After years of ‘window shopping’ for a grain mill, I finally have my very own, and am grinding my own whole wheat flour, since last December.
THE GRAIN MILL
This is the grain mill model I purchased. It grinds up to 700g of berries per batch. 700g is about 4 cups of wheat berries, which makes 5-6 cups of flour.
Link to the product page (or click on the picture above): https://amzn.to/31whDgC
The bottom section of the grain mill is the powerful motor, and the upper compartment holds the grain and the blade. The appliance is heavier than it looks. On the back of the appliance there’s a handy red handle to use in pouring the flour out.
Where to buy:
Wheat berries can be purchased by the pound here, at a local feed & seed store. I most recently paid 75 cents/pound. Wheat berries can also be purchased at some natural food stores, or ordered online. Here are a couple of options on Amazon:
- A 24 lb pail of wheat berries for $37.06 https://amzn.to/30z9yIT
- A 5 lb bag of wheat berries for $13.95 https://amzn.to/2XFknan
How to prepare the wheat:
I inquired with our local extension office about clean and safe preparation and use of wheat berries purchased from a feed & seed store. Their instructions were:
- Use hard wheat; not the soft variety;
- The wheat should be dry. Don’t wash it, because that will soften it, which will make it unsuitable for grinding.
- Freeze the wheat berries for a couple of days, to kill the things that take up residence in growing wheat. (There’s a great discussion about those little ‘things’ here. In other words, don’t be grossed out about what’s in wheat; just follow the steps from the extension office.)
- Sift the wheat berries with a wire mesh strainer, to remove dust and the things that got killed in the freezing process.
- Eat only cooked or baked foods made with the wheat; nothing raw. (Translation: This is one of the reasons you’re not supposed to eat raw cookie dough. Sorry kids; this bums me out too.)
- The standard food handling rule applies: Wash your hands before and after handling the wheat berries.
THE GRINDING PROCESS
Measure the wheat berries, sift, and then pour the berries into the mill.
Grind for about 5 minutes. The grinding compartment and wheat get very hot, so I run the mill for one minute at a time; letting it cool for a few minutes between each minute of grinding.
Here is what the flour looks like after 1 minute of grinding and again after 5 minutes. The two pictures might not look all that different, but they feel different to the touch. After 1 minute, the texture is a little bit grainy, like a very fine sand. After 5 minutes it is a soft powder.
STORAGE AND SHELF LIFE
Wheat berries have a years-long shelf life. You can buy and store wheat berries in bulk, without fear of them going bad. I’ve stored them for years in a dark cabinet in an airtight container. I noticed no change in taste, smell or texture.
After grinding, the whole wheat flour should be stored in the frig and used within about 3 months. I grind my berries on an as-needed basis, and keep a cup or less of the flour on hand in the frig. King Arthur Flour recommends storing whole wheat flour in the freezer. https://shop.kingarthurbaking.com/items/king-arthur-premium-100-whole-wheat-flour-5-lb
Is it necessary to use a mill to make flour? Probably yes. I’ve tried grinding wheat berries in an electric coffee grinder. It produced tiny granules the consistency of fine sand, but did not make flour. The granules didn’t go to waste though. They were a super tasty addition to my oatmeal.
I’ve tried grinding wheat with a food processor, and no, it simply didn’t work.
BAKING WITH WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
Whole wheat flour creates a more dense, flatter, heavier product. If you don’t want that, use a combination of wheat flour and all-purpose white flour. My general ratios:
- In cookies, I use a ratio of 1 part whole wheat to 3 parts all-purpose flour. (1/4 c. w/w : 3/4 c. a/p)
- In breads, I use a ratio of 1 part whole wheat to 2 parts all-purpose flour. (1/3 c. w/w : 2/3 c. a/p)
In my recent post about DIY make-ahead bread machine mixes I used 1/3 whole wheat flour from my mill. See that darker colored flour in the bottom of the jars? That’s the w/w flour. That combination gives some of the benefits of whole wheat, but not the flat, heavy loaf. It retains the lighter, fluffier texture from the white all-purpose flour.
HOW ABOUT SOME MUSIC?
The Slice The Life 2020 Album Draft continues. For the latest ‘desert island album’ picks, click here.
Latest Run-Sew-Read picks are:
For Round 3, I sort of shook things up with a bluegrass-gospel pick:
For Round 4, I went back to rock and roll:
Six more rounds to go!