How to Start Grinding Your Flour – It’s Healthy. It’s Easy. It’s Delicious.

I’ve been milling wheat into flour for over a decade.

Why?

Health. Life. Deliciousness.

I have 4 awesome children.  When I started grinding my own flour they were just tiny things.  Wait, when I started grinding flour I only had 3 of them.  And they were really tiny.

I am one of those mom’s who breastfeeds until they are walking and talking, I make baby food and I want my kids to eat vegetables.

I don’t try to control every bite that goes in my children’s mouths.  But I do want to make sure their bodies are getting what they need to grow into healthy, big people.

Ya’ know?

Grinding my own flour set me free.  I don’t stress.  I don’t worry about nutrition, calories, protein or vitamins.  I don’t have to force my children to eat turnip greens and sweet potatoes.  I just feed them bread.  Of course I serve them everything else that most of us moms want our kids to eat, but if they don’t clean their plate, I can rest in the knowledge that they are still consuming a healthy diet as long as they eat some bread.

Because I grind my own flour, if my children eat a slice of my bread (or pancakes, or a scone, or muffins) each day they are getting a pretty rockin’ diet.  Really.  If they never eat kale, a beet or a turnip, they’re gonna be OK.

“Of the 44 known essential nutrients needed by our bodies and naturally obtained from foods, only 4 are missing from wheat–vitamin A, B12, and C, and the mineral iodine.” – Sue Becker (Source)

When I learned about the amazing nutritional content of fresh milled wheat I was sold.  Then I tasted the bread made with fresh flour and I was amazed.  Not only was this bread a superfood in terms of health, it was the softest, best bread I had ever eaten.

Yes.  I’ll take a mill.

Whether you are just learning about the benefits of fresh flour or you’ve been considering it for years – I’m glad you’re here.  I think a grain mill is a wise purchase.  You are investing in your health and your future.  You will be able to make any baked good into a nutritional feast if you can grind your own whole wheat berries.

“Ok!  I want Fresh Flour!”

“Where do I Start?”

You really only need 2 things to start grinding flour today:

  1.  A mill
  2. Some wheat (whole berry)

Everything else you need to make bread can be found in most pantrys (or the nearest supermarket).

If you have 2 working hands – I bet you can knead.

Let’s talk details.  If I were you, here’s where I’d start:

#1 GET A MILL

The home grain mill is the appliance that will obliviate tiny hard wheat berries (also called kernels or grain) into fluffy warm flour.

You can use a hand crank model that uses elbow grease or you can get an electric one.  The electric models are more expensive but worth every penny.  They will do all the hard work for you AND will produce a finer, softer flour for your baking.  Finer flours make the lightest, fluffiest, softest breads.  When you use courser grains you can imagine the difference.  It is still super healthy, it will just be grainer and possibly denser.  I feel the expense of an electric mill is worth it.  You will love your baked goods and get all the nutrition you want.

To get fresh flour you are going to need a mill.  There are short cuts and bandaids and all sorts of wierd things folks do to grind up wheat berries.  They all fall apart somewhere.  These make-shift, substitute grinders either can’t sufficiently grind wheat into a nice, fine flour (which is needed for baking) or they can do it for a brief spell, but will die trying.  To read all about the unusual ways folks are grinding flour go here.

After all my research and discussion, I am more convinced than ever that a proper grain mill is the best tool for the job.  My favorite is the Nutrimill.  It is $219 right now on amazon.  It is made to grind hard grain and live for 20 years.  I know it’s an investment, but I think it’s well worth the money.

All about my favorite mill here.  Buy one just like it here.

#2  YOU GOTTA GET SOME WHEAT BERRIES

Wheat berries are the little kernels of goodness that you will be obliterating into fluffy flour to make all things ‘bread.’  I use fresh milled flour for just about everything I bake.  If a recipe calls for “flour” I usually reach for the fresh-milled stuff.

There are all sorts of grains available for sale.  I have managed to live through 12+ years of baking with 4 types of grain.

  1. Hard Red -Earthy, wheaty, nutty, great for yeast breads.
  2. Hard White – clean, light, great for yeast breads.
  3. Spelt or Kamut – These are “super” grains.  They are not mandatory for baking but are incredibly healthy.  They are packed with nutrition.  I usually toss a cup of a super grain into my breads, rolls and buns to get an added burst of vitamins & minerals.
  4. Soft White – Light, white flour, great for quick breads (biscuits, crackers, cakes, cookies).  Soft White wheat berries can not be used to make breads, buns or anything you want to rise with yeast.  It will be a dismal failure.  It will not rise properly.  It will fall, be flat, dense and lumpy.  If you want to bake yeast breads you must use “hard” wheat berries.

If you are just getting started, you can get by with 2:

  • Hard Wheat – Red or white is fine.  For the first-timer, white is what I would choose.  If you can’t find any white, red will do just fine.  White will just be more like what you are used to eating.
  • Soft Wheat – Soft wheat berries make the perfect flour for delicate baked goods.  Biscuits are a prime example of why God made soft wheat.  No other flour will cooperate in a biscuit.  Trust me, I’ve tried.

Where on earth does one buy whole wheat berries?

Walmart is the easiest answer.  No clubs.  No co-ops.  No minimum orders.  If you want all the gorey details about where and how and why I get my wheat berries from a semi at a truckstop in 50 pound bags go here.

If you just want to get some grain to mill… now… I’d try Walmart. I am beyond impressed with Walmart’s growing selection of organic & nonGMO foods. If you visit their website & search for wheat berries you should find several options. Hard white is my favorite for baking & yeast breads. Soft white is a pastry flour that works for quick breads. Soft white will not work for buns, breads or anything with yeast.

Some walmarts even stock whole wheat berries right on the shelf in the store.  Other Walmarts don’t carry whole grain in the store buy you can still get some;  just scoot over to Walmart’s website you can order whatever you want and pick it up at your local store for free.

If you get your wheat berries from Walmart you can get a much smaller quantity (instead of 100 pounds like me). Even for a small household, you may be surprised how quickly you’ll go through the wheat. Wheat can keep in cool, dry storage (like a basement) for years, so it is OK to get a large quantity & use them over a year or two.

Other Things You’ll Need-

In addition to mill & the berries, you are going to need to have some other staples on hand in order to make fresh baked goods.

These are super easy to pick up:

  • Honey – I usually sweeten my breads and rolls with honey.  Local is the best, as it will help with allergens from your area.  Farmers markets and roadside stands are usually great places to find raw honey.
  • Oil – Some breads can be made with butter, but others need oil.  Butter can be heavy and uncooperative when you want light breads to rise.  Olive oil makes horrible bread (I think).  For yeast breads you will want a light oil.  Most of the time I use grapeseed oil and have used sunflower oil with success.
  • Pans- You’re going to need some loaf pans- and 10 inches is the perfect size.  If the pans are bigger than 10 inches you risk falling loaves and holes in your bread.  If you are new to making bread, let me tell you, loaves that collapse and giant holes in your bread are your enemy.  You want huge rises, and light loaves.  10 inch pans will help you to be successful.  Any 10 inch pans will do.
    • I use Norpro pans and am really happy with them.  I have 12 of the 10 inch pans.
    • Why 12 pans?  I have a family of 6 and when I bake bread…… I bake bread.  A lot of it.  My favorite loaf recipe makes 6 loaves (yes, 6 loaves can be baked in a standard oven at once).  With 12 loaf pans I can have 6 loaves in the oven and 6 loaves rising at the same time.  This allows me to bake 24 loaves of bread in a couple of hours.

#3 A MIXER IS HANDY

I use my mixer just as often as I use my mill, if now more (it makes butter and cakes for me).

If you have one – it will do the kneading and mixing for you.  Yes please.  This may not seem like a big deal, but when you make 24 loaves of bread in a day – the mixer is a life saver.  The one I have can handle enough dough for 10 loaves of bread at once.

No, your KitchenAid can not do this.  Additionally, the Bosch (what I have) is basically a power tool – not a kitchen appliance.  If you happen to get your finger in the wrong place at the wrong time, I’m pretty sure you may be less one finger – and your Bosh would keep chugging.  It’s pretty much unstoppable.  Other “mixers” were not built to make 24 loaves of bread in a morning.  They were made to make cookies and cakes.

I have a boombastic monster of a mixer.  Buy one here.  It is a Bosch and it could blend your hand off of your arm.  It is a beast and can make over 10 loaves of bread at a time (knead the dough for 10 loaves, that is).  I love it and use it constantly.

Do you need a boombastic mixer?

No.

A big ‘O mixer is handy……

Handy, but not necessary.  You can knead your bread products by hand, people have been doing it for thousands of years.  I’ll tell you a secret… Although you can knead by hand, if you use an electric mixer you’ll always end up with a softer, lighter bread.  Why?  Because your mixer doesn’t care how sticky the dough is while it kneads.  Stickier dough makes lighter loaves.

If you have a (professional series) Kitchenaid mixer and a dough hook you can use it to knead your bread dough for you.  Just cut my bread recipe in half – the KitchenAid can’t handle as much dough.

#4  START BAKING!  Yay!  Fun!

Experience is the mother of all teachers.  The best way to get your hands dirty & learn how to make your own bread products is to get in the kitchen and bake.  Its fun.  It’s rewarding.  It’s delicious.  It’s healthy.

Here’s some of my favorite recipes to get you started:

Fresh flour has filled our lives with so much goodness.  It has given us health.  It has given me traditions to pass down to my children.  It has given us meals, celebrations, and so many memorable family dinners.

Here’s some more information on fresh milled flour that may be helpful:

How to Grind Flour on the Cheap
Bread Making Supply List – What You Need, Where to Buy, What it Costs
Electric Grain Mill – An Introduction
You Should Grind Your Own Flour – 4 HUGE Reason

Congratulations to all of you getting started in the world of fresh flour.  I know you are going to have fun and improve your diet.  I can’t imagine my kitchen without a grain mill.

Be sure to join the blog if you haven’t already….  You’ll get all the latest, real-food recipes, all the homesteading updates & the funny stuff too.  By email (here).

XO,

Candi

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