The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sprouted Wheat Flour vs. Freshly Milled Flour

Dogstar5988's picture
Dogstar5988

Sprouted Wheat Flour vs. Freshly Milled Flour

Hey there,

I am starting out milling my own flour. I currently have been using regular store bought whole wheat flour for my breads and have been reading about using sprouted flour instead and how much better its suppose to be for you. My question is if I am milling at home instead of going store bought is milling sprouted flour still worth the effort vs. just milling my own Hard Red Wheat?

 

Thank you

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Milling sprouted berries adds some steps and time, whether it is worth it to you is a personal decision.  I mostly use home milled flour, and have sprouted and milled some flour, and while it has a great taste ,  it is a different taste, and I have friends that don't like it as much as normal milled flour.  If you are going to do it full time, it helps to have a dehydrator so you can dry out the flour.  For me  it takes about 24 hours to get sprouts  -  sometimes longer, then another 12 hours in the dehydrator to dry the berries, then the normal time to grind.  But positive they are dry, because milling moist sprouted berries will either clog the machine, taking a long time to clean, or even damage the motor.  

Dogstar5988's picture
Dogstar5988

Thanks for the info. I'm mostly trying to do what is the healthiest even if that does take a bit more time. It seems like milling my own flour even without sprouting it should still be a big step up from store bought. Are there other ways of making my bread healthier? I'm still a bit of a bread noob. I've heard about soaking flour, is this something I can incorporate into my existing recipe?

Thank you

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

 I don't think there is much in the way of established research on the health benefits of different types of bread.  There is one older study that found that using a natural starter ( AKA sourdough ) has some health benefits over commercial yeast.  While there are some studies comparing white flour to whole wheat, I have read a few posts that suggest that commercial whole wheat is different from home milled wheat either in what has been extracted, or even if it is 100% whole wheat, the milling process is different and may impact the health benefits.  I certainly have not seen any studies comparing the health benefits of home mill whole wheat to white flour, and would be stunned to see one since the population of home millers is pretty small, so it would be hard to get a good double blind group for the study.

If you are trying for maximum health benefits, I would try sourdough, 100% whole wheat, and 100% sprouted flour, since that seems to be the things that are suggested are the best for health.  I personally am 100% whole wheat with natural starters.  BTW, if you are doing this for the health benefits, don't forget that you can make pancakes and pasta from 100% whole wheat.  

Dogstar5988's picture
Dogstar5988

Oh wow thanks for that info. I just assumed that home milling was done for health benefits. Isn't home milled flour 100% whole wheat by nature whatever berries are used? Sorry this subject is really confusing me. And I guess why do people tend to home mill in the first place?

I have tried natural sourdough starter in the past but the upkeep ended up being too much for me. Keeping it alive in the fridge and feeding it was like having another pet. :P

agres's picture
agres

The advantage of fresh milled is better flavor than store bought. Some store bought WWF are also reconstituted, and have less nutrition than stone ground flours.

Sprouted is a whole new ball game.  Sprouted flours can be sweeter, and have less tannins than ordinary WWF.

Nutrition depends on how much bread you eat.  If you eat a good deal of bread, and are very particular about your diet, then sprouted flours may be worth the extra effort.

If you can fold sprouting into your routine, then sprouting takes more planning and thinking ahead than actual time.  For example, I made cloth liners for my dehydrator which makes drying the grain faster and easier. Rinsing grain is faster than feeding the sourdough culture. Both have to be done every day, but together, they are less than half an hour per week.  I do not discard sourdough - twice a week I use 2/3 of my culture to make bread. And, again baking is folded into my routine, and does not take much time.

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

I have been thinking about this same question. I did a bunch of reading and what it came down to, as far as I could figure out, is that sprouting generates a bunch of enzymatic activity, making the flour more digestible. There also seems to be an increase in vitamin content.

However, when you freshly mill a flour and then immediately soak it and/or ferment it, before the enzymes have a chance to get old, the flour goes through a very similar process as if it had been sprouted (in terms of the enzymatic activity) and so becomes more digestible, just as if it had been sprouted. However the vitamin content isn't increased the way it is in sprouting.

The down side of buying sprouted flour is the same as the down side of buying any pre-milled whole flour: it goes stale/rancid very rapidly and should probably be kept in the fridge or freezer. And the cost is very very high.

I ended up deciding that the time and space needed to sprout, dry, and then mill my own flour, or the cost of buying pre-sprouted flour, wasn't worth it to me for an increase in vitamins (especially since we have no idea if those vitamins are still increased after baking. For example, vitamin C is destroyed by heat.)

Instead, I am buying organic wheat (which I can get locally for 1 or 2 dollars a pound, and which keeps indefinitely) and then milling it myself to use in breads that use an overnight fermentation, either at room temperature for sourdough or in the fridge for commercial yeast. This allows me to get the digestibility and phytase reduction that comes with sprouting, without having to pay a high cost in either cash and cold storage space or time and equipment.  

In terms of nutrition, it is looking like whole grains are much higher in antioxidants than anyone realized, so they really are worth making part of the diet, especially if you can reduce the phytate by soaking/fermenting the flour while it is fresh.  I used to think that lectins were an issue in grains but it turns out that heating denatures the wheat lectin, so it's a non-issue.