The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question about home-milled wheat berries

JerrytheK's picture
JerrytheK

Question about home-milled wheat berries

I recall reading somewhere that one of the problems with industrially baked breads is the undisclosed additives that are needed because the flour goes straight from the mill into the industrial bakery without a required/needed rest.

I've been milling wheat berries at home, and then immediately making dough from the whole wheat flour.

So should I be milling the berries x hours or x days in advance and then making dough after an x hour/x day rest?

Thanks!

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

There is a period where the flour is called "green". 

I don't have the link handy, so I'm just going by memory.

Part 1, commercial mills:

White flour is bromated (or some other chemical) to quickly "age" it out of the green period.  Without this process of chemical aging, the mill or wholesaler would have to pay to have it sit around in storage.  Warehouses are not free, and if product sits around, time is money. It costs money to let things sit in inventory.

Part 2, Home millers:

The link said to use home-milled whole-grain-wheat flour within 3 days of milling, or else wait 2 weeks for some moisture and oil volatiles to evaporate.  The first 14 days it is "green".   

Why home milled is  still good for the first 3 days, but not days 4 through 14, I dunno.

--

Cultures for Health, www.culturesforhealth.com, sells sourdough starter, and somewhere in their instructions, it says that "green" home milled flour is generally too oily for the optimum feeding of starters.  They recommend letting home milled  flour sit out, but covered, so it can breath and "out gas" or "dry" for a while before using it to feed a starter.

I home-mill, and I have used green flour in both starters and in breads. Both within the first 3 days, and in days 4 through 14.  I should do a more detailed comparison and check performance and taste.

Google: green flour

 

JerrytheK's picture
JerrytheK

Exactly the info I was looking for!

I mill just enough for the batch of dough I'm making, usually 400g.

Now that it's cooled down in Denver, I'm going to rejuvenate my starter that's been sitting patiently in the refrigerator. I'll check out the Cultures for Health site and see how long I should let the green flour 'age.'

And I'll also ask Mr. Google.

 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Found their faq, 2nd question.  https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/sourdough/sourdough-starter-activation-feeding-faq/

Q. Can I use freshly ground flour to feed my sourdough starter? To bake sourdough bread?

A. Maybe. Some people find that using freshly ground flour is problematic. If that is the case, we recommend aging the flour by placing it in a bowl on the counter, covered lightly with a dish towel, for one or more weeks before using it to feed your sourdough culture. Once it is time to bake bread, use freshly ground flour as the flour ingredient in the bread recipe.

--

I had assumed it was mainly for evaporating oil volatiles, but have since learned elsewhere it also has to do with oxidation.  But as they say, their concern is for feeding the starter.  Fresh ground, right out of the mill, is fine for the bread, as we've all known.

 

TopBun's picture
TopBun

When I first started home milling three years ago, I delved into this question. The expert consensus was that there's no problem using fresh-milled flour immediately; that there might be some issue with using it after ~24 hours until it's aged a couple of weeks; but that since you have a mill at home, there's no reason not to just mill straight into the mixing bowl and not worry about it. That has certainly worked for me, and it works for the increasing number of local bread bakeries that mill their their own flour on site. 

Unrelated to aging of green flour, home millers do have to be more aware of the moisture level in the grain, especially when using fresh, regionally sourced heritage grain. I've often found that fresh milled local grain requires somewhat lower hydration than milling grain from larger, more centralized suppliers, so I add some of the water at mixing and the rest, if needed, after an autolyse.

Eric

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I re-read one of the links.  It's about "oxidation" too.  Apparently a bit of oxidation makes the dough perform better.

TopBun's picture
TopBun

Yes, and commercial local bakeries using fresh-milled flour sometimes use a tiny bit of ascorbic acid as an oxidizing agent to aid dough strength. I've played around with it in my home baking but never done a side by side comparison. I suspect the difference is small and I usually don't bother.  The amount to use is so small that I can't even weigh it on my gram scale that's sensitive to one-tenth of a gram.

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Simple answer to your question from our ~5 years of home milling multiple times/week for bread and pastries:  no. That is, “x” in your question equals zero. Fresh milled flour works wonderfully.  Every time.  From our experience at least. YMMV. 

Commercial millers/bakers operate under different constraints than we do. 

Tom

HansB's picture
HansB

I agree. As soon as the flour is milled it starts to deteriorate, I add fresh milled flour right to the water for dough making.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

@TopBun

>The expert consensus was that there's no problem using fresh-milled flour immediately; that there might be some issue with using it after ~24 hours until it's aged a couple of weeks;

Yes, I think we're all on the same page about using milled flour immediately.  It's that intermediate period, 2-3 day old, up to 2 week old, that I have questions about.  I have used home milled flour in all three periods: 1-3 days, 4-14 days, and 14+ days,  I have not done side by side tests.  So all this is jibber-jabber on my part for the time being.  

> but that since you have a mill at home, there's no reason not to just mill straight into the mixing bowl and not worry about it.

Except it's not as easy as that for all of us.  I do not have a motorized mill constantly sitting on my kitchen counter, ready to go.  I  cook for one.  And my milling is a two step process: coarse cracking in a hand crank Shule grain mill (which must be set up, clamped to the edge of the counter, used, taken down, cleaned, put away, then clean up all the bits and flour dust it throws out on the surrounding counter), then run it through a Vitamix blender, ~2 cups at a time. Then clean the blender.

I bought a Wondermill brand Wonder Jr, Deluxe, hand crank, but again....  take out, clamp the base,  assemble/set up, adjust/test/adjust/test,  mill, make a mess, disassemble, clean the parts, put away, clean the counter.  

But,  (while I normally like to fancy myself one of the HE-MEN of the Universe [snort, snort, chuckle]) setting this hand-crank mill to medium flour requires an enormous amount of torque and strength on that handcrank, so I end up doing a Two-Pass mill job, even with this device, a first pass rough cracking, and a second pass finer setting.

Bottom line: I like to mill between 2 and 3 kilos of flour in a batch.  And therefore, because I'm baking for one, mostly doing one day's worth of pita or bannock or tortillas, when I do bake, the question arises: 

"If I don't use the flour within 1 to 3 days, is there a "window" in which I should wait, and therefore have two batches of flour going?"  

---

And Thanks for bringing up the Vit C.  Gonna experiment with that!

TopBun's picture
TopBun

My assumptions certainly got me into trouble, didn't they? I see your problem. Some judicious Googling on home milling and green flour should help - as I have one of those cushy countertop electric mills, I can afford to be lackadaisical about the particulars, viz. my carefree comment about just milling straight into the bowl. Come the apocalypse, though, you will be having the last laugh with your manual Wondermill while my electric Komo mill will be merely a countertop ornament. 

While I can't speak with authority on the 2-3 week storage with respect to dough performance vis a vis "green flour," you might consider freezing your flour in an airtight container, if practical, to minimize deterioration of the oily germ and its vitamins. I doubt the loss is great, but it should help preserve flavor and maximum nutrition.

 

 

JerrytheK's picture
JerrytheK

Thanks for all the comments on this topic. The information/knowledge is more complicated and broader than one would guess at first blush.

I do have an electric mill, so it's easy to grind the wheat berries for one batch of dough.

I'm now wondering about something else though. I bought some whole-wheat flour from a local 'artisanal' bakery. It was unbolted, and recommended to be frozen/refrigerated after purchase.

I wonder if it was freshly ground, or if they let it age for two weeks?

Regardless, when used, the resulting baked bread was very good.

Justanoldguy's picture
Justanoldguy

I suspect the recommendation for refrigeration/freezing is related to the fact that the germ was included and the cold storage was to delay its turning rancid. I'm in the use-it-right-away column. I use the Mockmill that attaches to my KitchenAid mixer and the flour I grind for bread goes directly into the bowl so I can use it at its peak of flavor and nutrition. I do add a little Ascorbic Acid to the flour in order to enhance gluten formation because the bran theoretically interferes with development and some of the volatile compounds, thiols, also inhibit gluten development. At least that's the theory. I primarily bake sandwich loaves using 80% whole wheat and 20% whole rye (most of the rye is in the starter). I'm not trying to bake artisan loaves so there's no need to develop flawless gluten structure for the creation of lots of holes and complex crumbs.