Guest Post by Michelle Mather
As you might know from my previous post, I like baking my own bread here at Sunflower Farm. I try to use as much whole wheat flour as possible but as many others have probably discovered, whole wheat flour is not something you can stock up on and use over time. I learned this the hard way about 20 years ago when I first began using more and more whole-wheat flour in all of my baking. My whole-wheat loaves often had a weird aftertaste to them, and in time I began to realize that my whole-wheat flour was going rancid and causing the less-than-desirable flavor in my baking. UGH!
I began buying whole-wheat flour in smaller quantities and either refrigerating or freezing it to keep it from taking on that rancid smell and flavor. Both of these seemed to help.
Then one summer Cam decided to attempt to grow wheat. He describes his Great Wheat Growing Experiment here. He also posted a video of his attempts at separating the wheat from the chaff here. (We chuckle every time we hear him talk about separating the wheat from the “chafe.”) Needless to say we both gained a whole new appreciation for the miracle of the modern combine harvester! (There are other posts on the subject of growing and eating wheat such as the one here and here.)
A couple of years ago some friends of ours did a lot of research and purchased an electric grain mill. They demonstrated it for us and shared some freshly ground whole-wheat flour with us. We loved it! We thought about buying our own grain mill but they are not inexpensive (I believe their mill was in the $400 – $500 range), and as you probably know from reading this blog, Cam and I live on a rather modest income. Our friends offered to grind grain for us, but they live an hour away and so it just didn’t seem feasible.
Then a couple of weeks ago we hosted a half-day consultation for three people. They had wanted to come to our spring workshop but the date didn’t work for them. Instead they decided to come for a half-day consultation (details here.) Some times these half-day consultations actually work out even better than coming to a workshop, especially if you have very specific interests or questions you want to explore.
At one point while the guys were in the battery room discussing the nitty gritty details of the off-grid electrical system, Maureen came into the house to chat while I put together our lunch. Maureen is also a keen baker and we talked about using more whole-wheat flour and grains in our baking. I mentioned my desire for a grain mill as well as my limited budget. Maureen pointed out my KitchenAid stand mixer (see below for a story about it) and said, “Why don’t you get the grain mill attachment for that?” I had known that KitchenAid offered lots of attachments for their stand mixers. I had seen the pasta maker and the meat grinder, but I had never seen a grain mill. Maureen insisted that one existed and so after they left I went online to explore and lo and behold, she is right!
It turned out that a nearby Canadian Tire store had one in stock. (Why had I never noticed it while killing time in the kitchen section while waiting for Cam?) Even better, it was on sale, at only $149.99 instead of the regular price of $189.99! Then when I got home and went online to register the product I discovered a current rebate offer and signed up for a $20.00 rebate!
But the big question was – Will it work?? I bought some organic wheat berries and assembled the attachment, read the instructions and turned it on. Eureka! Freshly ground whole-wheat flour!
I’ve baked 2 loaves of bread using half whole wheat and they were fantastic! I’ll keep increasing the ratio of whole wheat to white until I get just the right balance of whole-wheat flavor and goodness and texture. This grain mill will also grind corn, rye, oats, rice, buckwheat, barley and millet, so I have a lot of fun experimentation ahead of me! And now that we have this step of the process figured out, Cam has a renewed determination to get back into growing our own wheat!
Cam and I have often remarked to each other that we always learn from our guests and workshop participants and this was just another example of that. Thanks Maureen!
The story behind my KitchenAid stand mixer – A couple of Christmases ago I asked “Santa” for a KitchenAid stand mixer but I let it be known that I would wait patiently for a sale before it was purchased. Finally in February the model I wanted came on sale and Cam went off to purchase it. He came home and proudly announced that he had purchased my Valentine’s Day gift! Nice try!! I had to remind him that it was in reality a late Christmas gift!
Today is my birthday, so I guess I could consider my new grain mill a birthday present to myself!
I didn’t take a picture of my grain mill but here is a link to the product on amazon …
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