The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Endosperm separation

cheftoph's picture

Endosperm separation

Ok, so I must be missing a fundamental part of the sieving process because I can't seem to create a durum wheat "farina-grade" (also known as "extra-fancy") flour at home. Let me start by saying that my end goal is not necessarily a flour milled purely from endosperm- I understand this is not realistic. I would like it to be 70-80% endosperm so that I can use it for pasta. Frankly, I have the money to invest in the equipment necessary to achieve this goal as the equipment I currently own may simply be inadequate. I'm starting with durum wheat semolina berries of high quality. I have a Kitchen Aid KGM grain mill and  #35, #60, and #80 sieves. On a fundamental level, what I don't understand is how to sift the bran out without it passing through with the endosperm. If I mill the berries with a corse grind almost nothing will pass through the sieve although some of the bran has clearly been separated from the endosperm. If I grind the berries at a finer grind then everything is ground to the same consistency and it passes through the sieve together (essential becoming whole wheat pasta flour). How do the commercial operations have such accurate separation of these parts? Does anyone know if theres a machine(s) that are in-between home milling and commercial operations that I might buy. My intention is to mill said flour for my restaurant which might go through 20-30 lbs/day so it might be financially feasible to buy such equipment. But I'd first like to achieve good results at home. Are my efforts in vain. Please advise.....

Thanks in advance!


suave's picture

If you don't mind my asking, if you need 20-30 lb a day, and if you have a restaurant (i.e. an account with wholesale supplier) why not order it?   But if you insist on milling such amounts in the house, with the quality you require you probably should forget KA and start thinking about something of this sort.

cheftoph's picture

That's a totally reasonable question. Durum Wheat Semolina- even the highest quality- has often been milled weeks or months before it's purchased. Because it's one of two ingredients in pasta (the other is completely neutral) I believe that it should be treated with the utmost respect. And that's to say nothing about the nutritional benefits. I could very easily buy flour through a purveyor that has been milled by Caputo or a more artisan brand but I like the idea of milling that morning, making pasta that afternoon, and eating it that evening. Definitely not your average red sauce joint- not necessary better but, a different concept for sure.

charbono's picture

In the case of bread wheat, the grain is tempered by adding some steam.  This toughens the bran and makes it more flexible, so it comes off in bigger flakes than the endosperm particles.  The sieve catches the bran.  Milling durum wheat is probably similar.


cheftoph's picture

I attempted to temper the grains with water, adding 5% of the total weight, every few hours till they seemed soft. The problem then, and this may be a result of the mechanics of my mill, was that the moisture eventually clogged the interworking. Also, the endosperm at that point are too big to fit through even a large kitchen sieve, let alone a #20. Maybe a better mill and less fine sieve. Thanks for the comments, guys. Has anyone out there succeeded at this?

cheftoph's picture

Ok. Questions of whether or not its a good/necessary/or possible idea, is there anyone who can help me with the logistics of producing flour of this consistency at home. Forget that it durum wheat for pasta. Lets say I'm making pastry flour for cookies. How does one go from berry to endosperm- regardless of time and money.


proth5's picture

from someone who has actually milled "close to white" flour. (See very, very old blogs from proth5 and bwraith)

Your KitchenAid mill - well, it's a joke for what you are trying to do. We're talking big money and quality mills.

First, if you have a lot of cash - buy a roller mill. It's not something in my budget, but I am sure there are small mills that get used in laboratories, etc. that might serve your purpose. Be diligent with your internet search. I don't have a quick reference, so I'll leave the searching to you.

Be aware that this is a very different type of mill than any mill available for use in the home - so "doing it at home" is in no way the same as buying a roller mill. You are either in or out on this. With a roller mill, you can with knowledge and practice, absolutely get flour the same as commercial - because it is a commercial mill.

Ok, let's assume that you don't want to/can't buy a small roller mill. I did mine with a hand turned metal burr mill - which I am sure with some extra trouble you could motorize. The important thing is that you can get good adjustment, from "rough crack" to powder fine. This will be important. I used a Diamant, which, since you have the money should not shock you with its price. I have also read about and studied the "Grainmaker" mill - which might be superior to the Diamant. Most home stone mills do not have enough adjustment although bwraith had a Meadowes, I believe, and it worked for him. Heartland Mill uses a stone mill and sifts their flour (see below on sifting) but I am not sure that will produce what you want.

Now let's talk tempering. The tempering process gradually brings the entire wheat berry to a uniform moisture level. You will need a grain moisture meter. Mine is a Delmhorst. They run around $500. You need to measure the moisture of the wheat as it is delivered. Then you will add very small amounts of water and tumble the grains to distribute the water to raise the moisture level about 1% per 24 hours. The big boys do this with steam, but there is a world of discussion on the virtues of a slow tempering process. You will bring the moisture level to no higher than 14%. This is most emphatically not an issue of soaking the grain so that you have wet grain, it is a matter of adding and equalizing the moisture in the wheat berry. The grain will look wet when the water is first applied, but will absorb it and will feel dry when you bring it to the mill. Use your moisture meter. Do not temper without it. This process will toughen the bran so that it be more resistant to the mill than the rest of the berry.

Now we talk milling and sifting. Sieves are fine, but if you are talking any kind of volume (and you have the money), you will want an eccentric sifter. These have a number of screens and will be shaking and sifting the milled grain into various sizes. You can obtain these - with custom sieve sizes - from Pleasant Hill Grain. You may wish to experiment with manual sifting until you feel you have a good handle on the sizes you will need. Everyone asks me for exact sizes and I just can't give them to you. I know what worked for me, but that may not work for you.

Now comes the tricky part. In a roller mill various gaps and corrugation designs can mill the grain very accurately - one pass will strip off the bran, one the "clear" flour, the rest various grades of patent flour. With a burr mill, you have to do that and you will never be exactly accurate. What you will need to do is adjust the burrs on your mill so that you crack the grain to the right size - whatever that may be. If (and that's a big "if") you have done everything correctly, you will see that a lot of the bran will come away from the endosperm in large flakes (they will be slightly translucent and will actually be very beautiful.). Not all of it will, but a lot of it. This can be sifted away from the rest of the grain (and sorry, I can't tell you exactly what size of sieve to use because this is a very variable process) and taken out of the milling process. The remaining grain can be re milled (more finely each time), sifting each time, until you have the desired result. Another approach is to just mil a lot of grain and sift. Some of the grain will be ground as finely as desired on the first run and you will get a number of streams which you can use, re mill, or remove from the process.

It's a very variable, very "hands on" process, but it can be done. You will not get nearly the extraction rate of endosperm that you would with a roller mill, but you will get something.

You probably will want to age the flour if it close to white.

If cost is not an object, I am told by small scale millers that the equipment to test Falling Number is the most valuable of all the laboratory equipment. Then, I might go for a Chopin Alveograph. There are also laboratories that will test your flour for you (for a fee) - here is a link to one of them .

What you are undertaking is a big deal. (You might want to invest in some professional milling texts, which are fairly hefty in both weight and price.) I will neither encourage or discourage you from doing it and I won't be able to answer questions like "what should my mill settings be" because it just isn't that specific, but it you want to discuss further, please send me a Personal Message from this site.

Have fun!