The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Around 25 pounds of fresh wheat berries....now what?

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Around 25 pounds of fresh wheat berries....now what?

I had a great time today at our local antique flywheelers show and was captivated by a demonstration of an antique thresher doing its job.  Powered by an antique tractor, it was a sight to behold.   The antique saw and veneer mills were equally wondrous - and by golly, not a single label was  affixed to anything warning about the dangers involved.  Those who run the show and the machines are local people of good common sense.


I couldn't help but marvel at those who invented these wonderful machines, as well as being grateful for their creativity.


But back to the threshing.  Fresh local wheat was used for the threshing.  The straw wound up in one pile and the wheat berries were deposited in a 55-gallon drum.  The folks are friendly and after talking about bread baking and wheat, I was told I could take as much of the threshed wheat as I wanted - the entire 55 gallon drum, if I had room in my vehicle!


I would up with about 25 pounds of wheat berries (about all I could carry since my car was parked a distance away).  They are very moist because of the rains we've had and contain lots of "foreign matter" in them.


Any suggestions on how to (easily) separate the strange stuff (weed seeds, crown vetch, etc) from the wheat?  I forgot to ask the farmers at the show.


 

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

How fun.  It would be great to see something like that around here where I live.  Light stuff can be separated by pouring from on container to another on a windy day or use a fan.  The other material that is heavy will take some other method.  I use to have a gravity table for separating foreign material from almonds when I was an almond handler.  The principle that it used was vibration on a sloped plane.  Funny thing is almonds will climb up a sloped plane when they are vibrated.  I'm wondering if a small amount on a cookie sheet with something like a palm sander to supply the vibration would separate the material.  If it works right materials of the same kind should gather together.  I should test this and see if it works.  I planted some rye this year as a cover crop and harvested some of it.  The rye will be of no use if I can't get it cleaned up somehow.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Well you could sprout some of them and add to your dough


Put them under water for 24 hours you will be able to get rid of dust and other bits with a water hose in a large bucket


Place the wheat in a leg of OLD panty hose or pillow case and tie up to let drain, everytime you get the opportunity dunk the parcel into fresh water and let it continue to drain.


Depending on the ambient temperature you will be able to see the wheat start to sprout within a day or 2. taste them you will find them gowing in sweetness you can add these berries toward the end of your mixing process (less chance of damage to the berry.) You can use them over several days if you bake often.


I have used them up to the rate of 25% addition. ENJOY    

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

If they are very moist they will heat up and start to ferment and may also mold. Can  you spread them out say on a sheet or other absorbent fabric to let them dry out? You have to get them dried some way, possibly in the oven at a very low temp, or a dehydrator. You need to deal with the moisture in them and worry about the foreign matter later.


www.organicwheatproducts.com

LindyD's picture
LindyD

After reading your suggestion, I moved them off the porch table where I had them spread out.  Too chilly and damp out there.  They're now spread out in four cardboard boxes inside, where it's warmer and drier.


Appreciate your suggestions, LeadDog and Yozzause.  I think I'll work on getting them dried and cleaned first, before trying to sprout them.


After taking a closer look at the wheat once it was divided between those four boxes, there really isn't a whole lot of foreign stuff in there.  Could be that the shaking and banging of that old antique thresher displaced most of it.


The flywheelers do this show every year.  I'll be back next year, but will remember to take my camera. 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Lindy,


Thom Leonard is a prominent artisan baker in Lawrence, Kansas who was profiled in one of Maggie Glezer's books.   He wrote his own book entitled "The Bread Book" (listed in my bibliography) and I think he actually talks about growing and harvesting your own wheat.  Out of print for now, but used copies are available:


http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Book-Thom-Leonard/dp/0936184094/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248822151&sr=8-1


--Dan DiMuzio

suave's picture
suave

Yep, I have the book and his suggestion is "in steady wind slowly pour grain from one container to another", according to him with a bit of practice it takes care of most lightweight material.  One thing I'd like to note is that AFAIK, here in Michigan we mostly have soft wheat.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Thanks, Dan, for the link.  It was Glezer's description of the wheat fields in "Artisan Baking" that piqued my interest.  I was enthralled by that threshing demonstration and found a great site which has an animation of what goes on inside the thresher.  Linked here.  It's always fun to learn how things work.


I find a certain magic (and amazement) in holding dough when, after mixing, folding, and fermenting, it gets to that stage where it's light, airy, and feels alive in your hands.  Opening a bag of flour is one thing.  Seeing bundles of wheat flung into a thresher, then watching the straw come out one end while the berries fly out of the chute puts a different perspective on the process.  


I think I'll get a copy of the book because I've no idea of what I'm doing when it comes to wheat berries and grinds.  Maybe with a little help, I'll be able to grind it and bake a loaf of bad bread versus wretched bread.  The fun will be in the trying.


BTW, I was on Google Books last night and downloaded a free copy of "The History of Bread" by John Ashton.  Published in 1904 by the Religious Tract Society of London.  Interesting book.  Even discusses how bread was used to find the bodies of drowned persons (chapter on Legends about Bread).  

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Thom is really, in my opinion, one of the 2 or 3 most knowledgable and talented bakers in this country.  That's why I asked him to be a tech editor for my book.  He just also happens to be expert in growing and milling wheat, whether on a small or large scale.  Now he consults as an independent and works for Heartland Mill, I believe.


At the time he published that book (I think in the 80's?) what he was doing in growing his own wheat was very radical.  Now it would seem very unusual, but not so radical. I hope that someday his book can be re-published.


--Dan DiMuzio