Posted by: hammock gal on May 27th, 2011 at 1:19 pm
First, let me say this was actually a hard post for me to write. I know, I know, how hard can it be to write about grinding wheat. It is. For me at least, because I want to explain the why, which is harder than it seems. So, please bear with me, I tried to keep my thoughts semi-coherent, but knowing myself, they are scattered in no apparent order. If there is something more that you would like to know, please ask and I will do my best to answer.
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to grind there own wheat. For my family, one of our reasons was very simple, we wanted to use (and store) nutritional foods that would keep even if their were no power. Why? That is also simple, we live in hurricane country. Okay, that really doesn’t exist, but ask any Floridian who has lived through an actual hurricane, or two, or three, or more, Florida is hurricane country. There are other reasons, but that is not what this is about.
When you purchase already ground flour, unless you watch them milling it, bagging it up and carrying it home, you really have no idea of when it was milled, nor how long it has actually sat either in a warehouse or on the store shelves. And don’t forget, if you are buying whole wheat flour then you have to either store it in the refrigerator or the freezer because it will go rancid.
When I tell people that, their first question is always, why? Their white flour sits on the shelves just fine, so why not whole wheat. Well, it has to do with the milling process. White flour (bleached or unbleached) in the milling process has the germ and the bran taken out of the flour. These things, once ground, will go rancid quicker, just like most nuts, because of the natural oils within. Why do you want them in the first place? They are good for you. Don’t believe me, have you heard doctors say, you need more fiber, you need more bran, you need wheat germ. Obviously if you have health issues, then do what you are supposed to, but for those that have no problems with wheat or gluten, your best bet is whole wheat to start with.
I won’t go into why they are good for you, there are many sources online, your doctor, at the library and more. It really is fascinating once you learn more about it.
When you grind your own wheat, you know exactly what is in the flour. There are no additives, no preservatives and if you purchase certified chemical free or organic, then you know, no chemicals are in it either. You also know that it is going to be full of flavor, not stale tasting and that all nutrients are in there, not just some that are added back.
Let’s get back to storage though. White flour, because of all the nutritional stuff that has been taken out, stores longer than whole wheat flour. We’ve already said that. Did you know though that even white flour cannot be stored as long as a wheat berry? What is that? That happens to be the wheat grain or wheat kernel. It is made, naturally, to be stored, and used with all nutrients intact. If stored properly, wheat berries can be used with full nutrients, even after 20 years! (You can even grow your own wheat sprouts from it, as well as grow your own wheat from it! You cannot do that with purchased flour, no matter how hard you try.)
This post isn’t about food storage, suffice it to say, you should have some stored.
We are told by Wheat Foods Council that nutritionally there is no difference between grinding your own and purchasing whole wheat flour. I honestly do not know. I just look at it this way, why pay for something that I can easily and quickly do much cheaper and I don’t have to worry about it going bad. Honestly, they may say that the two are nutritionally equal, I just cannot imagine something that has been ground and sat around not losing some nutrients. That is just laws of nature. Not here to debate that though.
Let’s just face it though, there is something primal about being able to take a grain, grind it, mix it, bake it and give something nutritious and wholesome to your family. I also have to say, that it just tastes so darn good!
You can also grind other grains into flour, we actually mix it up sometimes, using barley, oats, millet, flaxseed and more. You can even grind rice and popping corn!
There are different grinders to be found: hand, electric and combination of both. Depending on what you are grinding as well as your hand & arm strength, will decide which type of grinder you need for yourself. For our family we actually have both an electric grinder (see “What I Use!” at the bottom of sidebar) and a hand grinder, for when power is out. I think you can figure out on your own which one I prefer to use. ;o)
There is so much more that could be said, yet, it all boils down to one thing, you have to do what is best for your family and yourself.