Milling Whole Grains Into Freshly Ground Flour
May 16, 2011 by Peggy Layton
The most economical way to purchase wheat for food storage is to buy it in bulk, store it in 5-gallon buckets and grind it into fresh flour as you need it. Make sure the wheat you store contains less than 10 percent moisture content. This is very important because weevils and insects like moisture to reproduce. The dryer the grain, the longer it will store. Dry grain will also grind better in a mill. I like to buy wheat that has been triple-cleaned and is free of rocks, sticks, grass and insects.
It is best to find organic grains that are not genetically modified (GM). Whole grains can be purchased in any health-food or grain store. If you don’t have a grain or feed store near you, look it up on the Internet and find the closest food-storage and preparedness store near you. It is best to purchase the grain locally, because you will pay as much for shipping as you do for the grain. It would be good to get a variety of different grains and experiment with them. Whole grains are great to store because they last forever and provide carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, fiber and some naturally occurring fats. Because they are what we call complex carbohydrates, they are slow burning and provide extra energy in the body.
I grind up about a gallon of flour at a time and store the leftovers in a container in my freezer. It is ready for making breads, cakes, pancakes and other baked goods. By grinding it fresh each time I need it, the grain retains the nutritional value. Once the grain has been milled, it starts to lose nutrition the longer it sets. White flour in the grocery store has lost most of its nutritional value from being highly processed. The hull and bran are stripped away, and the flour is bleached to make it white. Then preservatives, whiteners, softeners and spoilage preventers are added. Processed food is dead food as far as nutrition goes.
I set up a baking center in my pantry where I can grind my wheat and grain. I keep together all the supplies needed for making bread — items such as honey, powdered milk, dried eggs, vegetable or olive oil, salt, vital wheat gluten and dough enhancer. I have gallon-sized containers with different grains in each one. I keep all the ingredients together, so they are handy to use. The only exception to the rule is the yeast. I keep it in the freezer, which extends the shelf life of the yeast. My wheat-grinder and bread-maker are on the shelf of my baking center. I have an electric wheat-grinder and a nonelectric hand wheat-grinder.
If you are storing the grain for long periods of time, it is good to use several oxygen-absorbers in the bucket. I use one 300-CC oxygen-absorber for every gallon of grain. I layer the grain and five oxygen-absorbers in a 5-gallon bucket so they are mixed in with the grain. If I am going to use the grain for grinding or cereal, I do not put an oxygen-absorber in the bucket, because as soon as you open it, the absorber will absorb oxygen from the air and will be useless. If I plan to sprout the grain, I do not put an oxygen-absorber in it, because it will kill the endosperm by depriving it of oxygen.
If a person is gluten intolerant (allergic to wheat), there are other grains that can be substituted in baked goods. The grains that contain gluten are wheat, spelt, kamut, faro, durum, bulgur, semolina, barley, rye, triticale and oats. The grains that do not contain gluten are amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, Indian ricegrass, quinoa, brown and white rice, sorghum, teff and wild rice. Grind all grains the same or mix them for a variety of texture, flavor and nutritional value.
If you are not used to whole grains, start slowly by incorporating the flour into baked goods. Use half whole wheat and half white flour at first. Because whole wheat and grains have fiber in them, they need to be introduced into the system slowly or they could can cause stomach upset until you get used to using them.
Electric And Nonelectric Wheat Grinders
There are many wheat-grinders available on the market today. I prefer to use an electric grain-mill (wheat-grinder) for everyday use. I make bread several times a week, and it takes more time to grind the flour by hand. However, I have a backup hand-grinder in case the power goes off and I need to grind flour or make cracked cereal. I also recommend a nonelectric grain-grinder called the WonderMill Junior for hand grinding. The electric mill is called the WonderMill. I also recommend the Country Living Grain Mill as the Cadillac of all hand grain-mills. It is heavy duty and very good quality. It is also the most expensive grain-mill. These mills can be purchased on my website.
The WonderMill Junior For Hand Grinding (nonelectric)
The WonderMill Junior hand-grinder has an adjustable dial which allows the mill to grind a variety of grains into fine flours and coarse cereals. The WonderMill Junior is a valuable emergency-preparedness tool. The sleekly designed mill allows you to have fresh, nutritious ingredients for your recipes, even when the power is out. The easy-to-turn handle grinds grain into fine flour or coarse, cracked grains for cereals. The mill is designed in one piece, which prevents the hopper from coming off during the milling process. Simply exchange the stone heads with the stainless-steel burr heads to make peanut butter or to grind flax, any other oily or wet grains, herbs, spices and all kinds of beans and legumes. The base of the mill is set back, which allows you to place a bowl under the grinding head to collect the freshly ground flour. This mill sells for $219.95. You will receive free shipping from my website.
The Electric WonderMill Grain Grinder
The WonderMill Company has teamed up with LG to make a Quiet Wheat Grinder. It is easy to use and clean, and it grinds the grain fast. This grain-mill adjusts from coarse to pastry-fine flour by adjusting the dial. It has a separator lid which is easy to clean and dishwasher safe, and the large, 12-cup capacity flour canister is perfect for flour storage. The wheat grinder can process most hard and soft grains and legumes, giving you more nutrition and a way to use your stored wheat, rice, corn and beans. The stainless steel mill heads are self-cleaning. The WonderMill Wheat Grinder comes with a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty on the stainless-steel, heavy-duty and long-lasting mill heads and a six-year warranty on the rest of the parts. The mill includes an instruction manual, warranty card and great recipes. This mill sells for $259.95. You will receive free shipping from my website.
The Country Living Grain Mill Hand Grinder (nonelectric)
The Country Living Grain Mill is a high-capacity, hand-operated mill that can easily be adapted to a motor drive. It has an attachment to the flywheel which doubles as a v-belt pulley. Construction of the Country Living Grain Mill is a strong, cast-metal alloy with a super-tough, powder-coat finish that won’t chip or peel. It’s a very easy mill to use. The grinding burrs for the Country Living Mill are precision-engineered, made of high-carbon steel (not lower-grade iron) and 5 inches in diameter. (The flour remains cool in the Country Living Mill, so nutrient quality is preserved.) I recommend purchasing the optional power-bar handle for easy turning. The Country Living Mill produces 1 cup of wheat flour in about 1.25 minutes. The Mill is adjustable, so you can crack grain at a loose setting or adjust it down and get very fine whole-grain flour, coarser meal or cracked cereal, depending on your needs. This nonelectric grain mill sells for $395. You will receive free shipping from my website.
Making Bread From Freshly Milled Grains
Bread is considered the staff of life. Many people believe grain will make them gain weight. The processed and refined flours are what make people gain weight. As a nation, we eat way too much processed and refined foods. Our brains need the rich supply of B vitamins found in whole grains. There is nothing better than coming home to the smell of freshly baked bread, warm and just out of the oven. If you learn the skill of making simple homemade breads, it could very well save your life.
I have a philosophy that you can live on simple soups and bread. The pioneers had a pot of soup on the stove at all times and a loaf of bread in the oven. They even made do with what they had. I have read accounts of the pioneers walking across the plains with a coffee grinder and a bag of wheat in their wagon. They used the coffee grinder to grind the wheat and make it into cracked wheat cereal and flour.
My book Cookin’ With Home Storage has an entire chapter dedicated to using whole wheat and other grains. There are recipes for simple breads: tortillas, flat bread, scones, yeast breads, rolls, crackers, cornbread, dumplings, homemade noodles, muffins, biscuits, pancakes, cereals, quick breads and pretzels. There are certain ingredients for making bread that must be kept in the food-storage pantry. The bread baking supplies include wheat and other grain for grinding, salt, yeast, powdered milk, dried eggs, oil, sweeteners such as honey, white or brown sugar, maple syrup, agave or stevia. I keep my yeast in the freezer because it extends the shelf life of the yeast.
Sprout The Grain Or Let It Grow Into Wheatgrass
In the pyramids of Egypt, grain was found that still sprouted despite having been entombed for centuries. Sprouted wheat can be added to bread to give it a nice texture and added nutrition. When the grain is sprouted, it is 300 times more nutritious. If you use sprouted wheat in bread, do not let it sprout past the second day or it will turn to wheatgrass.
Wheatgrass is highly nutritious and, when put through a wheatgrass juicer, produces a great tonic for the body. People drink it to purify their blood and cleanse the body of toxins and poisons. It is very good for the health.
Recipe for Honey Whole-Wheat bread
5 cups lukewarm water
2/3 cup honey or sweetener
2/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 tablespoons active dry yeast or 2 packages
2-3 eggs or (3 tablespoons dried egg powder) (optional)
1 tablespoons salt
¼ cup vital wheat gluten (optional)
2 tablespoons dough enhancer (optional) or 1 vitamin C tablet crushed
12 cups whole-wheat flour
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a large bowl, mix the lukewarm water, honey, oil and eggs together. Let it set for about 5 minutes to make sure the yeast will form bubbles and grow. If it doesn’t grow, the yeast may be dead, and you will need to get fresh yeast from the grocery store. Store all yeast in the freezer to extend the shelf life.
3) Add salt, vital wheat gluten, dough enhancer and six cups of freshly ground whole wheat or grain flour to the yeast and water mixture. Stir it well until the water is absorbed and it resembles a spongy, sticky paste.
4) Slowly add the remaining flour, one cup at a time and mix it in with a wooden spoon. When the dough pulls away from the bowl and holds its shape, it is done. If you do not need all the flour to make it pull away, do not use it all.
5) Grease your hands and the counter top with vegetable oil. Put the dough on the greased counter top and begin kneading the dough by pulling it and stretching it. Knead it for 10 minutes until it is smooth.
6) Divide the dough into six small loaves or three large loaves. Roll the dough to form the dough into the size that will fit in small bread pans to about half the height of the pans. Let the dough set on the top of the warm oven as it preheats. When the dough has risen above the bread pans by about 1 inch, the loaves are ready to go into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes for small loaves and 45 minutes for large loaves.
7) I like to make rolls out of the dough by pinching off a small amount of dough and flattening it out into a rectangular piece. Put melted butter on the top and fold the roll over. Place the rolls on a greased cookie sheet close together.
Peggy Layton is the author of seven books on the subjects of food storage and preparedness. The previous recipe and many others can be found in the cookbook Cookin’ With Home Storage. It contains more than 550 simple recipes using very basic pantry ingredients that can be stored long-term. This book contains authentic pioneer recipes and fascinating historical tips on how the pioneers really lived. There are chapters on all the basic foods that can be stored: wheat and grains, beans and rice, dried fruits and vegetables, dried pasta, powdered milk and dried eggs. There are charts on how to reconstitute dehydrated and freeze-dried foods. There are tips on how to incorporate food storage into your everyday diet. The book includes chapters on grandma’s home remedies, natural household cleaners, emergency baby food and pet food, as well as emergency food-storage and survival tips.
To purchase the cookbooks, electric and nonelectric wheat grinders and grain mills, bulk food storage, oxygen-absorbers or any of the other preparedness items talked about in this article, click here.
If you are interested in a great source for premade meals that can be stored for 15 years and taste great, I have been testing out emergency food storage meals, packaged in Mylar pouches. These meals serve four people and are ready eat: Just add water and cook. I find them delicious, convenient and easy. To learn more about eFoods click here.