The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Removing stones & dirt from wheatberries

SheriW's picture

Removing stones & dirt from wheatberries

I'm sorry if this has been covered already (and if so please just post the link to the subject), but I fail at searching. We grow our own wheat, and I find it very tedious to hand "rummage" through the wheat berries to cull out the stones and dirt. Is there something clever, without using water or buying another piece of expensive equipment, that I can do to make this job a little easier?

Thank you!


linder's picture

I share your pain, Sheri.  We get wheatberries from a local farmer and although the wheat berries go thru a sifter that gets the BIG pieces out, I still do hand  sifting through the berries to remove small rocks and plant material (burrs, wheat chaff, Johnson grass seeds etc.)  to protect my grain mill and get somewhat clean wheat flour . 


pmiker's picture

I  got a bucketful of wheat berries from a combine.  Some debris, grasshopper pieces, hulls and stuff were in with the wheat berries.  I set a fan up above an empty bucket and took a scoop from the full bucket and slowly poured it out in front of the fan into the empty bucket.  It's tedious but it works.  You may go back and forth between buckets a time or two.


Doc.Dough's picture

Put your fan up high so that the grain has a fair distance to fall - try to set it up so that the airspeed is uniform across the separation zone; slowly pour the grain over a flat edge through the fan flow; adjust your catch slot to retain only clean grain and reprocess everything that falls outside the slot. You will still have a few stones that match the grain in density and cross-section; the burrs and grass seed will blow away. After you get it fairly clean, spread it one kernel deep on a large flat surface with an edge that will retain it and tilt the flat to pack the grain. The remaining dark stones will jump out at you and you can pick them out by hand. It isn't easy, or fun, but it works reasonably well. You can also make cyclone separator but that is a graduate course.

Greg D's picture
Greg D

My wife grew up on a big wheat farm and they had a fanning mill to double or triple clean their own harvested wheat so that the wheat could be used for seed the following year without dirt and chaff clogging up the drills (planting machines).  There are a lot of old fanning mills around in rural parts of the US.  I like to attend farm auctions and you see fanning mills all the time.  Ebay has one or two right now selling for under $100 although I suspect freight would be significant and they will need some restoration and TLC.  Combines and stationary fanning mills operate on the principal of using a stream of air and one or more screens to separate the wheat from the chaff and stones.  If you are processing less than 100 pounds of wheat at a time you can probably get by with some sort of do-it-yourself fan setup as suggested in the above posts.  If you are processing larger quantities, I would look seriously at one of the old fanning machines.  If you do buy an old fanning machine, make sure it has screens suitable for cleaning wheat.  Different size screens are used for corn, soybeans, or whatever and you can't clean wheat on a machine that only has screens for soybeans or corn.

SheriW's picture

Thank you everybody! The fan process is what we used to initially separate the wheat from the chaff, so I can see that we need to just continue that process until we break it down even further. We're doing much less than 100 lbs, so while it would be fun to find a new piece of equipment, that's not really practical. We do live in a rural area, so knowing my fiance's penchant for finding working or fixable older farm equipment on craigslist, I wouldn't be surprised if he brought one home.