The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

SF/Bay Area source for coarse rye flour

mikewasinnyc's picture
mikewasinnyc

SF/Bay Area source for coarse rye flour

I've been baking a Russian rye using a recipe that I found online on a Russian sourdough site - basically trying to recreate the taste of a bread that I loved when living in Russia as a student in the early 90s. They still make it in name, but alas even in Russia it's hard to find those fresh-baked loves anymore.

In any case, I came close until I managed to get hold of some Russian rye flour and bingo! My wife (who is Russian, I took more than a taste for their bread back with me) said it took her back to her childhood. This near 100% rye with this flour is a keeper.

In general, I use Giusto's flour that I buy locally. The Russian rye was noticeably more coarse, although nothing remotely close to a pumpernickel. Does anyone know where i might find something similar here in the Bay Area? I could also order online, but would prefer to avoid it if possible.

For anyone with a bit of Russian who is curious enough to try, the recipe is here: http://sourdough.ru/orlovski/ . Enough interest and I'll translate. The bread comes with a bit of history - that "1962" is a reference to the year in which the recipe was developed in a Soviet test kitchen, in part to make the most of poor quality flour. The bread and the scientist who developed it went on to win medals.

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Mike,

Now you have as defensible an excuse as anyone could need for diving into home grain milling :-).  I'm sure Giusto's sells some fine organic rye berries that you could turn into just what you're looking for.  That bread on sourdough.ru looks terrific and undoubtedly tastes amazing -- this coming from someone who's only fed rye to his starter but never to himself.  An uncanny constellation of recent omens (the latest being your post) is suggesting perhaps it's time to rethink that.

Another possibility:  I could mill the rye for you, at least for a couple of runs at the recipe.  But if you're shopping Giusto's, you're probably closer to Petaluma than San Jose.  I'm a lot closer to the South Bay than Sonoma.

Other than those suggestions, I can't be optimistic about your finding such a specialty flour, in even as culturally diverse a metropolis as the bay area.  Russian delis?  I have some Ukrainian neighbors - I could ask them.  Hell, they just had a bloody german shepherd puppy flown over for them from Kiev.  You should at least be able to get a bag of flour airlifted out for you!

Good luck!

Tom

David R's picture
David R

Even with Russian delis, ... Nearly everyone appreciates "a taste of home", or enjoys food from various parts of the world - but not everyone wants to work just as hard in the kitchen as Grandmother did. 🙂 So not every deli will automatically have flour. However, they certainly may know where to get some, so don't totally give up on them.

mikewasinnyc's picture
mikewasinnyc

there are a few that I go to for those “essentials” like pickled tomatoes and smoked fish - will post here if I find flour. Just seems so crazy to ship something like flour around the world - reminds me of when Fairways in NYC used to fly in Russian bread every day. $8 for a loaf seemed expensive back then .... now, not so much ....

mikewasinnyc's picture
mikewasinnyc

.... although my wife also caught on as she quickly said that I have to get rid of something if I’m to buy a new appliance. She knows how hard that can be....

Should I start the conversation now about which one to buy?

I might take you or @fillmatic up on the offer to see what home grinding really entails before I take the plunge, though. It sounds like a commitment (and I hear that I’ll need ear plugs). Thanks for this and the suggestions! 

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Everyone in America has a piece of exercise equipment collecting dust somewhere.  Swap that out for a mill to please your wife :-).

Search this site and do visit Pleasant Hill Grain about mills and milling.  fwiw, I have a Komo Fidibus XL that I chose because it's milling rate is higher than some, with the possible (but not actual, to me) downside that it heats up the flour a bit in transit.  So I keep ~10# of hard white and hard red berries in the freezer at any given time.  One pass makes fabulous flour and I haven't sifted any since I shelved my Kitchen Aid KGM milling accessory.  Don't waste your money on one of those.  It was the only reason I ever used that mixer and served well as a beginners mill, but once you have a 'real' mill there's no going back.  The flavor of your bread (and pastries!) will be majorly improved and I can only imagine how fresh milled rye bread would taste.  A great temptation, that is.

I love the sound of this Harvest House in Concord.  Pretty far removed from 95033 though and we don't get up that way ever.  We frequent Staff of Life in Santa Cruz -- a full sized, full service independent nat foods supermarket (with the best international cheese array this side of Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry Bldg) and they happily special order big and small sacks of any org grain I've needed.  Occasionally I've mailordered from Giustos when SoL can't get something.

Good luck and ask if you want to know more.

Tom

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

 I’m the opposite. I began sifting after getting my Komo mail and the sifter attachment. It’s a pain to use but sifting out the hard bits to feed and be softened in the levain (credit dabrownman) is something I do essentially every time now. 

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

In San Francisco, Rainbow Grocery has pumpernickel grind, which has a perfectly milled, even coarseness.  The Mill/Josey Baker has whole grain flours, but I don't know if they have coarse rye.  In the east bay, The Food Mill in Oakland has coarse rye, which is more like what I get when I mill my own.  I don't think Berkeley Bowl has coarse rye, but I could be wrong.

I'm in Alameda, and I'd be happy to grind you some and demonstrate home milling.  I actually have a bunch of coarse rye from sifting that I milled a week ago.  Message me if you're interested.

mikewasinnyc's picture
mikewasinnyc

(sorry that just rolled out...) 

kidding aside, I actually got a copy of the rye baker from my local library to check it out after seeing that you’ve been baking some of those recipes. I’m in SF - really appreciate the offers from you guys to see home milling in practice. I’ll message separately to see what works. Food mill in Oakland sounds like it’s worth a look, too.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

if you’re in SF Rainbow will work great. Get the pumpernickel flour there and maybe some dark rye flour, which is the next best thing to whole rye. You might also check The Mill to see if they have fresh ground rye. I know there are other SF folks on here. 

But I’m happy to demonstrate for you. 

Phil

 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

will save you a lot of frustration.  I use home-milled rye flour to make Baltic rye bread.  To do so, you will need rye berries and a grain mill.  

 

Rye berries

Giustos Vita-Grain carries 25-lb organic rye berries.  To save on shipping, contact Giustos for a vendor near you. Ask the vendor to order your berries along with its regular Giustos order.  Pick up at the vendor when its order arrives, and you pay 🅾🅾🅾 shipping.

Qa@giustos.com 

or 

650 873 6566

 

Grain mill

Kitchenaid's grain mill attachment does a lousy job grinding fine flour, but it is perfect for grinding coarse rye flour/meal. It's a less expensive alternative to buying a regular mill, if you already have a Kitchenaid mixer.

 

Yippee

mikewasinnyc's picture
mikewasinnyc

wow. Great tip on the shipping though. the berries never go bad right? How much flour does that make?

joe_n's picture
joe_n

Harvest House, 2395 MONUMENT BLVD.

CONCORD, CA 94520; (925) 421-0898organic rye berries -$0.99/lb  I drive out to the store and pick up the 50 lb sack of wheat 3 times a year.Rye-only 5-10 lbs at a time.It is worth it!  They give a further discount when buying by the sack. I use a Komo grinder but the Mockmill might grind finer.  It is half the cost too.
joe_n's picture
joe_n

Please translate the recipe. It looks superb!

Yippee's picture
Yippee

They last forever😄😄😄, I was told, but verify with the scientists on the forum. If you can source the flour you need in SF, good for you. I wouldn't mill if I can buy because milling and storing those berries are extra work for my busy schedule, but my choices are limited.