly is no longer a supermarket item any longer.

    I’ll take a look at our local bulk store and hope I can find it for $3/kg as well (or less). That does seem a little better than $5/kg. Thank you, Mats.
    Let’s hope that my call to “Five Roses” today will produce some results. The woman I spoke to did seem as if she was listening and was going to pass on my query. -Elizabeth

  • Pingback: Taste T.O. - Food & Drink In Toronto » Blog-A-Log - Saturday, August 30th()

  • R Yaniv

    Happened across this ’cause I was looking for rye recipes.

    I have recently started buying rye flour to avoid eating wheat (possible sensitivity) and crackers are starting to get a bit same old. I sympathize with your search as I often find that food products that I buy regularly disappear off the shelves. And so I came to the conclusion long ago that someone must follow me around making note of what I purchase and then promptly discontinuing it. So if there is no rye, it is probably my fault.

    Here in Surrey, BC, I found at Save-On-Foods only Rogers Brand dark rye flour 2.5K bag on the top shelf (not eye-level) and BRM rye did not exist in the health food aisles (suburb or ghetto?) where many of that company’s products usually lurk.

    Good luck in the search for rye!
    (We have a bottled lemon juice problem here. Health food aisle to the rescue.)

  • Jeanne

    You know that movie The Seventh Sign? I’m beginning to feel a little like that. “First, the rye flour disappeared. Then, it was the lemon juice, But nobody took any notice…”!!


    With more and more people being diagnosed with wheat intolerance, you’d think there would be a boom in non-wheat flour sales…

  • ejm

    You’d think so, Jeanne, but rye flour may be on the list of forbidden flours for those with wheat intolerances. I know it is definitely disallowed for people on gluten-free diets. (See Celiac Sprue Information: Grains and Flours Glossary)

    R.Yaniv, aren’t fresh lemons about the same price as bottled lemon juice? And the juice would be better too. Although, on second thought, please don’t go looking for fresh lemons. They (the “they” who are following you around) may discontinue the importation of lemons. ;-)


    P.S. I still think that all the rye is being usurped by the distillers to supply an ever-growing need for more whiskey/whisky so people can drown their sorrows that these things are disappearing from the shelves.

    In re: “The Seventh Sign”, hmmm, should we all start carrying signs saying “the end is nigh” or shall we just continue on our course of “eating, drinking and being merry”? :-)

  • R Yaniv

    I like the eating and being merry part. However I don’t know if we should give support for drinking if it is to consume beverages brewed from rye!

    On a different note, the rye and oatmeal scones I made turned out well. Buoyed by this wheatless success I shall attempt all rye bread with potato and apricots and some version of muffins made using a mangled all purpose flour recipe.

    Also, I believe that your lemons are safe as I do use fresh for some things. But there are some recipes that actually call for bottled lemon juice from concentrate because the juice has a known acidity that is required for the recipe, eg When canning salsa.

  • Julie

    I live in Michigan in the U>S>A and I am finding it harder to locate 5 lb. bags of Rye Flour. I stopped at 3 different stores. Walmart does carry it in a box! Not a very large box. I did find one bag left at a local store and it was $5.49. The 17oz. bags are available(Bobs Red Mill) for over $3.00 but I will not stoop to paying that much! Thanks for all your suggestions. I will look at the health food stores in the area. Bar that, my daughter is bringing me a bag from Iowa! I totally agree that you can’t live without home made bread….especially sourdough rye. A good bread book is Crust and Crumb. I highly recommend it!

    Yup, Julie, it seems that someone somewhere has done demographic research and decided that NOBODY wants rye flour any more. What really bothers me is that we can buy a multigrain flour mixture – because of course, the flour company can make a big profit on that. :lalala:
    Are you saying that you found a 5lb bag for $5.49? Let’s see now… we pay about $5.50 for 11 lb unbleached all-purpose so that’s about double the price for rye flour… sigh… what a shame that sourdough rye is becoming such a luxury item!
    I know that I got “Crust and Crumb” out of the library but as I recall, even though there were some good tips, I didn’t neeeeeeed to buy my own copy. Personally, I’ve never been a giant fan of Peter Reinhart’s but I know there are a lot of people who swear by his recipes (or formulae, if you prefer). And I’m really glad his book works for you, Julie. -Elizabeth
    (I see that “Bob’s Red Mill Baking Book” has a foreward written by Reinhart; maybe that’s why Red Mill rye flour is so readily available. Too bad it’s not readily available in slightly larger, more reasonably priced quantities. :stomp:)

  • Milos Kalab

    If there is a “Bulk Food” store in your area, you may fill your bag with as much dark rye flour as you please. Other kinds of flour including barley flour, bean flour etc. are also available.

    That is true, Milos. But the flour prices at the “Bulk Food” store are just as high as anywhere else. Actually, higher. -Elizabeth

  • Lili

    I recently bought rye flour 1.99/kg in Future Bakery outlet in Toronto (North Queen st & East Mall )

    Thanks for the information, Lili! I’ll have to check into that. -Elizabeth

  • Ellen Lohiser

    I too have been having problems locating rye flour. I had been buying it at Walmarts the Hodgson Mill brand in a 2# box. Occasionally at Publix stores in a small 2# bag, brand?? (I think Bob’s Red Mill) I went to replenish my supply since I bake all of our breads I usually buy 3-4 boxes at a time, and they have been rye, for well over a year now, to find the shelves empty! To my dismay, no one seems to have an answer about why?? If people have stopped using it, then why are we all out there scouring the shelves looking for it? I am beginning to think there is a conspiracy going on somewhere.

  • Jean-Margret

    I have been to 6 different grocery chains, and several ‘health food’ stores in the Wisconsin and Chicago areas looking for medium rye flour, and can only find Hodgson Mill whole grain rye, which is fine for pumpernickel, but I want to make swedish limpa which NEEDS Robin Hood Medium rye flour. Bakeries can still get rye flour, why can’t we? Where do they get it from? I have complained everywhere about this and did get one suggestion that may work: if you put the hodgson’s thru your own grain mill, you might be able to to get closer to the previously available everywhere robin hood medium rye flour.

  • Ruth

    Why?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Every year I buy Rye flour to make my gramma’s recipe for swedish limpa. Every year I bought Robin Hood Rye flour because it worked the best. Now, all I can find is a very poor substitute. Who’s birdbrained idea was it to discontinue this product? I tried to go to the Robin Hood site and complain but you have to have a canadian address to leave a comment. I tried using the stone ground stuff but it was a wasted effort. There goes yet another treasured family tradition. I have yet to discover another alternative for medium rye flour. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • orlo

    I like to make sour dough Rye bread and have noticed that none of our supermarkets carry rye flour any more. Most provinces now have Bulk Barn and they do carry rye and most other baking goods that I use. They aren’t cheap but they are cheaper than the health food store and have a wider assortment of products icluding 12 grain cereal, 12 grain flour, spices, seeds etc. I’ll continue to buy my wheat flour from a local mill here near London or from the supermarket when I am feeling cheap, both seem to work well and are more likely to be fresh.
    Good luck


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