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Need advice on milling my own flour.

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Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Need advice on milling my own flour.

Hi,

I have been baking for about 7 months now and feel its time to mill my own flour.

The breads I make are the Lahey "no knead and The Tartine "Basic Country Loaf"

Please share your thoughts, tips, concerns, and advice for me.

My plans are to get a hand grain mill........(the Diamant) or similar. 

I don't know what wheat berries to get, where to get them or how to store them.

Thanks!

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Milling your own flour means that you will be creating a 100% whole grain flour from whatever grain you use.  Do you use or want 100% whole grain flour?  You can sift out some of the bran to create a flour that is a bit less dense if you want.  I believe that the recipes that you are making primarily use white flour.  Creating white flour at home is a monumental if not nearly impossible task.  There are those who have done this at great expense in terms of both time and money.  If is is better flavor and the experience of homemilling that you seek, then go forward but know that you will be entering a whole new realm of bread baking that leans hard towards whole wheat type breads and away from more white flour type breads.

Jeff

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Jeff I did not know that I will not be able to make white bread flour!  Why is it a monumental task?

I use King Arthur 100% organic bread flour right now with a mixture of (whole foods brand) 365 organic whole wheat.

How do people go about getting white flour with a high protein content?

(For Tartine bread I use 900 grams of bread flour and 100 grams of whole wheat............For the "no knead" bread I use 350 grams bread flour and 50 grams of whole wheat.)

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

The milling process that creates white flour is quite sophisticated and complex.  So much so that a great many millers across the country do not mill white flour as the equipment necessary is cost prohibitive.  The process involves separating the bran, germ and endosperm and then further dissecting the endosperm, taking  apart and milling various layers and segments of the endosperm to make a wide variety of white flours.  This goes far beyond home milling and sifting out the bran.

Jeff

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Jeff has excellent advice. Milling your own wheat yields a delicious whole wheat flour that makes wonderful whole wheat-BUT only if you like whole wheat. It is a totally different flavor,chew,mouth feel, and even technique than the Lahey noknead or Tartine breads.

White flour like AP or Bread flour is derived from whole grain kernels but goes through a blending process (different varieties of wheat) and extensive sifting to make the finely powdered and consistent flour we know of as "regular" flour.

So buy a bag of quality whole wheat flour and try some loaves before you invest in a mill and grain. You may find a new love....or not.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

While the Diamant is an excellent mill, many home millers prefer an electric mill. For the cost of the Diamant, you could buy a top-of-the-line electric mill and still come in $300-$400 cheaper. (I'm assuming you live in the USA) and yet be able to produce whole grain flour and (if you care to advance to this level) high extraction whole wheat flour. Check out the mills that TFL members like using the search box.

Check out posts on *aging* home milled flour. If you mill a quantity of flour (more than is needed for the immediate bake) you will find that your home milled flour will perform better if it is aged.

Home milled whole grain flour benefits from an  *autolyse* or preliminary soaking. Again, the TFL search box is your friend.

Re purchasing grain, start with wheat - wheat grain (also called "wheat berries") is available in white or red types and in hard or soft types. For bread baking, you will want hard wheat (soft wheat is also available, but is better for quick breads, muffins, cookies, etc.)

re Red vs White wheat: Red wheat is is more flavorful; white wheat (while nutritionally identical to red wheat) is more neutral in flavor. Red wheat is typically available in spring and winter plantings - for artisan bread using *red* wheat, hard red *winter* wheat is preferred. White wheat grain also has spring and winter plantings, but, in the USA, I have generally found hard white spring wheat to be more available than hard white winter wheat. Practice milling and using these wheat varieties in your bread first. Later on you can branch out to other grains (such as durum wheat, spelt, kamut, rye). (I prefer organic whole grains).

Even if you have successfully worked with quality commercially milled whole grain flour, you will find that working with your own home milled flour involves a learning curve. Yet again, the TFL search box is your friend.

Hope this helps. If you have more questions (as you very well might), do feel free to post back to this this thread.

Best of luck - SF

 

proth5's picture
proth5

All of the advice above is good, but I'll add my thoughts.

Milling on a manual mill - even one as elegant as the Diamant (which is my mill) takes dedication.  You have got to want it and commit to it.  "Something similar" is not an apt phrase when referencing the Diamant.  Even the Country Living mill is not really similar - no hand mill has the flywheel weight of the Diamant and that can make a big difference in the effort to mill your grain.

When I was considering my Diamant, the price was substantially lower than it is today.  At today's prices, an electric mill might edge it out in my eyes - although I really wanted to commit to hand milling in the short term and to motorizing the mill long term.

I purchase grain either from Bob's Red Mill or Pleasant Hill Grain.  Bob's Red Mill will sell you grains in smaller quantities.  You may find other, local, sources but these two excell in my eyes because the grains are clean and are supplied by people who know milling.  You will want to store grain in rodent/insect proof containers.  Five gallon buckets with "gamma seals" (type into your favorite search engine) you can use the lids that come with buckets of grain, but I have found that to be an exercise in hurting my fingers.  I am not a fan of bulk bin wheat - it is often supplied by people who think "wheat is wheat" and don't understand that wheat quality is important.  If your bulk bin supllier also has milling knowledge, this may be a different story for you.

Read as much as you can about grains and milling.  There is unfortunately little material for the home miller - most centers on why whole grains are "good for you" - but if you are willing to dig, you can find information.

It has been a diverting little hobby for me and it can range from just grinding up grains to being able to home mill specialty flours.

Have fun, and Happy Milling!

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

I am glad you said the Diamant is the best.  That's what is seems like from my reading.  It is unfortunate that the price went up so much :(

I live in Pittsburgh, PA and am going to make a trip to Lehmans hardware store in Ohio.  They have a bunch of mills you can try out. 

A couple of things that I am looking for if I get a mill is;

-manual operation (no electric)

-not hard to operate 

-easy to clean

Does it grind the flour very fine if I choose?

What do you mean by specialty flours?

proth5's picture
proth5

The Diamant can grind very finely - I get a very fine grind by sifting and remilling (and sifting, etc.), but it also has  interchangeable metal burrs that are designated as "fine" for those who take a different approach.  It can do everything from a coarse crack to finer than commercial flours.  You will be finding it a permanent home and bolting it down - there is no other way.

Depending on your willingness to temper the wheat and sift (and grind and sift again) you can get flours at different "extractions" - "high extraction" flours (which contain 80-85% of the wheat berry) are the most common, but I like to do "almost white" or "sorta white" flours - especially from my bad boy grain triticale.  The sky is the limit.  Or rather, the work you are willing to put in is the limit.  I also do a thing called "remoullage" - which is the sifted bran remilled until it is as fine a flour.  A great thing for dusting couches and gives a lovely finish on the bread.

You probably have your own reasons for wanting non-electric, so I'll respect those, but if you are thinking a "bug out" situation, the Diamant is 85 pounds of cast iron fun, and will not be travelling with you.  I always ponder the tremendous overhead of milling and baking in a survival situation.  My take is that if the worst happens, soaking and cooking grains will be a more efficient way of getting nutrition.  Enough on that...

It is not complex to operate.  Although you can grind finely on the first pass, it is better to grind to a coarse crack on the first pass and then grind again.  It is just plain easier to turn that way.  What takes a little work is learning to judge the gap on the burrs to get your desired result.  But just dumping the grain in the hopper and turning the mill is simple - if not always easy.  A minute to learn, a lifetime to master. 

It is simple to clean, but needs to be disassembled which requires a good socket wrench and a screwdriver.  Cleaning the burrs goes faster with a good brush.  Getting it 100% clean (in case you are worried about even the smallest amount of cross contamination) will requires some brushes and maybe some pressurized air.  If I am grinding related grains (like wheat and triticale) I don't really worry about cleaning the thing.  Grinding corn makes the thing a right mess and I usually take it apart to clean.

Grinding what we know as white flour requires a roller mill - which is a mill where the wheat passes over a number of rollers with various patterns and gap settings.  This is not a home milling project (although it can be done on a smaller scale than most industrial mills.)  I can mill and sift a flour that looks and acts like white flour on the Diamant, but with stupendous effort and at a cost of a 40% extraction rate (way lower than a roller mill) - but it is not true white flour as it may contain some germ.  I did it a while back with wheat and I would only ever repeat the excercise with grains other than wheat (like triticale) and only because they are not available commercially.

Sifting will come into play if you want to make anything other than whole grain flours.  Sifting equipment ranges from soil classifiers (what I use) to eccentric sifters - which will require electricity or great ingenuity.

I believe that Lehman's now carries the Country Living mill.  It's no Diamant, but it costs a lot less. 

Again, milling is a whole discipline in and of itself. This never works for me, but I am attempting to insert a link (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10873/white-flour-project) to my old blog entries that talk about milling.  You might want to read the linked blog and others circa that time frame.

Hope this helps.

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

I don't know why people say that freshly ground flour needs to be aged. I grind mine all of the time and use it right after grinding and have never has issues. I sell lots of loaves of my breads every week at our farmers' market. My customers love the flavor of my bread.

As far as electric vs.manual grain mills goes- manual mills tend to make a coarser flour than electric mills. There are models that do both.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Using freshly milled flour as you do, works.  If not used within a few hours, it is then best to age the flour for three weeks or more.

Jeff