The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


flourgirl51's picture

Being a certified organic farmer means MUCH more than just not using chemicals. It means a different way of farming altogether than conventional farming. Certified organic farming means you have to leave buffer strips to make sure that adjoining fields can't contaminate your fields with chemical sprays and GMO crops. This is done by tilling under a large section of your fields that are near neighboring fields. We can't use chemicals in organic farming so we have to remove weeds with the tractor and methods called multiweeding and harrowing. These methods also remove a portion of the crops which you lose so you have to seed heavier to compensate for this which makes it more expensive than conventional farming is and also means hours and hours spent in the tractor. Water quality is also checked and soil samples are required much of the time. This all costs money. We have to rotate the crops each year which helps to keep the soils from being depleted of nutrients , which means you can' t grow the same crop on the same field two years in a row. You have to let some fields "rest" or lie fallow for a year which helps to remove weeds by not planting that field that year, you just keep tilling the weeds under to kill them. When a field lies fallow you don't make any money from it that year, but it helps to produce a better crop the next year. We grow a specialty legume crop that produces nitrogen for the ground instead of using a deadly chemical such as annhydrous ammonia. Nitrogen is key to the protein content of the wheat and we are proud of our 14% high protein wheat-produced organically. Being certified organic means that you have to pay to join a certifying agency.THEY in turn choose an inspector to send out to the farm each year to perform an all day inspection. You can't choose your own independent inspection company in certified organic farming. Companies can't do inspections, only certifiying agencies can. The inspector checks the fields and crops, the machinery and grain bins and the mountain of paperwork and records that you have to have. You have to have certificates and affidavits for many things. The machinery, grain bins and trucks have to be cleaned out between crops and be rodent proof and the trucks and combine are checked to make sure that they aren't leaking anything that could contaminate organic soil. The semi trucks that haul the grains to the mills have to also be cleaned out and have affidavits also.If you use any fertilizers such as molasses, you have to provide the paperwork that shows that they are approved by your certifying agency, and also provide the labels for these. If you have too many weeds in your fields the crops can be condemned and are not certifiable. Just because an inspector comes and checks your farm does NOT mean that your farm will be certified organic. All of the certifying agency's requirements have to be met in order to become certified. If they choose not to certify your crops you don't get your money back and you can't sell your crops as certified organic. We CHOSE to be certified organic farmers because we believe that it is so much better for us, our families, the earth and our customers who buy directly from us and ultimately for the consumers who end up with our high quality grains and flours. We work hard to grow these crops while we also try to build up the soils to replace what the crops remove each year. I hope that this has helped to educate some people about what it really means to be Certified Organic. Going the extra mile to become a cerfied organic farm means that our customers can be assured that we have done everything possible to provide them with the highest quality wheats and flours that we can while we also are stewards of the land that is so precious to us. We have been a certified organic farm for almost 14 years.

ehanner's picture

For months I have been trying to decide on buying a good quality grain mill and grinding my own fresh grains. I really don't want to buy what I can purchase easily locally, but we live in a rural area and it's a drive to a decent store that carries Organic. Jmonkey, Bill Wraith, Proth5 and many others have raved about how much better their fresh ground organic flours are. Today I baked up my first batch of Organic  Fresh Ground 100% WW bread. I used Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads Master recipe.

I'm still a little cynical about all this Organic and fresh ground stuff so yesterday I made a batch of the same recipe using Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground WW, which has been my usual WW flour. I was able to save half the loaf to compare with todays results. The bread was delicious on its own.

Today I used the flour I received from Country Creations mail order flour service. The price is right and due to a regional shipper I got the flour on my door step in 2 days for less than I would pay at TJ or Whole Foods. Rhonda took my order and ground the 2 bags I bought that day. The product is slightly grainy instead of the silky smooth KA brands but I think is fine for my use. I got good gluten development in the short mixing time and a nice rise during my over proofing :>(.

My family was asking what is in the oven since the aroma was stronger than my usual breads. The house filled with a rich wholesome aroma I have not experienced prior. When the loaves came out of the oven I was really surprised at the wonderful smell. I have always expected this kind of aroma but never experienced it. Knowing how much of our taste comes from sense of smell, I have high expectations.

Finally the taste test. My wife had been gone and so she was able to objectively try both versions and pass judgement. The overwhelming consensus is that the fresh ground is way better tasting and smelling.

So, I'm sold. Country Creations has a wide variety of the products I like to use and their prices are more than fair. To me it's a bonus that her farm is Certified Organic and also the taste test winner. It's a win win situation for us.

On another thread several members are discussing the changing flour situation and how hard it is to get a straight answer from TJ's. The Whole Foods is a huge place but they don't move that much product so I question how fresh it is, plus it is priced at double what I paid through these folks. I can't think of a reason not to support the small farmer/mill. Hey, it's Earth Day right? I'm taking a stand!


I was distracted and this got over proofed, sorry.

Wild-Yeast's picture

Explosive Oven Spring

June 10, 2008 - 12:24am -- Wild-Yeast

Performed the bi-daily bake tonight and was totally suprised with the amount of oven spring. The loaf nearly blew itself apart! You can barely see the slash pattern..., I've decreased the time of the bake to around 36 minutes with the first 15 minutes under the stainless steel cloche. Find out tomorrow what the crumb looks like.



San Francisco Sourdough French

staff of life's picture

A Sourdough Observation

February 8, 2008 - 7:00pm -- staff of life

When I attempted to make a sourdough culture over a year ago, I used something called I believe Gold'n White, the only organic flour my store carried.  It was basically whole wheat without the bran.  The culture fermented so quickly that by the end of the first day, it was ready for a feeding.  I fed it, and fed it, stuck it in the refrigerator, and fed it some more until I realized that this starter was way too active for me.  This was all in one day.  It was the second sourdough culture I had started, so I had at least a bit of familiarity with creating and maintaining a cultur

bakerb's picture

Hello...I'm looking for an organic farmer & miller in Michigan, I'd like to buy fresh-ground unbleached bread flour, locally.  I live in Bay City.  Tomorrow I'm headed south (Linden, Michigan) to Westwind Milling Company to try their products.  Does anyone know of another place?  Thanks!

mse1152's picture


There are a few of us living in San Diego. Susan (of upside down Pyrex bowl cloche fame) and I (of no particular fame that we can talk about here) have gotten together a couple of times. Last week, we did a field trip to a place called Lakeside Poultry that no longer sells poultry (???), but does sell restaurant supplies, including 50 pound bags of flour. Susan bought a bag of Gold Medal Harvest King, and I bought a bag of Eagle Mills organic bread flour (from ConAgra, not exactly your old time mill).

I have been using Bob's Red Mill flours for years, so I decided to do a side-by-side bakeoff, making one loaf of sourdough from Bob's (BRM) and one from the new Eagle Mills (EM) flour. BRM is organic unbleached flour with a protein percentage of 11.75. The EM flour has 11 percent. Neither is malted. I used the recipe I've posted earlier here, except I used all unbleached flour in the sponges. I started a sponge for each batch of dough with one teaspoon of my 100% hydration white starter, created from the BRM flour. Due to yet another brain lapse, I neglected to photograph the sponges. For the record, BRM looked a bit more robust, thicker, but both had very good bubble populations. Here are pics of the two doughs just after the initial mix (BRM is on the left):














I did four stretch and folds, with 45 minutes between each (and before the first one), for a total fermentation time of about four hours. Both doughs were a bit tacky, and the EM dough rose a little more throughout than the BRM. After the fourth S&F, the dough rested for about 25 minutes before shaping. The BRM dough looked and felt smoother after shaping, as seen here (BRM on the left):


The loaves rested 30 minutes after shaping, then went into the oven at 425F (convection). I poured boiling water into a cast iron pan at (well, almost) the same time. I wasn't happy with the look or feel of the BRM loaf; it didn't take the scoring well, and the knife just dragged through the dough. It was also flatter looking than the EM. But the oven spring fairies were on duty! Here's the BRM loaf:















And the EM loaf:
















I haven't used that center slash before, and I think I like it better than 2 or 3 diagonal ones. Both loaves had very good oven spring and color. They had decently open crumb for a 65% hydration bread.

Here's the BRM crumb:















And the EM:
















So I'm not seeing much difference so far, are you? The biggest difference is the price; I order the organic Bob's Red Mill flour online, and the shipping doubles the cost of the flour ($12.00 for 20 lb. of flour plus $14.00 shipping). The 50 pound bag of Eagle Mills cost just over $18.00. Duh...

After all this, how did they taste? Well, in a side by side tasting, the clear winner, well I think I, uh, actually, they tasted very similar! And this is actually good news, because I don't have to spend so much on flour anymore.

It was a fun experiment, and I was even able to keep track of which dough blob was which throughout the whole thing.



pumpkinpapa's picture

Harvest Moon Artisan Bakery in the Bruce Penninsula

March 11, 2007 - 7:13am -- pumpkinpapa

I've visited the Harvest Moon Artisan Bakery once every summer while on vacation in the Bruce penninsula here in Ontario. They built their reputation on their pies, wonderful fillings and great flaky crust. Plus so many savoury items, bread's, cookies, cakes etc. I can't say enough about them. They also have an organic herb garden and a heritage orchard on their property interspersed with trails and sculptures. A nice break from travels!

And I never have enough money to buy all the creations they lovingly prepare.


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