Stocking my pantry has always included a 25 pound bag of flour, but in planning for long term that’s not enough, and this is where fresh grain can fill the gap. Stored properly, wheat berries will last indefinitely. Not only that, but health benefits of freshly milled grain is good for your health. No more guilt about eating bread.
If you showed someone your lunch of wheat berries, they would likely compliment you on a healthy food choice. But if you show someone your piece of bread, it seems like a guilty pleasure. Grinding those wheat berries into bread isn’t much different than eating fresh. Baking with freshly milled flour has a myriad of health benefits. According to the website, Real Food RN, “When flour is produced on a mass scale, it loses the majority of the grain’s naturally-occurring vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants, thanks to processing. Most of the nutrition in grain is found in the bran and germ of the kernel. But commercial flours remove the bran and germ because without the oils that those parts contain, the flour lasts longer on the shelves. The grain kernel contains over 30 nutrients, and most of them are removed during the commercial milling process. Even if you buy “enriched” flour, you are only getting a fraction of the nutrition that is readily available in the whole grain.”
I have a Wonder Mill grain grinder, and I cannot declare it superior to all others, as it’s the only one I’ve owned.
I can tell you before switching to a Bosch mixer, I looked into the grain grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid. Reviews showed the Kitchen Aid wasn’t.powerful enough, and overheated forcing users to give the mixer 20 minute breaks. Also, many said it was terribly loud. The Wonder Mill touts its machine as “The World’s Quietest Mill.” While noise isn’t the most important consideration, I really wanted an appliance capable of doing the job so I decided against the Kitchen Aid.
The Wonder Mill makes a beautiful flour, and you can choose between pastry, bread and coarse settings.
You can grind wheat, rice, beans, buckwheat, and oats to name a few. Some things you can’t grind with the electric Wonder Mill are sunflower seeds, coffee beans, nuts, or sesame seeds. There is a website called “Will It Grind?” showing what you can, and cannot mill. The electric Wonder Mill’s counterpart, Wonder Junior Deluxe which requires hand cranking, will grind a larger array of items. And if the electricity goes out, the Wonder Junior Deluxe can still be used. The downside is, you have to hand crank. I would eventually like to get the Wonder Junior Deluxe to have a non-electric option, and the fact you can grind more items, but for everyday use, the Wonder Mill is a good place to start.
The cons of my Wonder Mill is the carrier bucket jumps when you start the appliance, and it’s a trick to get the top down sometimes to avoid a powdery puff of flour everywhere. It’s a bit slower with larger grains or beans, but the Wonder Mill still does the job well, and I would buy it again.
Milling the grain is a mindless task, but understanding how to cook with freshly milled flour takes some knowledge and experience. I’m going to spotlight some of the ancient grains in upcoming articles, but I want to start with the three main types of grain – hard red wheat, hard white wheat, and soft white heat. As you can see, the hard wheats look very similar.
Soft white wheat
Hard white wheat
Hard red wheat
Red and hard white wheat have enough protein for gluten formation, making them suitable for yeast breads. Soft white wheat is used for goodies like muffins, biscuits and cookies. The red hard wheat is very nutty, and stronger in taste than hard white wheat. It takes a little bit to adjust to cooking with these flours opposed to the trusty all-purpose white flour, but the health benefits are worth the effort. With recipes calling for all-purpose flour, you may need to adjust amounts when using freshly milled flour.
Although it is most convenient to mill flour in big batches, that’s not the best idea. According to “The Essential Home-Ground Flour Book” by Sue Becker, “Some researchers recommend storing ground flour for no more than two weeks. Studies showed storage may significantly reduce the nutritional viability of freshly milled flour, detecting rancidity in as little as 2 to 14 days.” I personally mill my flour right before baking, but sometimes I have a little extra which I stick in a jar and dump into other recipes as needed.
Besides baking with grain, you can also sprout the wheat berries for salads and wraps. Wheat berries can be transformed into desserts and cereal. Except for water, wheat berries are the most valuable pantry prep. I order my grain from Azure Standard, and you can order five pound bags to play with, before ordering larger quantities.
I’ll be blogging some bread recipes using these, and other grains. If you mill your own grain and have any advice, or recipes to share, please post in the comments.