The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to buy Red Fife Wheat if one doesn't live in the US?

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

How to buy Red Fife Wheat if one doesn't live in the US?

I live in Hong Kong and the whole grain flour selection here is not comparable to those in western countries. It is rather difficult for me to buy ancient grains/flour like emmer and kamut but it is still possible to get them online at reasonable prices.

However, for heirloom varieties it's a different story. I looked up at Breadtopia's website and I was excited when I knew they ship their Red Fife Wheat flour to HK. But when I looked at the shipping fee: US$50...the 3 lb flour costs only US$5! Do anyone know how/where to buy these less common grain at a reasonable price? Either the whole berry/flour would be great.

Thanks a lot,

Elsie

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Maybe you can check with a local Artisan Bakery. They may sell you some flour or berries. Or possibly be able to point you to a source.

I really hope you are able to find a workable solution.

Dan

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

Thanks for the suggestion though, I'll try to seek out those few bakeries to see if I can get some clues.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

but maybe an australian supplier would be cheaper - australia produces good hard wheat I believe.

Leslie

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

I'm not familiar with Australian wheat so can you offer some suggestions? 

Thanks anyway!

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

and it seems they don’t ship internationally. sadly, cant offer any other thoughts except maybe one of the Australian TFL ers might know.

MJ Sourdough's picture
MJ Sourdough

Try www.fieldstoneorganics.ca they are based on British Columbia (Canada) might be a bit cheaper for delivery to HK. 

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

It's really difficult to get your hands on whole grains here... Thanks for the suggestion anyway.

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

I'm using Mockmill for homemade whole grain flour and trust me I've done an extensive search for sellers...unfortunately in all cases the shipping is horribly expensive. I'm sure you have found Bob's red mill grains on iHerb and I'm mostly sourcing from them as they're the only seller that we have easy access to. For einkorn and emmer I bit the bullet and bought 10 pounds each from Breadtopia and the shipping cost was equivalent to, if not higher than, the price of the grains, but they should last me quite a long while. I have thought about ordering from Breadtopia and shipping to a forwarding service followed by seafreight to HK and if you would like to try that some time later, I am happy to join up and we can see if it'll be more cost-effective :)

To MJ: thanks for the link! I tried their site but they only accept a billing address based in Canada though.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

Yes I did learn about iHerb when I was searching for suppliers. I'm actually planning to order some kamut and barley flour from it. 

Wow, you must be baking much more often than I am that you dare ordering 10 pounds of grains. I only bake one small loaf (315 g whole grain flour) weekly. I consume closer to 500 g though since I make pancakes and other goods as well. The main problem is whole grains don't last that long in the warm kitchen and my house doesn't make enough room for a few bags of 10 pound grains (I'm already keeping more than 20 small boxes of whole grains, legumes and flours...along with 10 more bags of dried fruits and nuts). 

Could you explain a bit on your last point? I'm new to ordering things online so I get a bit confused. Do you mean shipping through third parties like MyUS.com? 

That being said, I might lose my mind one day and order straight from Breadtopia... 

 

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

Yes WG flour had a short shelf life but the unmilled grains can be stored indefinitely in a dry condition. That's how I got into home milling as the whole wheat flour we get in HK is really unexciting. I usually bake at least 3-4 loaves a week but still for your usage a home mill would be a great addition, if you have the space for it. (The Mockmill is not that big)

Yes, about the last point, myUS or other similar services offer sea freight instead of air which tremendously lowers the costs but if you are looking to buy flour there is a risk of spoilage (hence having a mill becomes more essential...) And the quantity has to be large enough to be worth it.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

There seems to be a few online sources for it but I'm not sure about the international shipping fee. I really want to get a mill but I know I shouldn't spend so much money at once as a university student. Also, my mom is already complaining about me buying too many kitchen gadgets...

And where/how do you store such a large amount of grains? It's pretty humid here that I worry it might be infected by insect pests. It happened to me once so now I make sure all grains are frozen for at least 4 days before storing them in air-tight containers at room temperature.

Lastly, do you know how much less would it cost if shipping by sea? Since you still mentioned 'the quantity has to be large enough to be worth it' ?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Are there any bread forums or bread baking groups in your area? Maybe you could get together with other like minded bakers and consolidate an order.

After reading about your problems getting grain and flours, I’m a little ashamed. I live in the southern part of the United States and I am envious of those in my country who are close to great mills and sources for berries. My shipping charges are twice or more the cost of the products. But I’m sure nothing like your cost.

Berries are are great way to go, if you have the equipment. As previously stated, they will store for years.

I sincerely wish you well. Hopefully you will find a workable solution.

Dan

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

I haven't been paying attention to local bread forum but to my knowledge, most bakers here are more interested in Japanese type soft bread. Even if they are into artisan bread, I doubt there would be many who are crazy enough to sprout and mill their own flour.

You don't have to feel ashamed at all! There has to be someone who gain access to those grains first. Then the supply would meet with growing demand one day. You have an important role to play here!

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. I'm definitely not giving up!

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Search the internet in your country. Some bakery must be baking Artisan breads. Even if they are far away, they might be willing to ship some of their supply to you. After all, Artisan Baker’s should have a kindred soul :)

Dan

Oh, if no one in your country bakes Artisan breads, maybe you or some other enterprising person could make a hefty profit doing so. Good bread is special...

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

There are indeed some high-end artisan bakeries and I'm sure they're making a huge profit. The bread they sell are super expensive, a loaf about the size of mine (315 g flour) could cost US$30-40... No locals really buy them, they target at westerners who work here. There are plenty of western professionals who of course earn really high income. My jaw always drops to the floor when I see them tossing boxes of US$12 berries into their shopping cart without even looking at the price tag!

Back to the bakeries, I truly have no clues where their grains are sourced from. I'm not sure if they're as picky as I am. Usually it's commercial top secret if it's a multinational bakery but I'll see if there's any small artisan bakeries. I guess they should be the ones with the kinder soul.

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

I started baking bread pretty late and I'm not living with mom so no problem with her nagging :)

I ordered directly from their official site, as they have options of choosing between UK / US plugs. Shipping was 40 Euros which was fair considering the weight (20 pounds), but allow a slow transit of 2 weeks as they use a cheaper version of DHL over in Germany...kinda like standard post mail and not the DHL express.

If things start to accumulate I just put them under the dining table in the worst case scenario. But other than the two bags of einkorn/emmer, I only keep a few pounds of red wheat, white wheat, spelt and kamut as it's easy to order more from iHerb. Yes freezing them for a day or two (probably 4 days is an overkill lol) is the way to go and it's kept my store-bought flour pest-free.

One of the forwarders listed their price as $250 per 0.1 cubic meter. Would have to ask Breadtopia how much grain they can put in that space and I'm sure they'd be happy to try to answer that question upon request.

 

To Dan: when I got my Mockmill a few months back I did an extensive search for local home millers and I came upon ZERO information, so I am not sure if anyone is actually doing this in Hong Kong. Even sourdough is a relatively new thing here and there certainly aren't more than a handful of people who would spend much time working on it at home. A lot of locals adore Japanese bread machines for their convenience (and I suspect they prefer the sweet and fluffy bread to sourdough anyway). When I tell someone I bake my own bread, the inevitable question is "which bread machine are you using?"

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

So I guess you're ordering Bob's Red Mill's red and white wheat, spelt and kamut?

I go to great lengths to ensure that horrible pest incident would never happen again. I learned how important those procedures are the hard way!

It's HK$250 right? 0.1 cubic meter translates to 100 L (about 174 pounds of grains if totally filled, but of course impossible) which is pretty reasonable. So does it mean we just have to pay a total $250 for the shipping of that quantity of grains? That's so much better than the US$50/HK$400 for just 3 pounds. I believe it'd be possible to order less than 0.1 cubic meter?

 

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

I would be curious to hear how you got started in sourdough baking :)

 

"So I guess you're ordering Bob's Red Mill's red and white wheat, spelt and kamut?"

-Yep, that's all I can find on iHerb. No rye berries, to my disappointment.

 

"I believe it'd be possible to order less than 0.1 cubic meter?"

- I think so, it's just the minimum order. here's the link.

https://www.ezygo.com.hk/blank-5

I'm not sure what exactly they mean by surcharge of $5/kg for anything over 30 kg though.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

I think they mean if you want to ship 40 kg of grains, regardless of its volume as long as it's within 0.1 cubic meter, you'll have to pay $300.

I think maybe we can try requesting high-ends supermarkets like citysuper and olivers to offer grains like kamut and rye. They're already selling Bob's Red Mills' oats, spelt, wheat etc. so maybe they'd order other grains as well if someone makes a request.

You might not believe me but I honestly can't remember how I started baking (I've been baking for one year only and it's only been half a year since I start making sourdough)... I guess I came across some great bread one day but are not willing to pay so much for it? One thing I'm certain though: it's the enthusiastic bakers on this sites that drag me into this baking craze.

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

and seriously I can't remember how I made the shift from yeasted bread to sourdough either. It might have been the TFL folks who infected me, come to think of it! Love these forums and this is actually the first time I posted, being a bit shy before, as I am still learning the ropes and making mistakes. 

 

"I think they mean if you want to ship 40 kg of grains, regardless of its volume as long as it's within 0.1 cubic meter, you'll have to pay $300.

I think maybe we can try requesting high-ends supermarkets like citysuper and olivers to offer grains like kamut and rye. They're already selling Bob's Red Mills' oats, spelt, wheat etc. so maybe they'd order other grains as well if someone makes a request."

Ah that makes sense. Okay time to plan a round of Breadtopia shopping then. Let me know if you do try and approach citysuper about carrying more types of grains! It's where I go for my white flour as well.

Btw, do you know any other home SD baker in HK?

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

So, no I don't know any other SD bakers (you're the first!). I don't think we'd even know each other's existence without this site.

I might make the request when I go to citysuper next time (maybe on one weekday next week). Or do you think it's better to just send a email or make a call?

''this is actually the first time I posted''

No wonder I've never heard from you until then!

 

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

Of having another friend of friend who makes SD and my friend graciously introduced us to each other. We share notes on any new baking problem we come up. Maybe some day we will gather enough people to form a group!

 

I have emailed CS before and they are quick to reply and helpful.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

Can't agree more on the comment on the bread machine! I baked a loaf of sourdough bread as a gift for my university teacher 2 weeks ago. The first thing she asked was 'do you have to bake it?' ???? I was so confused and answered 'of course you have to bake it,' It's bread after all, right??? She said,'I mean you are not using a bread machine? You baked it the traditional way?' like baking in a bread machine is the main stream and oven baking is already out.

Seriously, how can one achieve the effect of oven baking with steam with a bread machine?