Thursday, August 16, 2012

Local Wheat, Where to Buy, Grain Mills, and More!

Did you gals see the post I put up right under this one? Yes- the one about my second born turning 17. Well, I measure my "how long I've been grinding wheat and making bread" by him :)  ..I started somewhere right before or right after he was born. ...I remember having wheat buckets in the house when he was a baby.:)

Now- where can you buy wheat locally?
If you live near or visit Muddy Pond in the Monterrey area, you can have the lady who runs the Variety Store order it for you. Orders can take a while, depending on when she's expecting 'the truck' and what she needs to order. (A minimum is required on her part, so sometimes there's a bit of a wait.)
There's also a coop, Morningside Buying Club, that offers wheat, grains, and SO much more. (Especially if you like "natural" and organic products.)
They usually place orders once or twice a month, I think. There are several ways to get your order. You could drive to their farm, however, they have a local family who picks up all the orders, separates them and allows everyone to come by their home and pick up the orders. They live close to the library, the lady at Morningside would give you the details when you ordered.
(You can buy small quantities at Good Shepherd, but it's more economical to buy in bulk. I suggest buying it in a bucket the first time so you can re-use the bucket. Wheat must be stored air-tight so weevils don't get into it.)

I have on hand right now; hard white wheat, soft white wheat, spelt, kamut, rye, oat groats, and who knows what else. I recommend that you start with hard white wheat. (I would NOT start with hard red. It has some better nutritional properties (like a higher protein content) but it is a VERY heavy grain and difficult for newbies to get used to, in most cases, as it makes for very dense loaves. I have used it in the past, but my family balks at it so I've not continued to purchase it.)

Now- how do you turn wheat (wheat berries) into "flour"?
Grain Mills- here's a few:

My first mill was similar to this and lasted years- until it jumped from a high shelf and busted when it hit the floor. ...And it even ran for a while after that...before I saw a little tiny flame inside one day :)            But this kind works well, and it's the most frugal.

The one I use now is like this one. It is actually 2 separate pieces and was formerly known as a Whisper Mill. (Don't be fooled about the noise levels of mills; if you look on youtube, you can find videos testing the decibels and they are all very close.) One part of this is 'the mill' which grinds the grains into flour, the other part is a bucket that catches the flour once it has been ground.

This is another very popular mill. I've known several ladies who had them and loved them too. I might have picked this one when I bought my last mill, except it was considerably more expensive when I was buying and I bought a refurbished mill which cut my price even more. But I think this one would be a nice buy.

There are non-electric mills as well. You can also buy small mill attachments for Kitchen Aides, but I couldn't say for sure how good they work nor how fine your flour would be.

What do you get once you're ground the wheat (or other grains) into flour?
Well- you get a "plain" unleavened, whole-grain flour. Leaven would be something that would cause your flour/bread to rise, like baking soda, baking powder, or yeast.  You didn't add that when your ground your grains, therefore, it will not be there- unless YOU put it there ;-)

What can you do with your flour?
The same thing you can do with a plain flour! Yes- for real! Is there a difference in store-bought plain white flour and fresh ground wheat flour? Yes! It may need a tad more liquid, but don't sweat it, you'll get used to it and it's not that significant.
I suggest you start using it in the recipes that you already make. Do you make pancakes from plain white flour? Just substitute for wheat. Worried your family won't like this change? Start by using half white and half wheat. 
Now- if you are used to using self-rising- you will have to find a recipe that uses baking soda and/or baking powder. Your fresh flour won't rise without something to lift it! :)

Care of your flour and the BIGGEST difference:
MOST importantly- after your flour is ground, you need to use it right away, or freeze it. The oil in your wheat germ is now exposed to oxygen and it will begin to go rancid. 
Ever bought bagged wheat flour from the store? It's a little bitter. 
Fresh wheat flour is sweet. No bitter after taste- at all!

Want to make a yeasted loaf bread?
This is the EASIEST, almost fool-proof recipe that I've ever tried. You can skip the Dough Enhancer that this recipe calls for, it's not necessary. (It does give your bread a more 'store-bought' kind of texture, but I've made bread for years without that.) I make this bread weekly. It's my favorite 'go-to' dough when I'm in a hurry because it doesn't require a long rising period and it mixes up very well and quickly in my Kitchen Aid.

Don't have wheat yet? Start with white and learn to make your own bread. If you like it- then go for it! Wheat is so good- and good for you!
And remember my silly stories of my first few loaves! I was encouraged to keep making "bricks" for our "future house" :)
But now- ah- bread----
And YOU can do this too!
More questions?
Please write them below- or email me: laptopmail (at) twlakes (dot) net

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