The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

A Frustrating Milling Question for the Beginning Miller

Ricko's picture

A Frustrating Milling Question for the Beginning Miller

So you have this brand new mill that you're just itching to use on some wheat berries so you can make this fantastic tasting new bread. You like the typical white bread, either made with commercial yeast or sourdough and a dark rye. 

Now you want to pull the trigger and order a 50# bag of wheat berries! The question is what to order! 

It seems to me from my reading that wheat berries come in three categories and of combinations thereof, Winter/Spring, Hard/Soft, Red/White. Are there also differing categories for rye?

Depending on which bread you're wanting to make, which combination of the above three categories do you want to purchase to use with your new mill? Is it Winter Hard White, or Spring Soft Red, or a Winter Soft Red etc. that's going to open your eyes on the first bite of your new found bread. 

barryvabeach's picture

Yes, it is confusing at first, but in short order it will be second nature.  For bread, we want hard wheat.  Soft wheat is better for pancakes and quick breads like banana bread.  Red is going to taste grassier, and more like wheat bread you buy in a store.  White wheat berries have a more neutral taste -  it will taste fuller and less sugary than store bought white bread, but won't have a strong flavor.  Spring v. Winter -   Spring will normally have a higher protein level than winter, but not as dramatic a difference between hard and soft.  So I would start by going where you can buy in a smaller volume - like a Whole Foods,  or an Organic Food store -  and try a few pounds of each and see what you like.   You may decide you prefer one over the other,  or you might want to make loaves that are 60% white and 40% red, or some other ratio.   For me, most of my baking is Winter White Hard Wheat or Spring White Hard Wheat - though it is not really a choice I make -  the local organic food depot only offers Central Milling Winter White  -  and the mail order  Allbulkfoods  , IIRC,  only offers Spring Hard White Wheat.   While I stay plain, many others experiment with other varieties -  Kamut,  Red Fife, and others. 

Ricko's picture

Barry, thank you for the clarification as I am definitely a “stay plain” type of bread eater.

idaveindy's picture

Rick, I'm afraid you might have some misconceptions due to the confusing terminology.

I'm not sure where you're starting at, so I'll try to start at square 0.  Please forgive me if you already know these basics.   But I do try to write for the silent lurkers, and for future readers who stumble upon this.

What triggered this was your statement about your family eating white bread.  Taking that literally, then I don't think home-milling is for you unless you plan to transition the family to bread of at least 50% whole wheat.


In the US, "White flour" actually comes from red wheat.  And white wheat, when it is milled at home does not, and cannot, make "white flour."

When we say "white flour" we mean refined flour, of the white endosperm,  not the darker bran or germ.

When we talk about "white wheat"  versus "red wheat", we are referring to the relative color of the bran. Red wheat has more tanins in the bran, making the bran darker and of stronger taste.

if you sift home-milled wheat (white wheat or red wheat) you will not get "white (refined) flour".  You can remove maybe 15% of the total weight by sifting,  but you can't remove all the bran.

 Whether using red wheat or white wheat, the seive only knows the size of the particle, not bran, versus germ, versus endosperm.  So you are sifting out "chunks", -- whether they be chunks of endosperm or bran.... the seive doesn't care.

 Commercial roller mills are highly sophisticated in order to get the bran cleanly separated.  And even then, they have to take out the outer layer of the endosperm in order to be sure to take out the vast majority of bran.  A home mill is crude in comparison.

If your goal is to make AP flour or bread flour,  well... you can't do that with a home mill.  You can only make "high extraction" flour by milling and sifting.

Sifting is a matter of preference,  but AFAIK,  most home millers don't do it.  If we want less than 100% whole  wheat, we use store-bought AP or Bread flour to "dilute" our home-milled WW flour.


If your family prefers 90-100% white/refined flour loaves, they will likely not like anything with home milled flour, sifted or not.  


To "test" your family, so you don't waste hundreds of dollars on a mill,  maybe start baking bread with store-bought white flour combined with store-bought whole wheat.

Start at maybe 15%  WW and work your way up, and see how high a % of WW they can tolerate.  If they don't enjoy at least 40% WW, then home milling will likely not be worth it.    At 50%, just my estimate, then the benefits of taste and freshness start to be worth the time and expense of home milling.


You also have to factor in cost/shipping of the berries.  If you are not close to a retailer of whole berries, you can pay twice as much for the berries as for good store-bought flours.


King Arthur, Kroger, and Trader Joe sell 100% whole wheat flour made from white wheat berries, called "white whole wheat."  This is milder than "regular" whole wheat, which is made from red wheat berries. 

Using "white whole wheat", you can generally double the WW percentage before the average bread eater balks.  IE, if they tolerate 20% red WW, they usually tolerate 40% white WW -- just my estimate.


Does this help, or just add to the confusion?

Ricko's picture

Ida, allow me to make some clarification. I’ve been making bread for many years now. I find that “store bought” bread has a preservative taste as compared to home made. Also store bought can sit on the kitchen counter for 3 weeks and look the same as the day you bought it! That has to tell you something. After about 4-5 days on the counter home made starts to get those small mold spots. Now as for bread preferences, I use the KA Walter Sands white bread recipe, for sourdough it’s KA tangy sourdough recipe, and for dark rye I’m still on a search for that recipe. I find the Sand’s recipe is done in a day. The sourdough takes an over night retard in the fridge as well as some rye recipes. Another reason for looking into the art of home milking is that it is impossible to get dark rye flour at the store and WW is scarce also. This is not related to COVID either. So the lack of WW flour is the reason for not having a loaf on my table. So yes, you are correct, I am at ground zero on milling, but not to bread making itself. Concerning availability of hard wheat berries, I live in Michigan which I don’t think it’s a state that is known for growing hard wheat. So yes I’d have to order my berries. Although I did read somewhere that berries kept in a seal pail will last longer than commercial milled flour. Another plus for milling. One last point I’d like to make is that I’m not into the artisan boule shaped breads, as I do own a commercial Oliver bread slicer which means loaf pan breads come out just like store bought only without the preservative taste. Besides I needed the slicer as my wife can butcher up a nice loaf in a hurry! The phrase “straight cut” is not in her vocabulary!

Yippee's picture

At first glance, I thought, "who's Ilda? Did my friend join the forum?" It turned out Ida=Dave?

Ricko's picture

Dave, one of your statements was "If your goal is to make AP flour or bread flour,  well... you can't do that with a home mill.  You can only make "high extraction" flour by milling and sifting." I guess it sounds as though I'm stuck with KA AP and Bread flour. Could you define "high extraction"  a bit more for me. 

I have nothing against WW bread, but with the table white, the sourdough and now and again a rye, I see little need to perfect a WW loaf. Now I should mention that the wife and I watch our 5 year old grandson 3-4 days a week. As you probably know, kids that age live on PB & J on white bread. If I were to give him lunch of PB & J on WW, he'd refuse it saying that it isn't a "normal" sandwich! 

So what I gather from your post is that I can't mill an equivalent to KA AP or bread flour. I probably can't do rye flour as rye berries seem to be as scarce as hens teeth. That leaves me only to be able to do WW flour. I must say that I'm strictly a "potato and steak" type of guy, not a Ewell Gibbons type of guy.  I'm not into these multi grain breads, or flax seed, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, etc. 

I wish to thank you and the others for clearing up some misconceptions about milling. I kind of put the milling idea in the same class as beer making. The craft beers are okay to a point. They're either real hoppy or fruity tasting. They're also pretty rich tasting, almost like a pork chop in every glass! One or two glasses is about all one can stand. There is something to be said for a good old standby like Miller Lite! 

Perhaps its best if I step away from the "Milling Train" for the moment. I have to admit it did sound kind of interesting.

idaveindy's picture

Rick,  Thank-you for picking up on that. That/this is the line of thought I was hoping you'd consider.

First, what bread cookbooks do you own?  I have a lot.  So once I know what you have on hand, I'll try to reference recipes  you can look up, and use those to illustrate points.


Here we go...

There is no one "universal" "WW loaf".

I assume you are familiar with the 3 parts of a wheat berry: endosperm, bran, and germ.  Look up "wheat" at for further info.


At one end of the bread spectrum are 100% store-bought  (commercially milled in facilities costing over $100 million) white flour (AP or Bread) loaves which are "virtually" free of bran and germ.  Those multi-million dollar machines are specifically designed to take out bran and germ.

At the other end of the spectrum are the 100% WW flour loaves with ALL the bran and germ, and nothing taken out.  Whole berries go into the mill, and 100% of what comes out goes into the dough.

Then, there are 99 shades in between, loaves with 1% WW flour with 99% white store-bought flour... all the way to ... 99% WW flour with 1% white store-bought flour.

Typical Ww loaves on TFL are anywhere from 20% to 80% Ww flour, with the rest being store-bought white flour.  Different strokes for different folks.

People who bake true 100% WW loaves are a small minority, whether they use store-bought flour, or mill at home.


Now we can talk sifting your home-milled flour.  I don't sift, so the numbers I'm using are just based on what others say and some guesstimating.

When a miller (home or commercial) starts with 100 pounds of raw milled flour (ie, the whole berry, 100% of it), and sifts out 15 pounds, the 85 lbs that goes through the seive is called "85% extraction" flour. 

AP and Bread flour is typically  72% extraction.  100 lbs of raw wheat is ground, 28 pounds removed, 72 pounds of "refined" white flour are the results. And remember, it takes a multi-million dollar plant to do that.  (And some white endosperm gets sifted out as well,...can't be helped. so the 28 lbs is not entirely bran/germ.)

If less than 28% of the raw wheat berry is removed, meaning more than 72% is kept and sold as flour, then that flour is called "high extraction" (ie, higher than 72%).

AND MORE IMPORTANTLY.... it necessarily has more bran and germ, in direct proportion to the "extraction rate" until you get to 100% extraction, where nothing (0%) is removed.

More bran = stronger taste = denser bread.

if you look at you can see "ash%" which is related, but not the same as extraction percent.

.55% (point five five) ash is about 72% extraction.  1.6% ash is 100% extraction.

Further details at:

But that web page is extremely technical. 


So if you run 100 pounds of wheat berries through your home mill, and sift out 15 lbs (which is typical), you have in the bucket, by definition, 85% extraction flour left over.

But, home milling and home sifting is not as efficient at separating bran as a commercial roller mill. Those 15 pounds you took out have a lot of chunks of endosperm... it's not all bran that you took out, nor all _of_ the bran.

 Maybe you only took out 1/4 up to 1/3, maybe up to 1/2, the bran... and definitely not all the bran.  the exact percentage of bran removed in a home operation is anyone's guess.

Having SOME bran in that home-milled and home-sifted flour, is the same as .... taking _some_ store-bought white flour, and mixing it with _some_ store-bought WW flour.  How much of each?  my guess is at least 50% store-bought WW, maybe up to 75%.

So.... how high a _percent_ of WW can you, your wife, and grand-kids "tolerate" ?

Aaah..., THAT is the big question.

And... it's not just a matter of taste and freshness. Bread can be flavorful and fresh, but if it has a "mouth-feel" (that's a real word in the food industry) that the eater is not used to, then that can ruin it.

For instance, I have a friend who  "needs" there to be at least 25% white flour in the Ww loaves that I bake, in order for her to like it. IE, 75% max WW.

But instead of the hassle of sifting, I just use store-bought white flour.


As one commenter said on your other post, they use only 20-25% home-milled Ww in a loaf, and the rest store-bought white flour, and they consider home milling still worth it.

So, that could be a starting point, ... make some 20% Ww bread (from store bought  flour) and test if out on the family.


You're close to Grand Rapids, so maybe you can find Ww in stores there.


And by the way, I buy whole berries from in Pullman MI. I live on one of their delivery routes and buy from a local buyers club.  Last I looked they had rye berries.


Please lemme know if I got too deep in explaining this.


Ricko's picture

Dave, my library contains the following books. 

Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Hamelman

New Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton

The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Francois & Hertzberg

Bread Baking: An Artisan’s Perspective by DiMuzio

Secrets of a Jewish Baker by Greenstein

The Handmade loaf by Lepard

The bread baker’s apprentice by Reinhart

Local Breads by Leader

The Rye Baker by Ginsberg

Baking Bread: Old and New Traditions by Hensperger

Classic Sourdoughs by Woods

Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads by Bertinet

Artisan Baking by Glezer

So once again for clarification, if I take up home milling, I am still going to have to purchase KA flour or Central Milling flour to add to any home milled flour which is only going to be WW flour? Home milling is NOT a substitute for Central Milling Artisan flour or KA bread flour etc.?

As for your Pullman Michigan source of supply, I see that is 75 miles from me. Probably worth a drive to pick-up berries. I may contact them to see if they have a route and drop-off point in Grand Rapids that might even be closer. 

Off to breakfast now for my eggs and coffee and WW toast! I'm not opposed to WW toast myself! Have to shoot the bull with all the other old retirees also. Then it's back home to finish my KA Tangy Sourdough loaves. 

idaveindy's picture

"if I take up home milling, I am still going to have to purchase KA flour or Central Milling flour to add to any home milled flour which is only going to be WW flour?"

Yes, with exceptions*. But since you said you are no Euell Gibbons, then I doubt you'll fall into the exceptions.  

(  I remember him from the TV commercials, and he once spoke at my high school. One of my rare brushes with greatness.)

"Home milling is NOT a substitute for Central Milling Artisan flour or KA bread flour etc.?"

Correct. But since sifting is a _partial_ work-around, let's be wonky and say "Home milling and sifting cannot produce a flour that is a 1-to-1 direct substitute for CMA flour or KA Bread/AP flour."

Ricko's picture

Okay then, so if you normally make a sourdough bread using KA bread flour for instance, what percentage of your home milled flour would you substitute in place of the total KA flour? 25% perhaps? 50%? A percentage that gives that noticeable great taste that is a day and night difference from using 100% commercial bought flour (KA bread) yet doesn't give a heavy WW bread taste? 

Also what percentage substitution would you suggest for a typical white loaf of kid proof table bread? So I'd impart a great taste and still pull one over on the grandson! 


idaveindy's picture

"Okay then, so if you normally make a sourdough bread using KA bread flour for instance, what percentage of your home milled flour would you substitute in place of the total KA flour? 25% perhaps? 50%? A percentage that gives that noticeable great taste that is a day and night difference from using 100% commercial bought flour (KA bread) yet doesn't give a heavy WW bread taste? "

That's a totally subjective user preference. In Tartine Bread, it's 10%. In Hamelman, Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat, page 154 of 1st ed, it's 10%. But they are still using store-bought, not home-milled.

 At 10% home-milled, will it be a "night and day" difference? No. Just a "noticeable" difference.

And if you get to 20% and higher home-milled WW, it is no longer comparable to a 100% white flour loaf in terms of mouth-feel.

It's a trade off.  As a grown-up, you'll gladly go with a different mouth-feel for the better taste.  But to a child, "different" is "not as good."


"Also what percentage substitution would you suggest for a typical white loaf of kid proof table bread? So I'd impart a great taste and still pull one over on the grandson! "

AFAIK, can't be done.   Though Pmccool had a couple good ideas to try: use white wheat berries and start with a small percent;  and enlist his help.

And  as several have suggested, it would be wise to start out with store-bought WW and get your feet wet, experiment, and find out your preferences, before investing in a mill and a 50 pound  bag of berries.

I'd start with store-bought white whole wheat from KA, Kroger, Trader Joe, etc.

idaveindy's picture

Rick, out of those books, I have:

Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Hamelman. -- 1st edition, hardback.

Secrets of a Jewish Baker by Greenstein. -- Kindle.

The bread baker’s apprentice by Reinhart. 1st ed. hardback & 15th anniv. Kindle.

Local Breads by Leader. -- Hardback.

Classic Sourdoughs by Woods.. Kindle.

Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads by Bertinet. -- Kindle.



Hamelman's Miche Point a Calliere, page 164 of first ed. can be made by sifting home milled flour.   More importantly, there is an explanation of both "high extraction" and how to approximate it with blending, in the side-bar on page 165.

Leader's Whole Wheat Sourdough Miche Inspired by Poilane, page 118-121, looks like  it can be made with sifted home-milled wheat, because WW makes up 80% of the final dough (page 120) and "most" of the whole wheat levain (page 119). But the 50 grams of seed culture (from page 111) that innocates the levain on page 119, is actually at least 70% AP flour, so some kind of adjustment needs to be made there.


Here's a Hamelman formula that uses some (20%) whole wheat: Pain au Levain with Whole-Wheat flour, page 160 of 1st ed.   That formula does require store-bought Bread flour because you can't sift out enough bran from home-milled flour in order to get the equivalent of that 70:20 White:WW mix.  (the other 5% is rye.)

In BBA, Light White Wheat, page 181 of 1st ed., needs store-bought white flour, because WW is only 6.75 / (11.25 + 6.75) = 37.5% of the flour.


Just for the sake of discussion, I'm assuming the most bran you can sift out of home-milled flour is 50%, and thereby, again just estimating, make the equivalent (more or less) of a mix of 50:50 WW-to-store-bought-white-flour. 

(Those who actually do sift can give you better estimates of the actual percent equivalency they achieve. It depends on the mill, fineness of grind, one pass through the mill versus multiple passes, etc.)

Therefore, under those assumptions,  any formula that calls for more than 50% white (AP or Bread) flour cannot be achieved with only sifted-home-milled-flour.

Yippee's picture

to extra fancy durum flour seems impossible to do at home. But do you think we can at least grind it to semolina, Dave? I have 50 lbs of durum berries, and I don't know what to do with it besides using it to make CLAS.


idaveindy's picture

I have not used any durum berries so far.

 The closest I've gotten to durum berries is Kamut berries, which is also a "vitreous" or  translucent "glassy" grain.

And yes, I can mill it almost as fine as hard red or hard white wheat in my Vitamix.

The trick to using it is to give it a good soak at a higher % of hydration than your final dough.  That means soaking or autolysing it by itself before adding other flours. Sort of using "holdback flour" instead of "holdback water". 

Long ferment/proof times typical of sourdough or no-knead styles also help to eliminate the grittiness.

People have made bread from fine semolina, and the grittiness disappears if you do it right. 

I guess it's like how rolled oats eventually disolve in the dough and become indistinguishable.


I have used whole-grain (or high extraction) store-bought durum flour  in pizza crusts and flat breads.  and I think my home-milled gritty Kamut is good up to 20% in loaf bread.


I recently bought some fine semolina, and it softened up just fine in about 6 hours combined ferment/proof, at maybe 15% of total flour in a flat bread.

Yippee's picture

Hi, Dave,

I have a Vitamix too. Do you think one can make a decent 100 percent durum loaf similar to this by only using the fine durum flour ground by a Vitamix (with sifting)?


idaveindy's picture

That's a hard call.  In that loaf, you used finely milled durum that had most of the bran removed.

The Vitamix is more of an impact mill, not a stone or roller mill.  A stone or roller mill can sort of "squeeze" off the bran layer, but not so an impact.

With Kamut, and it's glass-like (vitreous) qualities, the endosperm is even more reluctant to separate from the bran.  And I assume vitreous durum is similar.

And remember, I run my wheat, including kamut, through a 3-roller hand-mill to crack the grain before putting  it in the Vitamix.  (And I only have the regular Vitamix container, not the dry grains container.)

When I did try to sift my Kamut in a #20 seive, I could not tell bran apart from endosperm.   

The Kamut still had sand size grains. So if I were to sift, I'd use a #40, and run the larger chunks through the Vitamix a second time.


I guess the bottom line is whether or not your clas formula would work for whole grain durum, or if it requires the lesser-bran Fancy/Extra-Fancy style.

Yippee's picture

Hi, Dave, 

Similar to your process. I plan to run the durum berries through my KA mill first. Then sift, vitamix, sift again. I might repeat any of these stages if needed. CLAS prefers whole grain, so the sifted particles would be perfect. I can't do the experiment now because I am still sourcing the sieves. I must find a way to use up all the durum berries.


idaveindy's picture

If you want whole grain, you're good to go now.  Crack it in the KA, chill it in the fridge, then run about 225 grams at a time through the vitamix for about 30 seconds. The Vitamix does impart some heat to the flour.

The few sand-sized grains make it "rustic style." :-)

Yippee's picture

Is so expensive; it's almost like robbery.


clazar123's picture

That is a great summary by idaveindy on the different wheats and their attributes and I thought asnwered the question you had asked. I'm glad to hear you are not a novice jumping in because mlling, whole wheat baking and bread baking in general have some steep learning curve. Put them all together and that is a LARGE project to undertake.

Rye availability: It seems that since Hodgsen Mills was bought ought (major rye supplier), rye is very hard to find locally. Bob's Red Mill and some small mills have some available but it is generally very expensive. If you find rye berries in bulk bins, it is a mystery as to what variety. In USA, we do not have the interest in rye to generate a market for different varieties. That is changing,though.

Rye recipes:

Let me introduce you to Stanley Ginsberg. He was a frequent poster here for years but has gone on to other-delicious things.       His site has numerous recipes and information, his books are great and he even arranges rye tours in Europe. I believe he has a baking supply site,also. (can't find that link right now).

Long fermented or sourdough bread will keep for many days if the loaf is not touched afterward. We carry lots of spores/germs on even clean hands. I put mine in a bag when cool and am very careful to touch only the slices I am removing. I cut the bread as I go but pull the bag back only to expose the slices I'm making. Practice makes perfect. A slicer sounds great.

idaveindy explained the difference between soft/hard wheat. Soft can be used for rolls but I'm not so sure a loaf would hold. Better for cakes,pancakes,etc. Or it can be used to reduce the chew a high protein flour produces.

Flavor-red vs white

When you freshly mill red wheaat, it has a very sweet,hay-like fragrance and the taste is the same. A little bitterness that will become a bit stronger as it ages.  Lovely! It is the tanin bitterness that makes most people not like red WW. They should try a loaf made from freshly milled and properly fermented dough. It is like fine wine and very delicious.

White WW is not my favorite. It is genetically different to exclude the tanin and , to me, tastes VERY bland. It mills to a creamy color-not as white as AP. It definitely has a place in baking but it is NOT a direct sub for AP, as many people believe (prob. from marketing)


Expensive initial investment, both the equipment and the berries. For a while, Walmart was selling 25# bags of hard,red spring berries-Bronze Chief brand. Check around. Bulk bin stores can be a source,also.

If I were you,I would buy a used grain mill and start with a few small batches of berries to see if you really like it. I have both a Whispermill (loudest "whisper" on the planet-ear protection advised) and a Mockmill attachment for my K5 stand mixer. Whispermill process 8 c berries in about 10 minutes. Mockmill is designed as a grind-as-you-go and will do 3 cups in about 30 min-start to finish. Since I am only doing a few batches of bread periodically these days, I prefer the smaller mill. When I was doing 3-6 loaves/week, I liked the Whispermill.

I don't know what your experience is with making WW but it is very different than making AP/Bread flour doughs. It has it's own learning curve and the in's and out's have been well discussed here over the last 12 yrs. Search under my posts for WW, Txfarmer (no longer here), ehanner (no longer with us), MiniOven for all things rye, dabrownman for all things wholegrain with great formulas.

That is a good start. Digest and research and have delicious fun!




pmccool's picture

check bwraith's blog.  This link should get your started, since it references other posts that Bill made about his home milling. 

You should also look at proth5's blog posts that deal with home milling.

There are others to read (the Search tool is your friend) but Bill's and Pat's endeavors will give you a good idea of what is or isn't possible.

I agree with the other posters in this thread that trying to make AP-style flour at home is prohibitive for both technical and financial reasons.  I mill my own whole-grain flours, wheat and rye predominantly, using a  Komo Fidibus mill that I purchased used.  One of the selling points for me, besides the freshness and flavor, is the ability it gives me to produce different outputs.  Those include cracked grains and meals of varying coarseness, in addition to flour.  Those are things that are very difficult for me to source in the quantities that I tend to use.  It is easier to buy the grain and use my mill to grind whatever I need. 

My situation is different than yours, in that I don't have to worry about keeping kids happy with white or mostly white bread.  If you were to buy white wheat, you might be able to sneak some past them in your bread.  Best to start with buying some white whole-wheat flour before taking the milling plunge.  That will let you figure out what your customers will accept.  The other thing you can do, especially with kids, is get them involved in making bread.  "I made it" is sometimes a lot more palatable than "Here, try this."