Durum Flour vs Semolina


Anonymous from Crow’s Nest, Sydney asks:

“What is the difference between Durum Flour and Semolina and can you substitute them for each other?”

My reply:

“There is a great deal of confusion about the difference. What is referred to as semolina flour in Italy, for instance is not always the same as what is referred to in the USA. As far as in Australia is concerned, you would have to contact someone in the wheat industry.

There’s a vast amount of question-and-answers on this topic – key in ‘difference between durum flour and semolina’ in Yahoo search, for instance.

In a nutshell:

Semolina (pictured above) is the coarsely ground endosperm of durum wheat. The wheels of the mill are set to produce coarser flour particles. High in protein, it is used to make the highest quality pasta. It is also used to make couscous.


Durum flour is a by-product in the production of semolina and is used (in USA) to make some pastas and some specialty breads. I would presume that if durum flour is made from what’s left after the endosperm is removed from the durum wheat, it is lower in protein and a different product.

I would consider them generally not interchangeable for some recipes, and definitely not interchangeable for others, depending on whether you are making bread, pasta or something else. Hope this sheds some light on this etymologically-challenged subject.”

pasta from semolina:

By way of an addenda, here’s some more wheat terminology:

This is name given to the interior of a wheat kernel and makes up about 83% of the whole grain of wheat. The endosperm, once it has been ground down to a powder, is flour.

This is the outer layers of the wheat grain which are removed during the milling of white flour. About 14% of the wheat kernel is the bran. Some bran is rolled to make it flaky and sold for human consumption with the rest being used in animal and poultry feed. Wholemeal flour contains all the naturally occurring bran.

This is the part of the grain which would sprout if it was planted as a seed. It is packed with nutrients and protein with which to nourish a new plant. During milling the germ is usually separated from the rest of the wheat grain because its fat content limits the shelf life of the flour. It is occasionally used as a dietary supplement or sold as animal feed.

Couscous is not part of the wheat grain but a kind of precooked, dried pasta prepared from 100% Durum Wheat Semolina. The granular particles are about 1-2mm in diameter and require cooking.

Bulgar is a kind of pre cooked chopped wheat. It has been traditionally prepared for centuries by boiling the grain (sometimes for days) until thoroughly cooked, then drying before cracking the hardened kernels into coarse pieces. As bulgar wheat is pre cooked it only needs re-hydration before serving.
Posted by Kurma on 2/2/07; 11:09:26 AM

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