The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Grinding small amounts...

fsu1mikeg's picture

Grinding small amounts...

I recently purchased the steel cone grinder attachment for my Bosch Compact Kitchen Machine.  So far, I'm fairly satisfied with the results (not that I have much by way of comparison). Since I've stopped buying packaged rye flour (and now whole wheat), I find it a bit of an inconvenience to grind every time I need even small amounts for things like feeding starters.  I have read that fresh ground flour needs to be used within 24 hours or the oils start to go rancid.  I guess packaged flours, even organic, has been processed somewhat to slow down the degradation process.  Is this accurate about fresh ground flour?  I would like to at least have a few hundred grams available to use when I need it, since I don't bake more than once or twice a week.  Would refrigerating or freezing be a good option?  And how long would either of those options prolong freshness?



charbono's picture


Firstly, there are some commercial "whole grain" flours on the market that have had the germ removed.  The others have been going rancid from day one.  At room temp, a true whole grain flour, whether commercial or home-milled, is tolerable for only a few months.  Refrigeration adds a few months, and freezing extends the life even more.


Secondly, there is no reason to use whole grain flour, especially home-milled, in an established starter.  It is thought that the buffers in whole grain flour allow acidity to build unacceptably.  The bugs are happy with cheap, refined flour, and it doesn't have to be refrigerated.

nova's picture

Professional bakers that mill their own grain always use with 4 days at the worst....but typically they grind for each day's baking.  I always mill for a bake (either the nite before or same day) but always mill more than needed for the final dough, for starters' feeding.  When I grind the extra, I keep in the frig for 24-48 hr use, otherwise I freeze.  I do NOT use stored milled flour for the final doughs.

Given that the starter cultures "degrade" flour as they feed, using older fresh ground flour will not impact the final dough.  I don't think I have ever used flour older than 10 days for feeds.  I try to keep my starter feeding inventories low enough so I don't feel I have a risk and have to discard.


I have noticed that with fresh grind, the starter activity has increased for each starter I develop and use.


shakleford's picture

Just as a contrast to the above two responders, I have used older home-ground flour in my starters without any issues.  I periodically grind some extra wheat and rye for things like starter feedings and dusting the counter.  I don't have a set timeframe on this, but I don't think it's unusual for this "spare flour" to be up to two months old or so.  My starters are healthy and I've not noticed any off flavors from the small amount of old flour that ends up in my finished product.

I'm not saying that my approach is the best way by any means; just that the drawbacks are minimal in my experience.

fsu1mikeg's picture

Thanks for all your responses.  I would prefer not to buy any extra flour to have on hand just for the purpose of refreshing my starter.  As it stands now, I have also been trying to "grind to order", adding a little extra to the mix so as to have some leftover flour to refresh my starter and dust the counter, adjust the dough, etc.  I am glad that there doesn't seem to be much of effect if this home ground flour is not used within a couple of days.  I don't think it would ever be more than a week before being used, so I should be ok.