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Removing all chaff before milling?

AzJon's picture

Removing all chaff before milling?

Hey there, everyone. I'm very new to milling my own flour and had a question for you good folks.


I bought some wheat berries from a local grower and, while the wheat is mostly chaff free, there are still a few berries with the hulls on. There are enough of them that removing them is definitely an extra step in the bread making process. So, my question is: Does it matter if a handful of grains with the hulls still on get ground?

I sifted my flour after grinding and found that there were papery bits left over, which I assume belonged to the hulls.

Anyhow, thanks for your help in this regard. The flour tastes great, but I was wondering if leaving the husks on a few will cause problems I'm not considering.



banana's picture

I don't think leaving the chaff in would cause huge problems, but if you are worried about it you could run the flour through a fine mesh sieve after milling. This will also remove some bran which I like to do.

AzJon's picture

I have a flour sieve that is pretty coarse (not sure what fineness the mesh is), but it removes a bit of bran and some other flaky material.

Good to know its not really a big deal.

idaveindy's picture

then you probably need to hand sort prior to milling.

There is a big difference in buying grain from a miller versus getting it direct from the farm.

Large millers have their own computerized cleaning/sorting machines. Small millers use (should use) cleaning services.

I'm not sure what the official/technical definiton of "clean" versus "sort" is.

What I do, manually, is remove every grain/berry or "thing" that I don't want to eat.

Sometimes there is bran dust, and removal of that could be called "cleaning." So I guess what I mainly do is "sort out" or just plain remove defective berries, and foreign objects.

Those machines  remove (and I try to remove) unhusked, shrunken, diseased, malformed, green, desiccated, black-pointed, and broken grains. And remove "foreign material ." The cleaning machine  I saw on TV (or maybe u tube) used a dozen "streams" where each stream shot grains one by one at high speed past a computer camera, and if it was defective, a puff of air removed it from the stream.

Mechanical grain cleaning machines can't separate out all the things/conditions that a computerized/camera system can.  For instance, I don't believe mechanical-only machines/processes can sort out black-pointed berries.

Here's a post with links (not all currently work) that describe how to grade wheat:

I also describe my method for cleaning/sorting. 

You will also have some occasional dirt and small stones in wheat direct from the farm. Granted, farmers can have their own mechanical-based  grain-cleaning machines

Small stones may scratch or damage the grinding surfaces of your mill.

The most common problem is black point. More so in wet years. You see it on the point, or on/in the germ slightly off to the side from the point.

If black is in the germ, you should not eat it.  If black is in the crease, it is called "smudge", and you should not eat it.   Though, there are tiny amounts which are legally acceptable, just like there are for insect parts and mouse excrement.

A little black point won't harm you, but beyond a certain concentration, black point is considered carcinogenic.

I'm not sure on this but I think the black point mold/fungus can grow/spread while the wheat is stored. So it can go into storage as grade 1, and come out as grade 2.

Virtually no batch of wheat is perfect, but each type of defect has % limits which determine grade 1, grade 2 or grade 3. Grade 3 is animal feed. People can eat grade 1 and 2.

Also, total defects, i.e. the sum of all types of defects, has limits for each grade.

But again, you don't want to be paying grade 1 prices for grade 2 wheat. I bought some wheat berries at Whole Foods once, and was disappointed paying $1.50/lb for grade 2 wheat berries.

By hand sorting, you can turn grade 2 wheat into grade 1 by removing defective grains and foreign material.

AzJon's picture

Great! Thank you!

That's mostly what I was assuming was the case, but wanted to make sure.

I paid $1.70/lb, which is the cheapest I can find high quality grains (comparing against Breadtopia's hard white which is $4.26/lb after shipping). All of the berries themselves look really good. I don't see any of the black point and haven't found any stones. In the 800g I just sorted for milling, there was 10 unhulled grains and five small black seeds (and one mouse dropping, by the looks of it. Though I don't see any more of that anywhere else).

I always expect a certain level of...lets call it "rustic charm" anything I buy directly from a farmer, but always good to know what expected standards are out there in that regard. I'm used to it with general produce and goods, but haven't really dealt with farm-to-consumer grains before.

Thanks again!

idaveindy's picture

That's quite high for a home-miller to pay.

If you're in AZ, shipping from Utah should be cheap, so check out

Skip the organic stuff and scroll down to the Red Rose section.

For standard non-organic hard red and hard white, spring or winter, you should not pay more than approximately $.55/pound before shipping.

Home-millers should be buying in 25 or 50 pound bags. Get some sealable plastic buckets with resealable lids (eg Gamma brand lids).

Specialty stuff like durum, rye, Kamut, emmer, and einkorn will be more.

Personally, I am not a fan of organic grains. But that is a separate rant.

I did buy some organic Kamut (all Kamut must be organic as per the license agreement), but only paid $1.05 per pound, 25 pound bag for $26.25, delivered to a drop off point in Indianapolis as part of a group order from a Michigan distributor,

I paid $26.50 for a 50 pound bag of Prairie Gold hard white spring wheat from them too, same type of group order.


AzJon's picture

Yeah, agreed. The price is not ideal, but I only bought 8 lbs to try out a few grains.

For comparison, a "local" AZ place down near Tucson is $1.50 before shipping.

Looks like, if I get 50lbs of the organic hard white (conventional is sold out) in a 50lbs sack, the price is just over $1/lb. I have to be kind of conscious about space because my living situation only allows for so much storage. I have two 5 gallon food safe buckets that I was already using to store flour in, so I can just keep using those for grains.

Some of this is learning which grains I want to use. A not-small part of the idea for home milling, to me, is to be able to have a variety of grains on hand. Unfortunately, I can't have hundreds of pounds of grain in my house (despite my current best efforts).

idaveindy's picture

Yeah. Asking a home-miller to stick to one or two grains is like asking a fisherman to stick to one or two lures. ;-)

In my inventory, I have:

  • Hard red winter, generic.
  • Hard red spring, Bronze Chief.
  • Hard white spring, Prairie Gold.
  • Kamut.
AzJon's picture

Ha ha. That's a fact.


That looks like a fairly reasonable spread.

I think if I have to narrow it down to a reasonable spread I would want:

Hard white spring

Turkey Red



I think that would get me through the vast majority of what I bake.



jo_en's picture

May I ask why you do not like organic wheat berries?

I  buy  the 50 lb bags of organic red hard wheat berries from Giustos, here in the Bay Area, CA.  The berries when home milled produces flour that mixes into dough with great gluten development. The berries are clean and there are very few defective ones in a bag. At the Harvest House in Concord, it costs 0.90/lb (wheat berries , not ground flour).