January 28, 2020 - 10:22am
Is 60 mesh too small for flour?
Is 60 mesh too fine for flour? I am using a 50 now but wondering if a 60 or higher might be suitable for a reasonable return of fine flour.
I am considering a shaker and have the option of a 40, 60 screen combination or a 30, 50 screens. Here is the unit I am considering.
It seems to me that 60 is pretty fine and you will be losing a lot of flour if you are only keeping the #60 pass through.
I have #40 and #50 hand sieves and mainly use only the #40. I view the pass through as roughly an 85% extraction "brown" flour.
Occasionally I'll use the #50 to get a whiter flour. Normally I will also be adding some roller milled white as well to the mix, so I can play the tune by varying the percentage of that.
Lance, I was wondering how fine is commercial flour? Maybe I’ll run some through the 50 screen and see what it doesn’t pass through. That would be interesting. It would be nice on occasion to try baking with such flour. I know it won’t duplicate roller milling. #50 flour is very nice. It is also nice to be able to collect bran, middlings, and fine flour, which can then be mixed in any proportions I chose.
The reason I posted the question is because I may buy a shaker sieve. It comes with 40, 60 or 30, 50. I already have a 20 & 50 classifier that I think can be altered to work in combination with the existing screens. If the 60 is not too fine and I can get my screens to work, I could end up with 20, 40, 50, & 60 options. They could be used together or in any combination desired. The unit claims continuous operation, so it could be setup on the back porch and left alone to do it’s thing. The unit weighs less than 15 lbs.
Have you seen this post? It may interest you.
Roller mill produced flour is a completely different flour from stone ground flour. Go read about how they work before you try to compare the output with a stone ground and screen sifted product.
Gradual reduction milling was originally developed for millstones. The modern notion of "stone-ground" flour as gritty whole grain product milled in one pass is not based on reality and history.
The short answer is that you should expect store-bought white flour to go through the #60 sieve completely.
Last time when I followed your thread, I bought a grain mill. Today I bought a sieve shaker! ???
It was just listed a few days ago. No reviews yet.
You’re correct, Dave. It is a risk for sure. But it seems that one Chinese company is making theseand many companies are distributing them. They are all identical.
It is a gamble on my part, for sure.
If you find any info, good or bad, please let me know.
Whenever you see a VSERGRTJ sort of brand on Amazon it means that you are dealing with a Chinese distributor, often shipping directly from China. Amazon is awash in this stuff.
That looks good. I only see the 30, 50 option on Amazon? I too like the #40 as i prefer 85% extraction.
Hans, it seems that these units are sold by many companies. Here is a short list of shakers with various screen options. I am most comfortable purchasing with Amazon.
They are new to Amazon. Found one unit with 2 ratings. They liked the shaker, but commented that it was small. 12 x 12 x 14 inches. That is a plus for me. The actual screens are 11.8” wide.
It would be nice to have one!
Since we are on the subject of sifting flour, this video made be on interest. It is a great way to use a massager to sift flour.
Use THIS LINK for best viewing.
Wish I could provide a "like." That is ingenious.
Thank you again, I love these sieves. For now I'm not measuring weights, just going by feel and taste of the flours in the #30 and #50. Calling a "T85" the 37% Bob's WW passed through #30 then #50 joined to the 63% of Central Mills Honeybee. So far, results have been really good.
As they say, "First World problem." All we really need is a stone bowl and a big stick.
I am so thankful for modern conveniences.
I have tested 50, 60, and 70 screens to sift flour milled with the Mockmill at its finest setting, and obtained the following extraction rates (mean plus/minus standard deviation, numbers based on more that 10 sifts for each screen # using a variety of hard wheats):
#50: 90.1% ± 2.0%
#60: 76.7% ± 2.5%
#70: 76.0% ± 2.7%
The material retained by #50 looks mostly bran by its flaky appearance. #60 and #70 also retain more granular, brown/red particles which I assume are the outer layers of the endosperm.
Using #50 is very fast using a screen of 10 inch diameter (about 2 minutes for 500g flour). #60 is 2-3 times slower, and I no longer bother with #70.
Dario, thanks for submitting your findings.
But some of it is shocking. You must be using a shaker. “2 minutes for 500g flour through a 50”? That sounds super fast. If you are using a mechanical devices, please let me know what it is.
” #50: 90.1% ± 2.0%
#60: 76.7% ± 2.5%
#70: 76.0% ± 2.7%”
I can see why the #70 is not used. There is a huge difference in extraction between your 50 & 60.
I really appreciate your information. If you have more experience to share, please do so.
Update - Dario, I found another post where you seem to indicate that you are using your 8” sieves by hand. You must know something that I don’t. I use 11” sieves and 500g would take me an eternity by hand. Please give me the scoop. I must be missing something. I use THIS METHOD and can’t begin go sift as fast as you say. With a mechanical shaker, I clocked 1 minute 39 seconds to sift 100g with a 50.
I must admit I never timed my sifts. The 2 minutes figure I gave on my previous post was an estimate based on my observation that sifting with #50 is fast and not a stopper for me. #60 on the other hand is rather slow and I seldom bother with. I do shake by hand, but I am en enthusiastic shaker. I will time it next time I sift and report - for now take my timing as a rough estimate only.
Thanks Dario. It would take me at least an 45 minutes (estimate) to hand sift 500g of finely milled grain through a 50 sieve by hand. Although the time would depend upon how thoroughly the grain was sifted. Meaning you may consider the grain completely sifted while I may think it needs more shaking to be completely sifted. But your extraction percentage indicates very thorough sifting.
I'm not trying to call you out or insinuate that you are wrong. I am truly interested in learning. It looks like you have spent considerable time with this.
Question - have you baked bread with only the sifted flour from the 50? If so, how would you compare thta breda to others made for middlings and some or all bran.
Don't worry I don't think you are trying to insinuate anything (and I have seen your posts in other threads and I know you are a curious learner). I don't think that it ever took me 45 minutes for sifting even at #60 (my best estimate for #60 is maybe 20+ minutes). But I definitely went at it longer the first few times because I didn't know when to stop and I kept moving the sifter to a new bowl to see if I could get more material through. But now I have a good visual feeling for when it is OK to stop.
Dario, in your opinion would you prefer a 30, 50, or a 40, 60 if you were using a electric shaker? I want to separate bran, middlings, and fines.
I am yet to learn a way to substantially reduce the size of the bran. Tried re-milling, and also pulverizing in a mortar and pestle. The bran seems unaffected. Most breads will be baked 100% extraction. I am thinking about using the bran to coat to top. This way it gets incorporated, but does interfere with the gluten development. My only concern with this is burnt bran on the crust.
I’ve been sifting for years, but not on a regular basis. I think another time test is in order. I’ll base it on 500 grams. With 11” classifiers I see no reason why I couldn’t sift near your time range. To verify completion (not over sift) I can calculate the extraction. If the grain can be sifted in your time frame a shaker is not needed.
Are you putting the whole 500g grain in the sieve at one time?
Thanks for your input.
Dan- sorry for the long delay. I finally made a loaf with sifted flour (I prefer doing whole grains or mixing with AP flour if I want a lighter loaf. I sifted 300g of hard white wheat through a #50 screen in 45s (extrapolating to 75s for 500g). My setup is bowl-screen-lid. The lid helps with a vigorous shake. I load the all the milled flour in the sieve at the same time, I find it more efficient. I think an important point in timing is knowing when to stop. After a few times one gets a good feeling for what the material retained in the sieve should look like (early one I was doing incremental measurements to find out how more I could extract by sifting longer).
I tried all the tricks I found online for dealing with bran. I don't like surface coating because it gives an unpleasant texture (for me). I also did scalding/soaking/prefermenting the bran. None of these made a notable difference in the structure of the final loaf, so for me they are not worth the effort. The thing I do now is an overnight autolyse with salt at room temperature-it really helps with structure development. One thing I want to try next is incubating the bran with koji rice (a sort of bran amazake') so that the enyzmes in koji can release chemical in the bran.
Interested in hearing how the koji rice works out.
"My setup is bowl-screen-lid. The lid helps with a vigorous shake. "
ah-ha! there is the secret to quick throughput. You're shaking with lots of loft (up/down motion.)
Koji should be an interesting bran preferment. I remember reading a research paper abstract where the bran was prefermented with sourdough, amylase, xylanase and lipase, with good results. They call it "bran sourdough".
I'm sure koji will have at least some of those enzymes. I've approximated the bran sourdough in the past by prefermenting bran overnight with sourdough starter and some malt flour with good results, but it would have been good to have a source of the xylanase and lipase.
I note that Alinsons bread flour in the UK now contains alpha amylase and hemicelllulase (=xylanase), so I may try bunging a bit of that in.
I wasn't happy with bran + sourdough when I tried it because the results are too acidic for my taste (compounded by bran's buffering capacity). I regularly use koji to prepare oatmeal: koji brings out sweetness from the oats and also increases flavor complexity without acidity. From there to bran the jump is short.
About koji enzymes: you are correct that koji carries a a variety of them.
Cellulase, Pectinase, and Xylanase: ideal Temp=50C (range 40-60C) https://www-tandfonline-com.ucsf.idm.oclc.org/doi/full/10.1080/08905436.2016.1244768
Phytase: temp range 50-65C http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389172303800452
Lipase: temp 30C http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1271/bbb.59.1199
Koji enzymes: https://www-tandfonline-com.ucsf.idm.oclc.org/doi/full/10.1080/09168451.2016.1177445
Dario I was re-reading your post. Since it was originally published, I rec’d a tip from Michael, aka mwilson. He mention toasting the bran to eliminate the enzymes. I considered toasting in the oven to about 180F to be sure all enzymes were killed off.
Thought this idea might interest you because you mentioned the bran’s production of acidic taste. I prefer to use all of the grain.
I am not sure the endogenous enzymes of the bran are key players in the accumulation of acidity. After all you are introducing a whole new bunch of enzymes when you add the levain. I think that acid accumulation in fermented bran is due to the bran's high buffering capacity, which keeps pH constant in spite of acid accumulation and allows the levain to continue operating at its preferred pH for a longer time. If that is the case, the only way to prevent acidification is to treat the bran with a non-acid-producing microbe.
Dario, you are correct. I tried several times after reading your post. This time I was more methodical. Made sure the screens were cleaned and cleared. Sifted, timed and weighed. What I learned, and I thank you for it, is that it doesn’t take near as long to sift with a 50 mesh as I had thought. I learned that using multiple stacked screens is more efficient. The 30 screen id placed on the top. It catches the large bits that tend to clog the 50. My favorite combination is a stacked 30 & 50. Used to use a 20 & 50 but the 20 only retained a small amount of very large bran. The 30 keeps more bran and the particle sizes are still fairly large. The 50 allows flour (fines) that are powdery enough for me.
My sifting times are now on par with yours. No longer want or need a mechanical sieve, thanks to you!
dsb66 - The speed of your manual sifting is impressive and makes we want go to manual sifting. I assume the bowl and lid have to fit snug with the Gilson sieve for the vigorous shake. Did you use the Gilson lid and sieve pan or did you find another bowl and lid combo that fit well? Does it limit airborne dust? I have not yet bought a manual sieve but I could see how it might be difficult to find a well fitting bowl and lid that limits airborne dust.
I actually use a regular lid from the kitchen that happens to fit quite snugly my sieve. But I agree that a tight fit is important. I should note that at the end of sifting the lid is only covered in a thin coat of flour, not a huge amount. Are you using a full-height (3 in) Gilson sieve? For me the height is very important; I once made the mistake of buying a half-height sieve which I don't use anymore because it is hard to keep the flour in it (and I never sift more than 500g).
Currently I am using a sifting attachment to a Komo Mill. It works, but removing the grinding stone and attaching the sifter frequently is a bit cumbersome, especially if I decide to do a second milling. It also can accidentally pop open and spill the pre-sifted flour. Generally I end up just not using it. However at ~400g/min, it seems better for me to switch to manual sifting. But I'm trying to limit as much airborne flour particles at the source. Did you find it important to have a snug fitting bowl as well?
When I measure the lids in my kitchen, they seem like they would be off by ~0.5 inches from the 8in dimension of the sieve. I'm trying to see if it is worth while to buy the somewhat pricey testing grade Gilson lid and bottom pan or search for a cheaper alternative.
Thanks for the heads up on the full-height sieve and all of your help. I will definitely make sure I go that route.
I have a few bowls available for sifting. The one that fits snugly is the one that works best. My lid is roughly like yours in terms of excess dimensions.
I came here for the sieves, but noticed your comment about koji bran cultures. I did two bakes this past week along these lines using active sweet white miso to break down bran overnight at 90 F or so (I use the same process for oatmeal). I need a few more iterations before drawing any conclusions. Do you still use the practice?
I decided to go with a set of stacked sieves. A #50 on the bottom and a #30 on top. It seems more efficient to use the 30 on top of the 50 for the first sifting because the 30 retains the largest particles that might tend to clog the 50 had they not been retained in the top sieve. After the initial sifting (500g takes 4-7 minutes) the the captured particles from both sieves are put back into the mill and reground. The 50 screen is the only screen used for the last sifting. By the way - it is nice to keep the 30 stacked on top of the 50, even if not used to sift grain because it make a good cover to prevent anything from coming out during the shake down.
The reason for the second milling and sifting. The particles captured during the first sifting in both sieves weighed 184g. After re-milling and re-sifting the remaining particles captured were 90g.
By the way - these are the sieves I use and would buy them again.
I want to thank Dario. His information inspired me to become much more efficient in processing my whole grain into finer particles.
Glad I could help. About re-milling, what kind of mill do you use. If a Mockmill, I read that they don't recommend using it with already milled four. Do you have any problems with the second pass (slower milling rate, greater increase in temperature)?
I use a KoMo Classic and re-mill on a regular basis. The first and second passes are set with the stones just kissing. Flour temps are ~90F.
I’ve never had my stones clog up.
I did some research and it appears that the Mock Mill and KoMo use the same type of stones, Corundum ceramic grinding stones“. If you re-mill and clog your stones you can always clean them.
Dan, is the 1/30 a #30, the1/50 a #50, etc?
Yes, Hans. A #30 screen has 30 holes per inch, and so on.
I own a #20 but it only captures super large bran particles, approximately 0.61%. But the 30 captures a whole lot more. The 30 IMO is the sweet spot for capturing the larger particles. The 50 produces fine flour, but I haven’t tried a 60 or higher so I can’t speak from experience. I have no need to get the flour any finer. So a 30 & 50 it is.
I use a #40 for 85% extraction. I'll have to get a #50 for a bit finer.
An internet search led me back here. I was actually looking into these sieve shakers, but I'm convinced manual sifting is sufficient for my needs provided I can get a tight fitting lid and container. Does anyone know of a larger size sieve (e.g.,10" or greater) that is stackable and comes with a lid and container. (I'm not willing to bet I have something in my cabinet that will fit it exactly.)
HeadUp, I own a 20, 30, and 50 mesh, but only use the 30 and 50 now.THESE SIFTERS fit a 5 gallon bucket perfectly and a shower cap can be used to seal off the top. A clear seal is best because it is good to see the flour to know when you are finished. A piece of round plaexiglass,cut to fit, might be nice.
You may find some new information in one or more of the FOLLOWING LINKS.
That looks like an interesting option. Thanks for the link.
I forgot to mention. I almost always use my sieves stacked (30 over 50) and placed over a large mixing bowl.
Have you tried it with the 5 gallon bucket, or is that a bit too unwieldy for this type of shaking? I'm going to keep these on my list and will do a little more searching this weekend. I like the stack and shake in one pass approach. I'm milling less than 1000 g at a time, so I'm convinced the manual path is the right one (one less gadget). In my latest two pass milling configuration (all inclusive) with frozen wheat berries (crack then freeze then grind) I find the #30 collects almost nothing and the #50 collects quite a lot of "fine sand", which is prone to clogging and slower sifting. I think an intermediate #40 or #45 would be very helpful, although those sizes are far less common. Having a lid to support horizontal and vertical shaking might be sufficient to speed things up. The 5 gallon bucket compatibility seems ideal, but we are space limited in our 1 bedroom Brooklyn apartment, and I'm already pushing things with the mill, cloches, and recent wine fridge additions. Perhaps there are other smaller containers and lids your sieves will fit if they are designed to the 5 gallon bucket rim standard. I did find a few quick references to stainless "test" sieve pans and lids, which may be large enough for my needs, although quite a bit more expensive. Fitting in a cabinet is big plus. I'm just starting to experiment more with sifting to better understand options for the home miller bran blessing/dilemma: soakers vs sift (scald) and re-include, sift and feed, etc. If I bake a similar bread 10 times with each method I may have a basis for comparison in 1 month or so.
Here's one that includes links to others. Note the discussion about how tempering affects both the milling and sieving processes.
-- the relentless pursuit perfection. That is inspiring. I recall coming across some of his posts when I first got my mill, but I'm glad you called my attention to them, as I'm looking for more best practice pointers. I just read through a few of his blog entries, and while his setup is more than what I'm looking for, there is loads of good information. Tempering seems like it could be a relatively simple and worthwhile practice. I was starting to look at pH meters, and now I "need" a moisture meter too :) I'm primarily using soakers and am interested in separating bran for the purpose of processing and re-inclusion, so I think my standards are lower, although it serves as a nice blueprint to make flour for baguettes or ciabattas occasionally.
Lots of test sieves on Aliexpress - different mesh sizes and diameters. I find the 20cm size adequate for a few hundred grams.