Wednesday, January 9, 2008


I'm going to continue on the nutrition idea. Today I'm going to write about grinding wheat. Yes, we do buy some of our flour at the store, but we also buy wheat berries and grind them ourselves. I think it's important to note that home ground wheat is healthier because it contains the entire wheat berry, whereas wheat flour from the store only contains parts. They remove the germ and only use the endosperm in most wheat flours. Whole wheat flour has to use the whole wheat berry. Anyway, there are a lot of nutrients in the germ and it is important to keep that with your flour. It is also important to note that freshly ground wheat does not keep indefinitely, if you are not going to use it immediately you should store it in the freezer.

We have a hand crank wheat grinder that we used for awhile, but eventually we determined that we needed something a little faster and a little less energy intensive. Now we have an electric model that does a wonderful job and is much faster and I don't end up sore after using it. I realize that it uses electricity, but for now, that is what we have. Some day I hope to set up a bike trainer so that I can just pedal to grind my wheat, but until then I'm going to use the electric one.

Is there a difference in quality? Nutritionally, there is absolutely a difference, but I have a hard time evaluating taste. I can eat anything and taste is not one of my stronger senses. It does make a difference with breads because the flour is heavier so things don't rise as well. There may be something to do with gluten to, but I would have to consult my wife about that to be able to really explain it. We often mix our home ground flour with store bought in order to get a bread that will actually rise, but still has a high quantity of whole wheat flour for the nutritional benefits (and I like to think that it tastes better, although I really can't tell the difference).

The main limiting factor with home ground wheat is storage. Before you grind the wheat, you can store it indefinitely, but after it is ground it needs to be kept in the freezer. Since we have limited freezer space, that means we grind a little bit of flour fairly regularly. I've always wondered if I could grind the wheat berries a first time and then put the resulting flour into the hopper to grind it again on an even finer setting. I am sure that i could do that, but would it yield a fine enough flour to be used like white flour? I may have to test that.

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