The Fresh Loaf

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Ugh - what wheat berries should I order to mill into flour?!

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Theresse's picture
Theresse

Ugh - what wheat berries should I order to mill into flour?!

Man I'm sorry - I've been so dependent on this forum lately! : - /

I'm unsure about what to do.  For weeks I've been meaning to put in my first order from Azure Standard who will deliver wheat berries and pails, lids etc. (along with any other natural/organic foods) to a co-op drop off location a mile from my house.  So it's great that I won't have to pay for shipping!  But I keep putting it off cause I'm not sure what to order!

I got t Nutrimill grain mill from a Craigslist ad though I'm new to bread-making (also got one of those lovely Ankarsrum mixers cause I figured I'd be more likely to make lots of bread if it's made as easy as possible and so far that has indeed been the case with this mixer - albeit using store-bought flour so far).  I want to start making all homemade breads for my family (3 kids and husband) on a regular basis and hopefully stop buying bread at the store.  That would include whole grain sandwich bread and the occasional nicer rustic loaf (hard white berries I guess) to go with dinner.  I don't make pastries as often though I do expect to make them occasionally - things like cinnamon rolls or the rare pie crust.  So that's yet a third grain it sounds like (or since it's not healthy anyway, should I just buy the flour in a bag?).

Lastly, I want to cut down on wheat consumption for the adults in the family anyway - not totally cut it out though.  While I haven't jumped on the "Wheat Belly train" (not big on fads - especially ones that are extreme and tell you one thing is all good or all bad) I do think it's possible there's a legitimate link between modern wheat and stomach bloating, low energy and possibly also inflammation i.e. may not help arthritis sufferers (not sure about any of this...but my ears are pricked up at least).  I'm very intrigued by all the good things I'm reading about the use of the the "ancient grains" combined with homemade yeast/sourdough starters and allowing the dough some time to ferment.  So that's yet another quandary - do I also order some einkorn and a pail and lid for it, too?  Hahaha.  Or perhaps I should get a smaller amount to try first.  Have any of you had luck with bread using this grain?  I've read it doesn't rise quite as well which may or may not be a deal-breaker (and there may be a trick to getting it to rise better, I don't know).

So clearly I need hard red wheat berries (not sure how much), hard white berries... what about soft white berries?  What do most of you have/recommend for keeping on hand in those larger pails, at the very least?  What have you grown into also keeping on hand?

As always, thank you!

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

milled at home take some getting used to, from a baking standpoint at least.  The same may be true of the eating, depending on your expectations.  It takes a little practice to establish hydration levels and timing to produce consistent results.  It's not all that hard, but it does take some practice.  I suggest you start small, get a little experience, and then decide your strategy for going forward from that base.  Most of the kinds of baking you say you are interested in could involve as much or more sifting as they do milling in order to produce the results you might expect, and that gets technical very quickly if you try to take it very far, although there are some simpler approaches that still provide good results.  Depending, of course, on your expectations.

I suggest small orders of 5 to 10 pounds of both Hard Red Wheat and Hard White Wheat berries, to start with.  Mill some of both and bake side by side breads, and go from there.  Unless you sift out and remove bran from your mill yield you will get the same weight in flour that you started with in wheat berries, so these small quantities will provide a fair number of loaves to experiment with, and should give you some direction for your next steps.

Best of Luck

OldWoodenSpoon

Theresse's picture
Theresse

Thank you OldWoodenSpoon!  Per your advice I ordered 5-lb bags of wheat (hard red, hard white, soft and that "ancient" kind as well).  I ordered three 5-lb bags of red and hard white, then two 5-lb bags of soft white and the ancient stuff - einkorn?  I also decided to buy (though might regret such small sizes later on) four 2-gallon pails with the gamma seal lids, in case I don't go through all this wheat as quickly as more serious bread enthusiasts would.  I also got the oxygen absorbers and food grade silica gel packets (correct size per 2-gallon container) for ease of mind.  I hate to put them in the basement which isn't the dryest of all basements but if I can't find enough room in my mud room (no room in kitchen), I'll have to keep at least some of those pails in the basement, hence the silica gel packets.

I was concerned when I read your comment about milling taking time to get used to.  I hope it's not that big a deal!  I got a NutriMill which mills to different degrees of fineness which should be helpful - and allows one to put the wheat in before or during (machine won't shut down or get clogged etc).  When I've seen the videos online it doesn't seem like a big deal (knock on wood) and when I bought it from the woman from Cragslist she showed me how to do it.  I hope it'll be relatively easy breezy!  As for hydration/consistency, I *hope* that won't prove to be much of an issue either as I'm just baking for my family and not the public.  Just hoping to get a basic rise out of the dough and for the final product to consistently resemble bread, haha.  All this talk about hydration and percentages makes me nervous in fact.  I know the Ankarsrum mixer will be able to handle higher hydration recipes if I have them, so that's good...but I don't know what all this means.  I have The Bread Bible book and the Ken Forkish book (local artisan baker actually), Flour Water Salt Yeast, so I'm sure one of those will explain all that once I bother to read more than a few pages! ;)  But for now I intend to follow others' recipes so that's why I'm hoping this whole bit about hydration and %'s won't be an issue for me (?)!  I have 3 batches of homemade yeast going in the kitchen, hoping one of them will turn out - hahaha.  Too many varying instructions online to give me confidence.  I figure there's a chance one of them will turn out.  For now, it's about day 4 I think and each small batch looks about the same as each other and has a slightly fruity-sour taste but nothing I would consider very yeasty tasting so far.  I don't know how I'll know when it's time to put it in the fridge.  It's all sort of a half-hearted experiment/adventure that I started one night in the middle of the night figuring "what the hell."  Wish me luck!!!  I know I can make pancakes and waffles it if doesn't turn out like it should.  So far no signs of it going bad or molding etc.

Re. sifting, should I buy one of those gold panning looking flour sifters that's a bit flat circle as opposed to a traditional flour sifter like a cup?  I don't think I'd mind the bran but I probably don't understand enough about it to be able to say just yet.

OMG... I don't think my cat wants me to learn about bread-baking.  He's sitting on my chest and slowly sinking his claws into my skin as I type...barely making it possible to type/read!!  Off topic I realize...

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

Good for you!  That is enough grain to keep you busy for a while, and it will allow you to learn a lot.  The pails are a good idea too.  When you start buying in larger quantities you will need bigger pails, but you can use these for your "working stock" and use bigger ones to store the balances.  The gamma seals should keep your grain safe, even in the damp basement, but I'd put the buckets up off the floor, regardless.  That's just me though.

Don't get too concerned about the "differences" in home milled flour, or go off on sifting either, at the beginning.  Just realize that home milled or otherwise, whole grain flour does not always produce a light, fluffy loaf of bread.  There are techniques you can use to move in that direction, so there is hope.  Just expect the first few loaves to be a little more (or even a lot more) dense than what you get with sifted flours.  Just let your experience guide you.  You should look at your local library to see if they have any useful cookbooks to pull recipes from.  Reinhart's "Whole Grain Bread" comes to mind since my local library has it and I get it out to the house on the Bookmobile (I live a good drive out of town). 

Wherever you get them, find two or three good whole grain  recipes and bake with those a few times with each of your grains, using a variety of settings on your mill.  That will help you to start getting a feel for how things turn out, while you can count on growing familiarity with the recipe to steady you on the process.  That way you can focus on the flour differences and how they translate to the bread differences, without worrying about whether process differences came into play or not.

You're jumping into a good sized pool, so just take it slow.  Try to avoid changing everything every time you bake. :)  Take notes as you go on what you did and how you did it and in a very short time you will start getting a feel for how things turn out.  Then you will start wondering, "How do I change this aspect of my bread."  and you will be on you way.

Best of luck to you, and keep us informed on how it goes.  There are a lot of good bakers here with lot's of experience in home milling, some real experts on sifting, and plenty of baking expertise.  You'll get the help you need, as I'm sure you already know.

By the way:  I know from personal experience that cats don't want you to do anything at all that interferes with you paying attention to them whenever they feel you should.  Baking?  "Meow-bah-humbug.  Get over here and scratch my ears."

OldWoodenSpoon

Theresse's picture
Theresse

Thanks very much!  I'll try to remember to be so thoughtful in my experimenting and take notes, etc.  I actually like really dense bread although I know if I were a true bread aficionado I would probably prefer light and fluffy based on the majority of the comments I've read on this forum.  I think a denser bread if fine when it's a sandwich bread.  But regardless I should aim for light and fluffy just because it sounds like something to strive for and something I may prefer more over time as I "perfect" my skills.  If I don't like something as well in the beginning but all the experienced people do, I often do later!  Maybe cause I'm a follower or maybe cause my tastes evolve over time, I don't know.

What kind of sifter do most of you have, regardless?

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

you should look at this Hamelman 5-Grain Levain  loaf as a possible starting point.  I started baking this bread as presented in the original post, but it has evolved now into a 9-grain "kitchen sink" seeded, multi-grain sourdough loaf that is one of our family favorites.  It can be made as either a sourdough (levain) or as a yeast bread with your preferred commercial yeast.  Both versions are in Jeff Hamelman's book Bread.  They are a little different in taste, but in my opinion at least, they are also both delicious.  My neighbor calls this my "meal in a slice" bread because of all the seeds and grains in it.Just an idea to help you get started. :)

I do mill my own whole wheat flour, but I don't sift it.  I use it as straight whole grain flour.  I don't like the bitter taste of the red wheat so I use the hard white wheat exclusively for my milling.  If I were going to start sifting I would buy those round specifically sized sieves that you mentioned.  They are available from a number of suppliers and you can find references to them by searching right here on TFL.

Best of Luck
OldWoodenSpoon

Theresse's picture
Theresse

Oh my goodness that bread looks GOOD.  Thanks for that link!  I may have to look into that book.  I've never heard of soaking seeds (I'm sure the rest of you have) so I need to find some reference that informs me of what types of seeds/grains one should soak and what type aren't necessary for soaking.  Note to self: cold soak, it sounds like!  I recently made a whole wheat bread using all kinds of stuff that I didn't soak.  I kinda went nuts, making it up and throwing in this and that.  In addition to the whole wheat, I think I put in oat bran, buckwheat, oatmeal, golden flax, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds (?), chia seeds...possibly quinoa...I just went nuts.  It all turned out well though, oddly enough!  So I'm curious how improved it might have been from soaking!  I used oil and/or an egg for extra moisture so I also wonder if that was its own kind of soak?

I think in another loaf I used molasses but I'm not sure I loved that.  What do you think about adding that to whole wheat bread?  

You mentioned red wheat berries being bitter.  I kind of noticed that but thought whatever I was tasting was either the packaged yeast or the molasses.  If it was the wheat (though it wasn't freshly milled, if that makes a difference), what would you add to balance out the bitterness?  Some add honey but I read that if you add a dark honey to bread and bake it, it can become toxic.  Not sure if that's true or not (you never know, when it's found on the internet)!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I'd go with a 5-or-6 lb bucket of white spring wheat to start with.  That will give you time to learn about baking with home-ground flour, without possibly alarming your family.  You can buy a 25-lb bag of whole white spring wheat at WalMart, from Wheat Montana, quite cheaply compared to most places.  That is enough to fill a 5-lb bucket most of the way to the top.  Wheat berries keep next to forever, so you will have plenty of time to experiment.  Where to get the buckets is another issue.  I bought mine from a place online who sells them in quantity, but I already knew I wanted a dozen.  Be sure to get the screw-on lid.  The kind that you have to keep prying up is a nuisance.

Theresse's picture
Theresse

Haha - alarming my family?!  They don't get alarmed that easily! ;)  I decided to go smaller this time, but if I make this a regular thing, I'll start buying 25-lb bags.  Not sure if you meant 5 or 6-lb bag or if you meant 5 or 6-gallon pails, but I don't think there are 5 or 6-lb amounts of wheat sold in buckets (?).  I could be wrong though.  I won't do WalMart for political reasons (don't get me started!) but I did find a local provider - Azure Standard - who delivers co-op style to my neighborhood as well as the neighborhood my husband works in across town - twice per month which is great (which becomes once per week when you add the second location).  Their prices for wheat (if not other organic items which don't seem all that inexpensive) seem competitive.  My order will arrive early next week.  I did buy the food grade pails with the gamma seal lids but got only 2-gallon pails instead of the 5 or 6 gallon ones.  I just wasn't sure how serious I'll be about bread-making/milling so wanted to start small.  If I start buying larger amounts I can always find other uses for the smaller pails I'm sure - or just break up larger amounts of grain into smaller pails so I'm not opening the larger pail as often or some reasoning like that!  Thank you!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Who can tell what someone else's family will become alarmed about?  Ha-ha.  My husband is tolerant of almost anything I cook.  Some people's families won't touch brown bread, even if it has nothing unusual in it but caramel coloring. 

I meant 5- or 6-gallon buckets, as I said.  We opted for 5-gallon buckets because the 6-gallon size just seemed like too much weight for seniors to be heaving around.  It has been a struggle for us to dump 50-lb bags into two buckets on the rare occasion when I ordered something in that size.  And yes, gamma seal lid was the term I could not remember.  The lids were not easy for us to put onto the buckets, but they are great to use once we got them on.

Azure Standard is far from local for me, and delivery here in the Midwest is very undependable according to the local delivery coordinator.  Basically we are the last drop-off on that particular route and if there is no room on the truck for your stuff, they just don't bring it.  They don't bother to tell you that until you show up to pick it up.  That is above and beyond the rude person I spoke to at their home office when I was attempting to set up an account.  However, for the price on the wheat berries I would have tolerated the rudeness.  The real problem for us was with the undependable supply.

Wheat berries can be cooked like rice, although they take longer to cook and really benefit from soaking overnight.  They can also be cracked and cooked for breakfast cereal.  Just in case you don't like milling flour, that is.  And even if you do, for that matter.

Theresse's picture
Theresse

Oh I see now what you meant by alarmed! :)  My kids (and husband) love whole wheat grainy seedy bread actually.  I guess that is lucky, now that I think about it.  I've heard of some kids only being willing to eat white!  My kids have never known anything besides whole grain.  Part of the reason I got into this bread making thing is because I was paying an arm and a leg for Dave's Killer Bread which is AMAZING seedy moist dense whole grain bread...so delicious and the whole family loves it.  I thought I could find imitation recipes online (so far I've found only a couple) and then wouldn't have to pay so much per loaf anymore.  I'm sure it won't save all that much considering how much all these fabulous seeds and "side grains" cost but I also just wanted my kids to feel or more honestly, remember, their mom as having been one who made homemade bread for them.  I thought it might make up for my other shortcomings as a mom, of which I have PLENTY! ;)

Oh lord I think 50-lb bags would be a struggle for anyone, regardless of age!  Ouch!

Are you saying it was Azure Standard who treated you so badly?  Not good!  I've only heard good things about them and the people I've spoken to on the phone have been extremely helpful.  Perhaps they had enough complaints to have decided it was worth it to improve their service, since then (?)!  I wouldn't stick with a company that was that undependable either.

I'm glad you reminded me about the other uses of wheat berries!  If you turn my mixer on its side and add attachments, you can flatten wheat berries, rice, oats, etc. to make different kinds of cereals.  I think they call that accessory the "flaker."  I'm not sure I'm willing to pay what it costs for that accessory though - something crazy like $160.00!  Over time though I find myself buying more and more whole foods though...and I think I have a memory of a CNN story coming out a couple of years ago in which they said there are carcinogens in any cereal that's toasted a certain way which is the majority or some scary thing like that.  So I like the idea of homemade cereal.  I view wheat as something no to overdo, so if I were to cook the wheat berries, I'd more likely want to use that einkorn wheat since it's supposedly markedly healthier than the modern wheat.  Arthritis runs in our family badly and if it's true that there's a connection to auto-immune disorders and modern wheat (or any wheat - not sure which), that gives me a lot to think about.  It seems too challenging to remove bread out of the diet completely with 3 kids...but if I'm going to give them bread then I love the idea of making it as healthy as possible!

Geez... sorry I'm writing so much!!!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Yes, that was Azure Standard, back in 2011.  They had just changed computers and had set up a Facebook account, and I gather they were very busy at that time.  I think it is probably better not to buy from a co-op based 1,500 miles away, even if their local customers think they are great.

I buy barley from Great River Organic Milling, in Wisconsin.  They are located much closer to me.  I can get hard red spring wheat from them also.  Oat groats I buy from Honeyville Grains.  I can get hard red wheat from Honeyville also but in order to beat the price of Great River I have to buy a 50-lb bag.  Buying Wheat Montana's wheat berries from Wal-Mart costs me half the price per pound compared to everyone else, which is why I do that.  I used to be able to get both red and white wheat berries from Wal-Mart but they stopped selling the red ones so I will have to either buy those elsewhere or give them up.

I don't store any grain flours in my house.  I only store whole grain, in my 5-gallon buckets and also in some #10 cans with plastic lids that came from Honeyville Grains back when I was trying out the whole idea of milling my own flour.

You won't save any money by milling your own flour and baking your own bread, but you will know exactly what is in your bread when you have finished baking it.  You will have a semi-permanent supply of flour that never goes bad, providing you keep the moisture and vermin away from the grains (and of course, if your mill doesn't break).  And, as you have commented, you will have the memories of having baked for your family.  We never ate much bread in this house until I started milling my own flours and baking my own bread.  Now it is a staple, although we do not eat as much as I did when I was growing up.  When I was growing up we had Wonder Bread with every meal.  Wonder Bread with margarine, no less.  We don't eat margarine in this house, either.

You can also make bean flours with your mill, if the whole beans fit into it.  I put my beans through the mill three times, on increasingly finer settings until I have a fine flour.  I use white bean flour for making water roux to put in my bread.  I use a flour made from a mixture of peas and lentils, to thicken stews and soups.  You can use bean flour to thicken anything that calls for wheat flour, providing you don't mind the slight flavor of beans in your final result.  There is no gluten in beans, though, so you cannot make bread from just them.  Because it takes three passes through the mill to get fine white bean flour, I do store some of the white bean flour in a glass Mason jar.  The pea/lentil flour only takes the one pass so I make it fresh every time I need it.

I'm writing a lot too, it seems.

Crider's picture
Crider

I have a bunch of buckets from them, 7.5 gallon I believe. 50 lb. sacks are too big, so I buy 25 lb. sacks. I have both the hard red winter wheat for bread, and the soft white for biscuits, pie crust, etc. which you don't seem t want. I've never had their hard white. I think it's one or the other for bread.

I've never tried einkhorn, but I order all sorts of things from them. Why not get 5 lbs of rye while you're at it? And then 5 lbs of split peas is so cheap, chickpeas, pinto beans? I got a 25 lb. bag of whole corn from them last time I ordered for making tortillas and pozole and regular cornbread. Oh, look . . . whole sesame seed is pretty cheap. I need to do a $50 order to qualify for free delivery, so I try to gang things together.

I have heritage grains, but I've gotten them all from local growers, so that's a different story.

Theresse's picture
Theresse

Thanks Crider and sorry it took so long to get back to you (it took me a while to work my way through the first few responses)!

Yes 50 lbs seems crazy heavy!  It's not that I don't want biscuits, pie crust etc - I just wasn't sure I'd make them often enough to warrant getting the soft white berries.  That said, I ordered them anyway!  I know the time will come often enough that I'm making dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, pie crust, cakes etc, and that I don't have to run off to the store or take up cupboard space with a sack of old pastry flour but rather can just mill some up quickly, sounds great. :)  If I'm understanding correctly re. the hard white berries, that's more for the artisan breads like french bread, sourdough, and other more rustic breads.  That's why I got that, too.  I haven't made any yet - though did have great luck making a "fake" one!  I used a whole wheat sandwich bread recipe and a round banneton basket that had flour in it and I slashed lines across the top of the dough before putting it in the oven, then put a glass of iced water in the oven.  It came out brown with a crispy crust and very pretty to look at (and tasted good).  I'm looking forward to using the hard white berries' flour though, and the homemade yeast, to see if I can do something more authentic!

Re. Azure Standard, their wheat berries are priced well but some of their other items seem pretty expensive.  I don't make things with corn often enough to bother buying whole corn but on the other hand, maybe it's something to think about!  No reason I couldn't start using it more.

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

I buy 25kg sacks of grain because it is way way cheaper in this quantity.   I buy Wheat, Spelt and Rye as well as organic oat groats (because my grain mill can also flake/roll oats to make great porridge oats etc).  As soon as the sacks are delivered I transfer the grains into smaller decent thickness vacuum bags and vacuum seal.  Sometimes I throw in one or two of those small oxygen absorbing sachets you can buy if I want to keep the grains a long time.  Much depends on how often you will bake bread.  My original reason for buying a grain mill was as a vital element of a long term food storage strategy for if/when the SHTF.  I hope this won't happen but there is great peace and comfort in maintaining and cycling a 6 mth or more supply of foods.  Grains will literally last years if they are kept dry and well sealed.  We can make our own yeast (starter) by combining flour and water so by storing grains long term in bulk quantity you have the ablity at least to make bread for you and your family for a very long time.  As I said, it's just one element of a sensible long term food strategy.

Packing in small vacuum quantities (of say 2-4kg each) allows you to take out a little at a time without unpacking/disturbing the rest.  I simply empty a bag into a couple of mason jars at a time.

I don't like shipping grains across the country, just seems wrong somehow so my advice is to search for a local windmill or water mill miller.  They have massive amounts of grains and will probably be happy to sell you a sack or two.  They will very much know that their grains are great for bread having tried a few different types before.

Lastly, be sure to store any grains in their vacuum bags in tough plastic boxes or buckets otherwise you'll have a rodent community moving in to what they see as the Hilton !   :-)

GL

Theresse's picture
Theresse

ElPanadero, hopefully I'll do this frequently enough (get in the habit) that I'll decide to buy larger quantities too and get that savings.

I have the Nutrimill grain mill (so don't in theory need a wind or water mill) and I don't think it will "flake" - turn things into cereal or flatten them like that.  On their site it says: "Also note that when set for coarser "meal" texture, the Nutrimill's output remains too fine for making "cereal grinds."  It will take all kinds of grains and beans, oat groats and corn etc - just not flatten them into a flake.  But as I was saying earlier to someone else, if I turn my mixer on its side and pay more to get one of their accessory attachments called the "flaker" (I think it's called that), I could do that with oat groats.  Not sure I want to pay the money to do that though as it's super expensive - especially when considering the mixer cost $700!

I don't have a vacuum sealer and am *hoping* the foodgrade plastic pails and gamma seal lids (along with oxygen and moisture absorbers) will work almost as well as the bags.  I figure I have a decent shot since I only ordered the 2-gallon pails (or so I'm telling myself)!

That's funny you mention the S hitting the F.  As a school auction classroom project I - and other parents - put together an emergency earthquake backpack since our area is due for a seriously nasty, catastrophic earthquake, the geologists think.  Apparently the BIG (extra big, BIG) one happens here every 400 years or so and it's been 400 years!  Because we're in the NW, there isn't a lot of documentation on these earthquakes yet by white americans, though there are native american stories and now lots of geological evidence of this (and also old japanese scrolls which tell of major tsunamis hitting japan from NW U.S. subduction earthquakes).  So my long-winded point is that when I was researching what to put in this backpack for a family to bid on, I was lead to "survival" type forums where there were ALL KINDS of interesting characters!  That's where I learned what the "SHTF" meant, lol!  That kind of thinking can become contagious and I have to admit I got kind of sucked into the whole preparedness thing a little bit...but not so much that I would store lots of food.  Not judging those who do but I'm just not capable of being that organized nor of spending that much money only for it to go bad in x amount of months (or of having to eat it before that).  I'd fail big time if I had to do all that it takes and get graded on it!  But, all that said, I was inspired enough to take certain measures and become, essentially, a closet survivalist! ;)  Especially after watching a documentary about the evidence of past earthquakes and likelihood of an impending one.  So, I made not one but 2 backpacks for my own immediate family.  One for the trunk of the car and one to keep in the house.  I'd already researched what would be most useful and life-saving in an emergency (flashlights and batteries, water, purifier tabs, dust masks and work gloves, 1st aid, mylar thermal sleeping bags and tube tents, 5-year emergency bars, small portable cooking "stove" and fire starter, emergency hand crank radio, wrench to turn off the gas, to name only some of the things on the list!) and simply ordered extra for our fam when I ordered the original items for the classroom auction item.  I'd keep both backpacks in the trunk but a) fear of it being stolen and b) what if something happens when one or more of the family's off in the car and one or more of the family's at home and doesn't have anything?  I could put it all in a box at home since a backpack's not needed but then I read about the whole "bugout bag" thing.  Something handy to grab on the run in case someone else has the car with that backpack in it?  I don't know - never fully thought that part through, even with all my research!  So I keep that home one in my downstairs hallway near the front door.  HOPEFULLY will never have to use any of it due to a real crisis!!  What is handy though is that I keep our home 1st aid kit in that bag along with other things that are occasionally needed.  So it's a multi-purpose bag as long as I remember to replenish it if we use too much of anything.  E.g. when we go camping we always take out the 1st aid bag and headlamps from that bag, then empty batteries and put it all back in there when we get back.  I even have a note in my camping equipment bins reminding me to do so.  Haha I REALLY know how to go off topic on this bread forum don't I?!!  Anyway that auction item was a huge hit.  We made a lot of money off it (and included only good-quality, well thought out items in it) and laughed about how many other closet "survivalists" there clearly are, even in our neck of the woods which is very urban and generally not paranoid.  Since around that time, the whole city's really cracking down and preparing for said earthquake.  Earthquake renovations, school drills which we never had in the past (for earthquakes), etc.

This Azure Standard farm/organic foods distributor/co-op is located in my state and has a decent reputation and delivers the grains to my neighborhood a couple of times per month so that's where I put my order in.  A friend told me about a great water grain mill about a 40 minute drive from our house and I thought I'd pay them a visit just cause the area's so beautiful, it's an old, historic mill and I think my kids would love to see it.  Other than that, I can get cheaper grain elsewhere and mill at home.  Excited to see that place though!

Do you really think I'll need vacuum bags in addition to the plastic bins with gamma seal lids?!  I really don't want to have to deal with those bags and their required extra steps if they can be avoided!  Although I'll keep as many of the 5-lb bags in their original bags rather than dumping them into the pails (as will fit, bagged) which may help?!

Thanks again, and again, sorry for giving you so much to read!  Don't know what my problem is tonight!!

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

Hi, yes you're right it's called a "flaker". This is the grain mill I have, a Schnitzer Vario, http://www.grains2mill.co.uk/sites/default/files/images/Vario%20web%20250.jpg They are beautiful machines which very much grace the kitchen top rather than being another hunk of plastic taking up space but I went that way in order to keep the wife happy as she wasn't quite bought into the "need" for a grain mill :-) Naturally in a SHTF scenario this isn't going to be any use as it's electric and the power will be one of the first things to go so as a back up I bought a much cheaper manual grain mill which I hope I'll never need to use. They're still available as per Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Back-basics-Hand-Grain-mill/dp/B000PCDTNI It's also vital that you have some way to purify water sources as the water supply will be the other primary thing to go and become quickly contaminated. Anyway, a whole other forum sectioncould be devoted to all this stuff !! When I mentioned windmills/watermills what I meant was, seek out a local flour miller and go get your grains from there if possible. That way you're supporting local business, reducing inefficency of transporting heavy goods and probably saving on delivery costs too. As for your storage I think you may find the buckets inadequate if you plan to use the grains often. When I looked into long term food storage, certainly all the US people stored their grains in those large plastic buckets BUT before they did, they transferred the grains into mylar (thick foil) bags and vacuum pumped them (some using domestic vacuum cleaners!). So if the intention is long term storage (like years) then that's the way to go, but for regular use probably not. Every time you re-open your bucket to pull out some grains you're letting the air back in and those oxygen absorbers will be a waste of time. Better to pack in separate smaller bags imo and just pull out one at a time thereby not disturbing the rest. It is highly unlikely that the grains will be in air tight bags when you receive them from your supplier so definitely worth investing in a vacuum sealer. My wife found a really good vacuum sealer that is actually very small and compact and it's power really surprised me. Really not that expensive at all and well worth the investment for general use all round, preserving left overs, meats etc etc. I'm not what you would class as a survivalist or "prepper" as they are known in the States but I do like to think and plan ahead and the impending collapse of the US Dollar and the likely repercussions of that which will lead to Hyperinflation are my main worry. There will be a lot of civil unrest (remember Algeria, Libya, Egypt riots in the streets etc?) and I think trading could be affected, shops may run dry and so on. I feel happier in myself knowing that I am no longer reliant on the retail industry in a "just in time" basis, i.e. If you were to lock me in my house now, I could survive very happily and cook, eat and drink for probably 6 months through a combination of basic long term foods, dried foods, some frozen foods, tinned produce, grains, pulses, pastas, rice etc etc. It's not "just in case" storage, it's a living and breathing pantry if you like that we constantly use and replenish. Anyways, hope that's all been of some use. GL.