The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to mill and sift to produce specific wheat flours?

ppschaffer's picture

How to mill and sift to produce specific wheat flours?

For all you home milling experts out there: Hundreds of years ago, before there were sifting screens and the like, presumably millers of wheat kernels used a flour consisting of 100% whole wheat: that is, the endosperm, bran and germ.  Fast-forward to modern times: Questions: (1) How does the home miller properly sift out the germ and bran and leave the (white) endosperm (flour) behind?  (2)  How to sift, for example, 100% whole wheat to yield a clear or first clear flour?  (3)  How to sift out of bran from the germ?  Any ideas?

proth5's picture

to modern times, we need to consider that roller mills played quite a role in being able to create a proper white flour.  Bolted flours ground on stone or steel burr mills always have a risk of containing some bran or  more particularly, some germ.

You can read my milling blogs - where I have home milled something very akin to white flour (they are on early pages if you search on "Proth5") Oldies, but goodies - I still mill very much the same now.

I temper my wheat to about 13% moisture over 48 hours, use a multi pass approach to milling (although some folks like a single pass) and to get as close to white flour as one can get from bolted flours, I use a 100 mesh screen and get a very low extraction rate. With my process I get something that is pretty much like pure bran (but may have germ in it) and something that is very much like pure endosperm (but also may have germ in it) - I have to date been unable to get pure germ in any sifting step.

Clear flours are something I don't even consider trying - I really think that is best left to the roller mills.

There are a lot of subtleties to getting white flour from whole wheat - not the least of which is the size of the bran/germ after grinding.  If this is ground very finely it will pass through most fine sieves and in using fine sieves to keep the bran out, some of the endosperm gets left behind also.  The trick is to get the bran to stay relatively large while grinding the endosperm very finely.  Tempering helps to do this by toughening the bran, but in the end, roller mills are best adapted to creating white flour.

Although that hasn't stopped me from creating an array of "nearly white flours" - which you may find enjoyable.

Hope this helps. And if you have any ideas about this I am always glad to discuss...

ppschaffer's picture

Hi Proth5: thanks very much!  You are obviously very knowledgeable about milling and screening.  I checked some of your comments (and the comments of bwraith) on TFL re milling...I'm in way over my head!  You and bwraith have written lots about milling...I'll be working my way through them!  Incidentally: one of your comments mentions the possibility of applying "human foot power" to your mill.    You might want to look at The Human Powered Home (or a title similiar to that) by Tamara Dean.

loydb's picture

My quick-and-dirty method for producing "white" flour is to sift my milled wheat through a #30 mining seive, leaving me with around 80% extraction. Proth5, I am in awe of your patience in using a #100 seive. I've used a #50 seive, and gotten somewhere around 55% extraction. I can't imagine the patience for a #100 seive. I have one, but I use it exclusively for filtering sauces.