Noodle with oodles of fans

Cally DupeCountryman
Wagin farmer Howie Ward at the Yoshihara Flour Mill in Japan.
Camera IconWagin farmer Howie Ward at the Yoshihara Flour Mill in Japan. Credit: Cally Dupe

Yoshihara Flour Mill

The silky texture and creamy colour of Australian noodle wheat means one Japanese flour miller doesn’t want to source noodle wheat from anywhere else in the world.

Nearly all of the flour produced at Yoshihara Flour Mill is produced using Australian grain — about 13,000 tonnes of its 17,000 tonne annual milling capacity.

The family-run corporation has been milling flour in Japan’s Okayama district since 1902, and the company has become famous for the silky smooth udon noodle flour it creates with Australian Soft White Noodle blend.

Flour processing at the Yoshimara Flour Mill in Japan.
Camera IconFlour processing at the Yoshimara Flour Mill in Japan. Credit: Cally Dupe

The mill produces 16,000 tonnes of flour for udon noodles, breads, cakes and biscuits each year, primarily distributing the products throughout Tokyo and Osaka.

While touring the Yoshihari Flour Mill earlier this month on the CBH Grower Study Tour, WA farmers heard how their wheat was highly desired for its texture and colour.

The mill has become renowned for its smooth udon noodle, which Yoshihara Flour Mill president Ryoichi Yoshihara said was milled into the Japanese public’s favourite udon noodle, sanuki udon.

Yoshihara Flour Mill president Ryoichi Yoshihara.
Camera IconYoshihara Flour Mill president Ryoichi Yoshihara. Credit: Cally Dupe

Mr Yoshihara, who proudly showed the group a photograph of him with former PM Malcolm Turnbull, said he had visited Australia six times with Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre.

“ASWN has a very smooth texture, and the udon noodles are almost like silk,” he said.

“They are sticky, like elastic with a bouncy texture.

“Not too hard, not too soft, just right. It is very special.”

Grain is processed at the Yoshihara Flour Mill in Japan.
Camera IconGrain is processed at the Yoshihara Flour Mill in Japan. Credit: Cally Dupe

Yoshihara mills have imported the Australian ASWN blend since 1969, when domestic production could not meet demand.

Noodle blends from WA are still the preferred stock for milling thanks to the texture, creamy white colour, and its resistance to bleaching when cooked in water.

Growers wander around the Yoshihara Flour Mill in Japan.
Camera IconGrowers wander around the Yoshihara Flour Mill in Japan. Credit: Cally Dupe

Mr Yoshihara said the “stickiness” of the noodles “continued for a long time”, which was one of the “most unique and wonderful features of ASWN”.

He said Sanuki udon noodles contained 11 to 16 per cent moisture, but the company did not buy high-moisture grain because it was difficult to store.

Growers check out the sifter at the Yoshihara Flour Mill, in Japan.
Camera IconGrowers check out the sifter at the Yoshihara Flour Mill, in Japan. Credit: Countryman, Cally Dupe

“We store grain for six to 12 months,” he said.

Mr Yoshiara said he had noticed an improvement in the quality of the 2018-19 crop, compared to 2017-18, which he believed was because there was more of InterGrain’s Zen wheat variety being grown.

Dale farmer Vanessa Hewitt with some of the products from Yoshihara Flour Mill in Japan.
Camera IconDale farmer Vanessa Hewitt with some of the products from Yoshihara Flour Mill in Japan. Credit: Cally Dupe

“For the past two to three years the structure of the variety has been changing... it used to be all Calingiri, but Zen is expanding, and Ninja, Supreme and Kinsei,” he said.

“We are always keen to know about the new variety that suits growers and is fit for our requirement.

“But it takes six months to test a variety to know if it is good.”

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