Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wheat And Grinder Preferences

The old standby, wheat, dominates our food storage, along with rice and sugar. But using wheat in bread poses a grinding question: do I grind the wheat into a fine flour? Or, do I grind it coarsely to get the benefit of the bran for fiber?

The electric grinder I bought years ago ground the wheat kernels into a nice soft flour, but didn’t have a coarse enough setting to allow me to get that bran I wanted to see in my bread; even the coarsest setting is still a flour. And, its extremely loud, puts a fine powder into the air as it grinds (so I take it outside to grind wheat), and takes a lot of care to clean after each use. But I still like it, and use it when I want a fine wheat flour.

So, I bought another hand-cranked grinder to get the coarse wheat I wanted for breads. It has different settings, but even at it's finest setting, it'still coarse. I love it! It mounts to the kitchen table and grinds perfectly. It takes a little longer to get the amount of wheat I want to store, but it's relative quiet, and I can have someone else help turn the handle for a while.

Another word about wheat: ideally, wheat should be ground just before using in recipes to get the most nutritious benefit. However, I find it difficult to leave my hand-crank wheat grinder out, mounted on the kitchen table or counter, waiting to be used when I’m ready to bake bread. Even leaving the electric grinder out (to take outside) wouldn't be practical either. So I coarsely grind several cups of wheat with the hand-crank grinder and store it in an air-tight canister to be used in pancakes, bread, and anything else I choose, and then its put away for a while. I do the same thing with the electric grinder: I grind lots at once and store it for use later.

My thoughts are that eating wheat, even if its ground weeks earlier, is still good for you. It’s better than nothing. The impression is often given that if one doesn't grind their wheat just prior to baking, you're either not a very good cook, or somehow you don't quite meet up to the ideal standard. However, I believe that if you can sprout your 15+-year-old wheat, then it's still good and you can grind it, store it, and use it whenever you need it. Otherwise, what's the point of storing so much wheat and using it a little at a time?

A personal preference: Between red wheat and white wheat, I like red wheat for it's stronger flavor in pancakes and some breads. I also like red wheat for a hot cereal cooked in a crock pot overnight. White wheat (finely ground) is good for a hint of wheat flavor in some breads.

1 comment:

Nonna Beach said...

I prefer red hard wheat too. It has a nutty, full bodied taste. I have an old style Magic Mill wheat grinder and it came with a hand crank in case of no electricity. I got it as a gift from my Hubs many years ago and it still works as if it were brand new.I just love grinding my own fresh wheat flour etc. !!!