You can mill flour. At home. In your blender.
For years I’ve known that buying flour pre-ground in the store as opposed to making your own, is like eating frozen TV dinners instead of having your grandmother cook you up a delicious Salisbury steak. Okay, strange example, but you get the picture. Moving on.
Why mill you own flour anyway?
I think that the number one reason you should grind your own grain flours is for the health benefits. All commercially made grain flours have had the germ removed. This is the part of the grain that contains the majority of the nutrition, since it is the part that allows the seed to germinate. Without the healthy oils, vitamins and minerals that make up the germ, the (dead) flour can happily sit on the shelf for months or even years and still be edible.
In addition, when flour is milled, the bran or “shell” of the grain is broken, leaving the insides exposed, causing the loss of vital nutrients and oxidization of fats. Ever noticed how right after you peel and apple, it starts to turn brown? The delicate, vulnerable interior of a grain goes through the same degradation process and almost as quickly.
Whole Wheat in fact, loses 45% of it’s nutrients within the first 24 hours after it has been milled, and by the time 72 hours has passed it has lost a whopping 90%! That is 90% of the original nutritional value of a very wholesome grain that does not make it in to your body. Is it any wonder we have to take nutritional supplements?
Milling your own flour ensures that you preserve the grains’ vital nutrients for your consumption since you will use it immediately.
The second reason is flavour. The taste of the flour I made myself actually tastes like something. Even the “good flour” I used to buy at health food stores, never tasted this good, and often they were dry and sometimes tasted bitter (this indicated rancidity!) With home milled flour my bread is moister and has a wonderful fresh and nutty taste that comes from the inclusion of the germ.
Finally, grinding your own flours can give you access to flours that you might not be able to get otherwise. For example, spelt flour or kamut flour can be hard to find in a regular supermarket. However, finding the whole grain is often easier as whole grains keep a very long time and so are easier for stores to carry. Also, these specialty flours are cheaper when ground at home. A pound of spelt grain is much cheaper than a pound of spelt flour assuming you can find it. Also, you have control over how much you have on hand, how fine or course it is ground, etc. For those that are gluten-sensitive or intolerant, you can even make high-protein flours from beans and lentils. I baked a loaf of bread from all the grains in the photograph at the top of this post. It’s a meal in itself, I guarantee!
How to become a Genuine Miller
Most people don’t believe that they can grind flour in their home blender (isn’t it only good for making milkshakes?), but it’s true – even a very cheap one, like mine, can get the job done. All you have to do is add enough grain so that it doesn’t just fly around inside the container. If you add at least 2 cups of grain, the weight of it will keep the kernels down around the blades.
1. Place at least 2 cups of the grain (or legume) of your choice (wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, quinoa, rice, millet, lentil, chick pea…) in a blender.
2. Turn the blender on high and watch the show. The grain will continue to ground finer and finer, and it will rise up the sides of the blender. You will know that is finished grinding when the flour stops falling into the center of the centrifuge.
3. Remove flour from blender and sift according to your preferences. I used a rather large-holed sieve because I like eating grainy bread, but I recognize not everyone shares my love of sand-textured baked goods. If you like a lighter flour, use a fine-mesh sieve. You can see the grit that comes out of the flour in the photograph. I actually saved these and sprinkled them on top of the bread I baked, but the birds love that stuff too, if you don’t.
That’s it. I wish it were more complicated and impressive, but now you really have no excuses to keep buying dead, nutritionally void store-bought flour.
Stayed tuned for the next post when I will walk you through baking a loaf of bread, step-by-step, made with flour that you milled all by yourself. Even your blender will be flabbergasted.