Grinding flour is nothing new to me. I've been at it for over a decade. Today's mills are not flour throwers, kitchen destroyers, or mess makers. I have a small Nutrimill that I use all the time. It fits in my pantry when it's not in use.
I also have a hand crank model that I thought was cool. I love old fashioned things, and a hand-powered mill fit the bill. Since I have electricity and 4 children and no free time, I usually opt for the electric model.
Whether you invest in an electric mill (I use a Nutrimill) or a hand crank model, you will get the same result — fresh ground wheat flour. And, my friends, this is what you want.
One word: Health
Here are the 4 main reasons I grind my own wheat:
One: Grinding your own flour is more nutritious
Fresh milled wheat berries contain 40 of the 44 essential nutrients (that come from food) needed to sustain life.
If my kids don't eat their turnips, broccoli, kale or peas it's OK. I just feed them a slice of bread. I don't know of another food that comes this close to being life-sustaining by itself.
I suppose this is why bread is called the "Staff of Life."
Just eat bread. This can be in the form of:
• bread, buns, rolls
• pizza crust
• cinnamon rolls
• cinnamon raisin bread
• even desserts! Just think how healthy your cookies and cakes will be!
Fresh milled flour is a different animal than the flour sold in stores. When I grind my own wheat I am eating the germ, endosperm, bran and the hull.
"Grains are the seed-bearing fruits of grasses. The fact that grains are the seeds of the plant as well as the fruit and that life giving nutrients are contained and perfectly stored within, make grains an incredibly nutritious food. In fact, of the 44 known essential nutrients needed by our bodies and naturally obtained from foods, only 4 are missing from wheat — vitamin A, B12, and C, and the mineral iodine." — Sue Becker (Source)
"Whole wheat" flour or bread from the store is not the same.
"The majority of what is marketed in the USA under the name "wheat bread" has very little whole grain content, and is made primarily of white flour, with caramel coloring added to them to give an illusion of a higher whole wheat content. " (Source)
In order to prolong the shelf life of flour sold in stores they remove they bran and germ (the portion of the wheat berry that goes rancid — which is also the portion of the wheat berry that contains the bulk of the nutrition). Grinding up endosperm and hulls makes a fluffy white flour with a long shelf life. Great for stores, bad for us.
What do they do with the bran and germ that they take out of our wheat? They make animal feed with it. Yup, the cows are eating better than us.
Of course, when the millers (the folks running the mills) first took the bran and germ out of the flour (years ago) people started to suffer from health issues due to the lack of nutrition. People started coming down with things like beriberi and pellagra due to the loss of vitamins that were no longer in the flour. Health officials tried to get the millers to put the good stuff back into the flour, but it was too late. Grocers loved the flour with the longer shelf life and the millers loved the cattle feed business, so they "enriched" our flour.
Unfortunately, the "enrichment" does not come close to putting in everything they took out, nor is the "enriched" version of a vitamin the same as when it is naturally sourced from real food.
The bread, rolls, pitas, bagels, tortillas, buns, crusts, crackers, pretzels, doughs, baked goods, flours or grains sold in most stores are all junk food. Sorry.
Even the healthiest, nuttiest, branniest breads sold at stores can be imposters. There are a few out there grinding their own wheat and using the entire berry, but most are not. At best, they are separating the entire wheat berry, grinding it, processing it (for longer shelf life) then putting "enough" of the entire berry back together into that bag of flour in order to qualify for the much coveted "whole wheat" caption on the front of their bags. No, it is not necessarily the "whole" wheat berry. Our wonderful food system in America decided how much and what part of the wheat kernel must be put back into the bag in order to qualify for "whole wheat."
I don't think it should ever be "separated" and reunited in the first place. Just grind the dang thing up & bag it. BUT that would mean flour in the refrigerated section of the grocery and short shelf life and rapid loss of nutrients and all sorts of problems that supermarkets (and mills) don't want.
Whole wheat is not whole grain. And whole grain is not necessarily the entire whole wheat berry and nothing else. Will the real flour please stand up?
This leads to the unfortunate truth that if you want true "whole" wheat flour, fully intact, at the peak of nutrition, you might will need to buy a food mill.
Two: Grinding your own flour can mean fewer trips to the doctor
I DON'T LIKE SEEING DOCTORS (nor do I enjoy taking my kids to see them)
It just makes sense that if your diet is healthier (insert slice of bread) then your body will be healthier, which means you'll be making fewer (if any) trips to the doctor. Alleluia.
Look no further than one perplexed doctor to bring this into focus ...
When my children were younger, we saw the doctor on occasion. After we moved out to the country we changed doctors.
On one of our first visits she looked into my daughter's mouth and asked when she had had her tonsils removed.
I said: She hasn't had them removed.
Doctor: [diving further down my child's throat searching for tonsils] Wow. I can't even see them.
We went back for another ailment some time later and she saw another one of my children.
After looking in his mouth she asked if he had his tonsils removed.
I said: Nope, he still has them.
Doctor: Weird. Your kid's tonsils are practically not there.
A year or two later I was in there for something when she checked my throat and said, "You don't have any tonsils either."
Maybe it's hereditary, or maybe it's health.
Turns out that tonsils are one of the body's lines of defense against sicknesses. When someone has a healthy gut and healthy immune system their bodies can fight bugs and such, so the tonsils don't have to. When the body is weak or compromised, the tonsils can be forced to work overtime. Turns out that inflamed tonsils can be a sign of a weakened immune system. Likewise, if your child's tonsils have disappeared, you can bet they are probably eating a healthy diet.
I've always been a 80/20 mom who lets her little ones eat Chick-fil-A and milk shakes from Dairy Queen. I'm no poster mom for healthy kids so I'm thanking that bread for keeping my kids healthy.
Three: Grinding your own flour will save you money
My whole wheat bread is simple and contains just a few necessary ingredients: wheat berries, yeast, oil, honey and salt.
A 50-pound bag of whole wheat berries costs me anywhere from $20 — $27 depending on the grain I'm buying. When I add up all the ingredients I need to make my fresh bread it all comes to a grand total of about 25 cents per loaf. That's all it costs me to make my own bread.
The savings are undeniable. Yes, it does cost me time to bake my own bread. It's worth the time sacrifice to me when I consider what I am getting: nutrition, long term health benefits and cost savings.
To work breadmaking into my busy life, I usually plan a day every few months and have a bake-athon. I pick a day at home when there is not much going on and bake away. I usually bake 24 loaves (this is 4 batches of 6 loaves in each batch) in that day. I freeze them and they will last us a couple of months.
Four: Grinding your own flour promotes regularity
My kids love this about me ... NOT.
Pooping is part of life. It's healthy. Everybody does it! It's good to poop!
Well, if you have children, this may not be the first time you've read, discussed, or contemplated the issue of pooping. It seems like if you have at least one child and have been a parent for any length of time, you will at some point have dealt (or you will eventually have to deal) with a constipated child. They don't eat enough fibre. The don't drink enough water. They are too dang busy building playing with Legos to go to the bathroom.
So they end up stopped up and miserable. The next thing you know, you are at the doctor getting X-rays because you are sure their appendix is rupturing ... only to find a giant backed-up log of poop lodged in there.
I'll never forget the day Mamaw looked at me and said, "Candi, I've been constipated for as long as I can remember."
That, my friends, can not be healthy.
All I'm going to say is that if you grind fresh wheat berries you will never have constipation in your home again. No more stool softeners. No more glasses of prune juice. No more Activia. No more glycerine. No more tummy aches.
If you eat fresh-milled wheat products your home will be transformed into a "Poop-a-thon" and your main bathroom will never smell nice again.
Back to bread ...
Yeah, OK, that all sounds great ... but what does the bread TASTE like?
I don't know how to explain it ... it's super soft. It's slightly sweet. It's moist. It's wheaty and nutty in a GREAT, AWESOME way. I've never eaten bread from a store that tastes like my bread. Homemade bread from fresh ground wheat is going to be different because of all the natural oils and protein found in the whole wheat berry. The baked bread is not hard, dry or crumbly. It's beyond soft and moist.
You just have to taste my bread ... you'll want to eat it forever.
I've been grinding things since 2004, so I don't think much about it anymore. If we want pasta, we grind some flour. If we want pizza crust, we grind some flour. If we want muffins, we grind some flour. Bagged flour may be easier, but the health benefits are worth it for me to grind my own flour.
Stay healthy everyone!