The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newby guide to home milling?

Kdanielspt's picture
Kdanielspt

Newby guide to home milling?

I have an electric grinder which I've only used three times. I've never soaked my grains or fermented or aged...you get the picture. Is there some sort of newby guide to all of these steps? Advice on where to buy a moisture gauge online/in the US (not sure of the correct term)? Thx in advance. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I just grind what I need, and use it.  I grind wheat, oats, rye, and barley straight from the metal cans, which are filled from the plastic storage buckets, which are in turn filled from the paper sacks in which the grain arrives at my house.  The freshly ground flour is used immediately.

shastaflour's picture
shastaflour

We do the same as MangoChutney. Any "soaking" that happens around here occurs after the bread is kneaded during a long overnight fermentation in the fridge. (Most of the loaves are sourdough.) I understand there are some benefits to using aged flour. On the other hand, some vital nutrients are lost during the aging process, so I guess it's a bit of a tossup.

As far as moisture content goes, it hasn't made a huge difference in my small-scale home baking because I always carefully watch the dough while adding flour.  Of course it changes from day to day depending on many factors including the moisture content of the flour, so it's never an exact amount. For a commercial baker, however, I'd imagine knowing the moisture content of the grains/flour would be critical in achieving a consistent product.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I'm a sourdough baker also.  My final dough is made of a pre-soak and a pre-ferment, both overnight on the counter-top.  What I heard was that you should either use freshly milled flour within three days or let it age two weeks before use.  Immediate use is the most convenient for us and avoids any possible deterioration of the nutrients in the grain.  It also removes any need for storage of flour, which would create another pile of metal cans, and these in the refrigerator.

I weigh my grains out more carefully than I do my liquids, because the final volume of the bread is dependent on that variable, so any seasonal variation in flour moisture is negligible compared with my somewhat slapdash additions of liquids to my recipes.  I would think that grain stored in closed containers would be pretty consistent in moisture content, and without ageing the flour shouldn't pick up very much moisture before use.  The main seasonal difference for me seems to be how much moisture evaporates from the dough during fermentation, due to different temperatures and humidities.

proth5's picture
proth5

There really are very few pieces of literature written for beginning home millers. Most of what I have seen published talks about mill selection and then assumes that you just feed the the grain through the mill and get flour.

Which is essentially correct for most home millers.

When you say "soaking" grains I assume that you are referring to "tempering" - which is a process of bringing the grain slowly up to a moisture content of about 13-14% to toughen the bran.  In general, home millers want to mill "whole grain" flour - so this step is completely unnescessary.  Simply mill the grain.

When you talk about "aging" I assume you are talking about the process of letting the freshly ground flour come in contact with air for certain periods of time to help improve its baking qualitities.  Again, for most home millers, this is not an issue.  You probably want to use your whole grain flour as soon as possible to retain its lovely flavor and the recommendations above are great ones.

As for fermenting the grains, this is not something I have done.  Some people grind spent grains from the brewing process.  Others sprout grains, dry them, and grind them.

My moisture meter is a Delmhorst G-7 from Scientific Equipment.  You can use any of these terms - or the phrase "Grain Moisture Meter" in your favorite search engine and find quite a few.  Mine was in the $500 range and a good grain moisture meter will not come cheap.  But, in fact, you probably don't need one and will wish to avoid that purchase.

If you are contemplating more advanced milling there are people on this site who have done it and there are blogs by myself and my old milling buddy "bwraith" that were posted in 2008 - you can use the search feature on this site to find them.  We spent some time with professional milling texts to come up with our milling methods.

Hope this helps.  I think that the newbie guide to milling is "just grind the grains and then bake" .

Happy Milling!

SheriW's picture
SheriW

Love the last sentence! I too just started milling my home-grown wheat, and was searching everywhere for information. That's the best advice I've read yet! "...just grind the grains and then bake."

Sheri

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

portion of the bread flour and autolyse the flour for 24 hours with small amounts 2 g each of diastaic and non diastic malt.  The bread just tastes and smells so much better.  I rarely grind all the flour for a loaf of bread and use either KA or other flours bought at the grocery store for the remainder.  My little old Krupp's coffee grinder can keep up with the 1-2 loaves of bread we bake no problem when we are only griding a 100 or 2oo g of the flour for a 400 g flour in the dough.

I would rather spend the money saved on an expensive grinder to buy the add ins like nuts, fruits, seeds etc that are expensive on their own.  The Brazil nuts for Andy's Brazil nut and  prune bread were $9.99 a pound and the prunes were $2.99 .  The 60 g each required for the 1,950 g loaf cost $1.70 all by themselves.  This is not cheap bread but boy is it good and I would rather make it then have to forgo it because I have a grinder.  Whole berries cost at least $1.19 a pound when I can get KA WWW or WW or their other flours for less than $5 for 5 pounds - store brands are half that.  But that is just me and I am a frugal person.

Others want the best tools to make the best bread and I say.... go for it..... being a libertarian about bread and most other things.  What ever floats your boat is OK with me.  After supplying ready milled flour in 50# bags to bakeries all over this country for decades, I can tell you you don't need  a grinder to make fine bread and neither do they.

If I baked more, was a pro and had unlimited funds then things would be different.  I would be living in Nice France and buying really good bread already made - just for my apprentice!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Wheat Montana brand whole berries cost $0.56/lb at WalMart in 25lb bags, in case you should want to gain the advantages of storing grain rather than flour and still remain frugal.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

though of WalMart.  Been there countless times and never saw 1 wheat berry anywhere much less a 25 pound sack of them.  If my apprentice starts buying berries in  25 # sacks we will need a mill :-)

Thanks

Spirit CZ's picture
Spirit CZ

 

Hello

Are any of you from Canada?  I just ordered a grain/flour mill (from the U.S.) but am having difficulty finding the wheat to grind into flour.  I have spent days on the internet searching for any Canadian companies that I can get supplies from but there doesn't seem to be any.  I can't even find dough enhancer or vital wheat gluten at the local grocery stores or bulk food store.  I suspect the shipping and Customs charges will be huge if I am able to order from  Pleasant Hill Grain or My Favorite Things via the internet.

I would also like to order the book "Cooking and Baking With Fresh Ground Flour:  Complete Grain Guide" but when I attempted to do so the order could not be processed because of shipping.

I have found "hard wheat kernals" at the "Bulk Barn."  I am assuming this is hard white wheat, which is a start.  But that is the extent of it.  I am very novice at this.  My experiene with bread baking is to throw the ingredients into the automatic bread maker and let it do the work.  I was looking forward to home milling and baking, but so far it has just given me a headache and I haven't even ground a grain.  I hope this is not a sign of things to come.

So if anyone knows of any Canadian suppliers, please let me know.

CZ

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

I was tossing the idea of a mill around - I have a nutribullet with a milling blade that I may try.  As for wheat berries - I saw them in Bulkbarn as well.  I buy my flour at bulkbarn but then found where (I think) they get their flour from ... Grain Process Enterprises ... here is the product list if you're interest,

http://wildernessreturn.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/grain-process-product-list-may-2011.pdf

 

Also, Bulkbarn does carry VWG, http://www.bulkbarn.ca/en-ca/products.html?product=514

 

HTH's

Spirit CZ's picture
Spirit CZ

Thanks for the info:

I will check out the link and and take a closer look in the Bulk Barn for VWG.  I did see the wheat berries.

I live in Belleville Ontario, which is a fairly small town.  I may have to go to the Bulk Barn in Kingston for a larger selection.

Ju-Ju-Beads's picture
Ju-Ju-Beads

I'm grinding in a Golden Grain stone grist mill using white wheat and corn for grits and cornmeal.  The cornmeal comes out just fine without sifting but I want to sift the finer particles out of my grits  and to try sifting some off the bran out of my wheat flour.  I've been reading about Proth5's sieves of various sizes and wondering which ones will be most useful and where to get them.   Suggestions?