The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Weight vs. Volume Measuring

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Weight vs. Volume Measuring

I was using store-bought flour until I bought a Nutrimill approximately 2 weeks ago and started milling my flour at home.  Immediately I noticed a difference in the characteristics of the various flours that I was milling at home vs. the store-bought flours.  Last week I bought a scale.  Today I weighed one cup of store-bought, white flour @ 5.4 oz..  When I weighed one cup of the hard, white, wheat flour that I milled it came in at 4.75 oz..  Quite a difference.  Likewise, with the rye flour:  4.85oz./cup for the store-bought vs. 3.55 oz./cup for the home-milled.  That is quite a significant difference.  In the wheat flours I didn't really weigh "equals" as the store-bought flour was white while mine was whole wheat, but in the case of the rye flours, both were whole grain flours.  I did grind my flour significantly finer than the store-bought flour.  Today I adjusted my rye bread recipe so that I used equal weights of home-milled flour compared to the amount of the store-bought flour that I had used.  It will be interesting to see if there is any difference in the resulting bread.

Does anyone else out there have any experience with changing recipes over from volume measurement to weight measures?

Cliff. Johnston

wildeny's picture
wildeny

Rathan than by volume.

When I usually just use the convertion mentioned somewhere else. But the error can be large, especially trying some recipes from home bakers.

Squid's picture
Squid

I wish all recipes were by weight rather than volume. It's a heck of a lot easier.

TRK's picture
TRK

Unfortunately different authors measure a cup of flour different ways, and don't even always tell us what it is.  Some "dip and sweep" which packs that flour into the cup.  Others spoon it in, then level off, which results in very light cups.  And as you noticed, different flours are going to affect it too.  Squid is right, measuring them all by weight would be SO much easier.  With a little practice, I bet you can standardize it, but it is definitely a pain.

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

I was amazed to read 3 different volume measurements used in one article with a recipe - just wish that I could find it to back up my statement.  One was a straight dip out of the bag.  The second was to stir the flour first and then dip into it.  The third was to sift first and then dip.  Good grief, Charlie Brown!  Weighing is so much simpler, as I'm finding out.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

caryn's picture
caryn

First, I will say that I think all recipes should give you weight measurements. It is so much more consistent, and it is so much easier in my opinion. I often translate a recipe written in volume to weight, but of course it is difficult to decide what conversion to use: Cooks Illustrated uses a 4.5 once cup and others use different calculations. If it is a small recipe and I believe that the precise amount is not critical, I will just assume roughly about a 4 to 4.5 once cup. Actually, I really prefer metric measurements.

And secondly, I would just like to know if you think your Nutrimill is worth it. Can you really taste the difference? And is it easy to use?

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Is the Nutrimill worth it?  It depends...don't you just love an answer like that?

If you're wanting to get the most nutritive value for yourself and your family, yes.  If you're looking for the best in fresh flavor, yes.  If you're just concerned about filling a hole in a hollow leg, no - it's easier to buy "stuff" at the grocery store.

So far my family (extended), wife, adult son and daughter, and neighbor husband & wife can't get enough.  The snacks in the pantry are languishing, collecting dust, and I'm seriously thinking about tossing them.  They'd all much prefer to have a slice of my Nutrimill-flour rye bread with butter with or without peach or strawberry jam.  This goes for the mornings, afternoons and evenings.  They rave about the crunchy, chewy crusts and the moist, tender inside.  I never thought that I'd witness such a phenomenom.  I don't complain as I know that it is nutritious and good for them.  When they go, "Ooh!" and "Aah!" and "Delicious!" I just smile and tell them to enjoy it - which they do.

Right now I'm in the learning stages with my Nutrimill and the flour that it mills.  I'd read all that I wanted to read about it before I bought it.  Now, it's hands-on time.  I just finished a loaf with flour that I aged for one week in the fridge and busted an "urban myth" that I'd read written by a prominant nutrition guru (or at least he seems to think that he is).  The Nutrimill flour did NOT turn RANCID after 3 days (as I had read in one article).  Perhaps keeping it in a sealed container in the fridge and not in a hot, humid kitchen in an open container helped - dunno;-)  How does one tell if the flour is turning rancid?  A simple sniff test will do the trick.  What I did notice is that the dough had significantly more elasticity to it.  I did a conversion from volume to weight recipe too which resulted in using more flour initially during the first 18-hour proofing (I use the no-knead method of making bread consisting of an initial 18-hour proofing, followed by a 15-minute rest, and a final 2-hour proofing).  I'll write up the methodology and results in another thread that I've got going.

What I cannot explain, and perhaps someone can jump in here and help me out with an explanation, is that I feel satisfied when I eat my Nutrimill-flour rye bread after eating a couple of slices.  I can reach a point where my appetite is satisfied.  When I ate my store-bought-flour rye bread I always seemed to have somewhat of an insatiable craving for more of the bread.  As I'm a border-line diabetic I find myself wondering why.  The ingredients, other than the flours, were the same.  So, there must be something in the Nutrimill milled flour that is significant in order for it to satisfy that "craving". 

Now that I've had my Nutrimill for a few weeks I would not return it for double its original cost if I had to go back to using store-bought flours.  So, I would say that I'm very pleased with it, and I do notice that the bread tastes better too - at least to me.

Oh, I almost forgot.  The Nutrimill is very easy to use.  The only thing that I'm finding is that I need to buy a 1" natural bristle brush (actually synthetic would work too) to brush off the collecting bin and some of the more difficult to clean parts of its lid when I'm finished milling.  Wiping with a dry cloth or paper towel doesn't get it to where I want it. 

The Nutrimill instructions note that it is the only electric mill of its type in which you can fill the hopper with grain before turning on the mill.  I did this the first time and noticed a small amount of coarser flour in the collecting bin.  The next time I started the Nutrimill and then added the grain.  The resulting flour was all very fine - just the way that I wanted it.  One way or the other it's all good flour.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

caryn's picture
caryn

Cliff- Thank you for all that information. It is really interesting that you can perceive such a difference in the breads that you have made with the freshly ground vs purchased flour. I understand your explanation of "it depends!" I have family members who think that making your own bread is somewhat of a waste of time. (Well they don't live near enough to taste :)!)

I might consider buying a mill if it really does make a difference.  I assume that you compared the various mills that are available?

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I have a WonderMill, which was once called the WhisperMill before the company was bought out and the product rebranded. WhisperMill isn't really an accurate name anyway, unless you whisper at about the volume of a loud vacuum cleaner. But I understand it's better than some of the earlier impact mills, which sounded to some like a close encounter with a jet engine.

I like my mill because:

  • It allows me to get flour that tastes as good and performs as well as King Arthur Flour's (KAF) organic whole wheat flour for less than half the cost. I buy 50 lb bags of organic hard red spring wheat, soft white winter wheat, rye and corn for less than 50 cents a pound. Comprable flour from KAF costs about $1.10 per pound. If I weren't concerned about my grains being organic, I could get bags of it as cheap as 10-15 cents per pound.
  • Freshly ground rye and corn are amazing. Maybe it's just because I live in Massachusetts, not far from KAF's Vermont headquarters, so their whole wheat flour doesn't travel far, and, being a regional favorite son, their flour flies off the shelf at the supermarket, but I never had any problem with rancid whole wheat flour from KAF. Other brands -- definitely. But rye and corn go rancid so quickly, that it's really tough to get it fresh from anywhere unless you mill it yourself. The berries themselves keep for years and years when whole. The flavor difference really is remarkable. Fresh ground cornmeal has no bitterness at all -- it's very sweet. And freshly ground rye, well, it's hard to describe, but the flavor is markedly more full than store-bought rye flour. Plus, it's just tough to find whole rye flour. It's worth the price of the mill alone.
  • It's convenient. I never run out to the store for flour, except for the two or three times a year I need to pick up a few bags, and I can mix and match as I like. Anadama tonight? No sweat, the WonderMill grinds it up in minutes. Rye bread? Sure thing. A mix of spring and winter wheats? Why not?
  • I don't own a stand mixer. And a good one costs about $200, or roughly what I paid for my mill. So I justify it that way, too.
I bake all of my family's bread, and it's almost entirely whole grain, which means I make 3-4 loaves per week. Having a mill really is a no brainer for me, for reasons of taste, health (or so I've read), convenience and economics.
Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Caryn,

Yes, I did compare all of the mills on the market before I took the "plunge" and bought one.  I even looked at some lovely works of art with fine wood cabinets made in Germany - truly beautiful, but in the end not for me.  I considered both the electric powered and manual powered mills. 

When I read several reviews about the manual mills I decided against all of them for several reasons.  First was the time that it took.  If I could knit or do something else and turn a crank at the same time - may be, but as I can't and don't that was one strike against them.  Unless one is milling small batches they are simply too slow.  There is one behemoth with a matching price, but unless one is planning for the final conflict and/or no electricity then many of the electric mills are considerably less expensive and much faster.  One has to have a good arm to use a manual mill.  Don't waste your breath if someone is thinking about responding that your manual mill is easy to use.  I've got arthritis in the hands, elbows and shoulders.  To me they are all a pain.  When I read these negative comments about manual mills that was the end of my research into them.  Pricing?  $25-$500.

The electric powered mills fall into 3 categories that I can recall depending on how they mill the grain into flour.  There are the modern replicas of the old stone mills that grind the grain between two stone wheels.  Then there are the burr mills.  These have metal grinders, something like toothed-wheels, that reduce the grain into flour.  Then there are the newer type mills that use centripital force and toothed wheels to "explode" the grain into flour.  Each type has its pros and cons.

The electric powered stone mills today are made with modern ceramic stone wheels for the most part.  They still suffer though from the centuries old problem of clogging and needing tedious cleaning.  On the plus side they mill flour at cooler temperatures preserving nutrients.  There are some real works of art on the market made with lovely wood cabinets, etc., and they have matching artsy pricing.  The copy that is written about them is a real treat to read - lots of nostalgia and how they bring back the "good olde days".  To me the "good olde days" weren't that good when I look at what they had then and what we have now.  So, their big plus is low milling temperatures.  How high is too high?  I read one article that claims nutrient loss starting at 110°F..  Dunno.  Pricing?  $200-$1,000+

Then there are the burr mills which are usually noisy.  They produce higher temperatures in the milled flour too from what I've read.  How high I didn't read - all of the authors just seemed to assume that I'd know and/or take their word for it.  Pricing?  Dunno - wasn't that interested in them.

Finally I read about the newer mills which "exploded" the grain at cooler temperatures, thus preserving their nutrients.  This technology has been around for a long time, but it was never "miniaturized" for the home market until relatively recent years.  Plus, it is noisy!  The WhisperMill and the Nutrimill were the first to make smaller and quieter models.  I read that the company that makes the WhisperMill is having financial difficulties.  Service has been reported to be poor for a long time - lots of complaints online.  It has been taken over by another company and renamed the WonderMill.  Their mill takes up a fair amount of counter space, coming in 2 pieces that are connected by a large diameter tube.  The Nutrimill is about as noisy as a vacuum cleaner - acceptable, but it makes listening to the TV a nuisance as I have to turn up the volume - actually I gave up on the TV while milling grain and read - I survived.  It is reasonably compact.  One needs to qualify how the term "explodes" is used.  Actually the grain is spun around in a chamber with 2, toothed wheels that impact the graind so that it flies apart into pieces - fine flour or other sizes up corn meal size.  It's your choice (or selection).  The Nutrimill allows you to load the grain into the hopper before turning on the power.  I tried this once and noticed that the first grains were milled into slightly coarser flour than the fine setting that I had the mill set to.  It really doesn't matter, but now I turn on my Nutrimill and then add the grain.  Other competitive mills will not work if you load the hopper first and then turn on the power.  Pricing isn't cheap, but it isn't outrageous either.  I paid $249.99 delivered.  I regard it as a significant baking tool, not a gadget. 

Actually buying my Nutrimill was the easy part.  The most difficult part was finding a local source for the whole grains.  Ease of use?  I find it very easy to use.  There are a few things to watch out for - like when puting the top on the receiving bin make sure that both lugs are in place.  The first time that I milled flour one of the lugs wasn't in place resulting in a small cloud of flour when I turned on the mill...lol...  Once I forgot to take the hopper extension out of the flour bin and had to retrieve it after grinding the flour - just a little flour mess...  Other than those two boo-boos all has gone well, and I wouldn't have made those errors if I hadn't been in such a hurry either...excuses, excuses...

So this was basically the information that stood out for me when I researched grain mills with the intent to buy one.  Obviously I ended up buying the Nutrimill.  I've used it now going into my 3rd week, and it fullfills my needs.  Other people may have other needs, and the Nutrimill may not be the mill for them.  Does the bread taste better?  My wife, children and the neighbours all say, "YES!"  Me too.  The crusts are incomparble!  Then there is the improved nutritional value and one other "unmentionable" item applicable to my rye bread.  Getting personal, I take methadone for pain control (No, I'm not a drug addict.  I have 3 dessicated, collapsing discs in my lower back.)  Constipation is a nasty side effect with this drug, but it's the only one that controls my pain with minimal side effects while allowing me to function well enough to look after myself.  The rye bread that I make has solved the constipation problem.  Other people have mentioned that it keeps them regular, and they feel so much better for it too :-)

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

Sylviambt's picture
Sylviambt

Cliff,

Thanks so much for the detailed comparisons.  Helps lots as I think about purchasing a mill. I've got the Nutrimill website bookmarked on my computer - I'm leaning that way.

I've searched around for used Nutrimill grinders, but there are none to be found on eBay or other sites.  I guess the people that use them, hang on to them.

Sylvia

caryn's picture
caryn

Cliff-  Thanks so much for your detailed information.  I even checked out the ebay link, but the starting price is $199, too high to buy from ebay if the retail price is $249 delivered.

I think I also have to explore the availability of whole grains here.  I think my bulk nut store may sell some, but I have to explore that.

Before you got your mill and you baked bread with store ground flour, did you also buy whole grain products, such as whole grain rye flour?  Or were you unable to find many whole grain flours?

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Caryn,

I chuckle at myself when I think about buying the grain.  I bought the Nutrimill totally ignorant about buying the grain for it.  I had never used any whole grains for anything previously.  It took me a few minutes to figure out that grain is something not that readily available in some areas, like where I live.  Fortunately I quickly found a health food store that ordered it for me.  They all have access to it;  however, only one in this area was interested in my business.  Since then I've found several other sources.  So it's relatively simple to buy it now.  Of course the health food stores all want to make their customers think that it's something special.  So, they don't call it grain.  They call it "berries", as in "wheat berries".  As a biology major I cringe at that use, but then businesses will prostitute any word for a buck.  Yesterday I found a grocery health food store that carries the grain at about 1/2 the price at which I bought mine so I'm going to take a short drive to check it out.  In all fairness to the health food store where I did buy my grain, they delivered very high quality, organic grains.  I have no complaints.  It is cleaned very well.

Before I bought my Nutrimill I bought various flours at several area stores.  I was never satisfied with the resulting bread.  It drove me around the bend.  My family enjoyed the breads as they said that they were better than store-bought bread, but I just couldn't get into them.  I had been raised on European-style breads made by small bakeries.  One by one they slowly went out of business.  Finally I stopped eating bread.  I couldn't get used to the "new & improved", factory-produced, enriched breads.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

athagan's picture
athagan

Not even in my Florida kitchen in the summertime which stays around 80-82 degrees do I believe that freshly milled whole-wheat flour goes rancid in a mere three days. Two weeks probably would do it so far as being noticeable is concerned, but not three days. I wouldn't let it sit out for a month. I keep my WW flour in the fridge.

My mill is an original Grainmaster Whispermill which as many here know is no longer made which is a pity. If ever it goes toes up I'll probably go over to the Nutrimill unless something better comes along before then. Back when I was looking at mills the two were pretty much a toss-up and it was only the better price that I found at the time that led me to buy the Whispermill.

Whether you should buy a mill of your own depends on how much whole-grain products you use, the availability of fresh whole-grain products in your local stores and whether you want to use whole-grains in a food storage program. If you don't use all that much and you've got a decent source of whole-wheat flour locally I wouldn't bother with a mill. Anyone else would probably be well served in getting one.

.....Alan.

The Prudent Food Storage FAQ

http://athagan.members.atlantic.net/Index.html

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

As a new member, I don't know if i'm violating any protocols by responding to an older thread.  But as long as it's sitting around and I have an opinion that I can post, I think I'll do it.

 There is no reliable standard for flour volume to weight conversion.  There's the generally accepted "right" way to measure flour - stir and spoon - but, regardless, you're going to end up with a different amount of flour than I am.

On the other hand, there are other variables involved (such as humidity) that affect the amount of flour that's needed.  So, even if you're working from weights and measuring carefully, you may find you need to add more (or less) flour than called for.

I say, don't sweat it.  Go by your good bread sense.  Except that doughs that break the baby's bottom rule will probably have weights attached, anyway, I think.

Rosalie

sourdough-guy's picture
sourdough-guy

  • On the other hand, there are other variables involved (such as humidity) that affect the amount of flour that's needed.  So, even if you're working from weights and measuring carefully, you may find you need to add more (or less) flour than called for.

OOOh. Different flours will absorb different amounts of water. But here in the UK at least the weather has never affected the flour as far as either my self or my family's bakery is concerned and I'm going back a hundred and fifty years. I come from one of the wettest parts of England but even during the long droughts of '76 and '81 and the more recent ones we never had to change a recipe. We weigh everything of course. If the flour does change in response to the weather it really isn't significant, perhaps if you're moving from the Brazilian rain Forrest to Arizona and taking your flour with you it might I don't know, but not in our experience here in the UK.

I really think this was just some sloppy advice given once that's turned into an urban myth.

 

SDG

Robin Cone's picture
Robin Cone

The answer is derived by ubderstanding how quickly the sugar component enters the blood. Bread is made by adding yeast so that air pockets will form and the bread will be light.  The texture of your home milled flour is more dense causing the air pockets to be smaller. The bread begins digestion by stomach enzymes breaking it down into small particles that will enter the blood and be carried to organs for absorption.  The enzymes enter the larger holes of bread made with store bought flour and quickly tear them apart.  The sugars are then quickly released into the blood telling the pancreas to release insulin.  The sugar receptors in your brain are now stimulated and you want to continue eating.  The home made flour is more dense and breaks apart slower.  The sugar enters the blood more slowly allowing the body to produce hormones in the hypothalamus that control satiety.