As I embark on this new journey of grinding my own flour, I have to ask myself why? Why do I want to grind my own flour? It certainly takes a little longer to grind my own flour. Wheat berries aren’t easily available at a neighborhood store. Plus I am still trying to nail down the baking techniques. Still, I have to admit, I have this romanticized vision of stone-ground flour. The piping hot yeast bread is cooling on my stovetop. Beyond the Little House on the Prairie fantasy, why would I want to bypass the convenience of using commercially ground all-purpose flour? In this second post in the series, I’ll explore the main reason I want to bake with fresh ground flour.
Top Reason to Bake with Fresh Ground Flour: Nutrition
While I was fortunate to grow up in a family that valued real food and from-scratch cooking, I grew up in a generation where prepared foods were abundantly available. I have always cooked from scratch and taken great pride in making homemade meals for my family. Never once did I question that the conventional bag of flour I was purchasing was stripped of its nutrition and health benefits. Unfortunately, if we take a step back and look at the rise in obesity and health issues in our society; we can’t deny that the time frame aligns with the changes in the commercialized food industry.
Fresh ground flour is produced using all parts of the wheat kernel wheat berry, the bran, germ, and endosperm. Both the bran and wheat germ are highly nutritious parts of the grain. Therefore whole wheat flour is the most nutritious type of flour as it contains all the edible portions of wheat berries. Meanwhile, white flour is made with only the endosperm. It’s the least nutritious part of the wheat berry. For all my fellow science nerds, this website shares a lot of great information on the production of flour. While it is possible to purchase whole-grain organic flours, it is more costly. It’s also less popular. As a whole society, we have become accustomed to soft white bread. Many people find the denser, more flavorful flour an adjustment to use in their baking.
Today’s post is part of a blog hop all about creating a Healthy Kitchen. You’ll want to be sure to check out these posts about this month’s theme.
Felicia at FeliciaGrave.com where she shares how to bake a perfect salmon in the oven.
Hollyn at Our Simple Graces shares simple swaps to make your life just a little less toxic in the kitchen.
Did You Know?
Flour made in commercial mills is highly processed. Flour comes in a variety of options including bleached, unbleached, enriched, and fortified. Let’s look at what this actually means.
Historically, flour was whitened by exposing flour to oxygen. It was a time-consuming practice that was impractical in commercial production mostly due to space constraints. Commercially made flour has bleaching agents that are added directly to the freshly milled flour. Chemicals such as powdered benzoyl peroxide or gaseous bleaching agents such as nitrogen peroxide are used as bleaching agents in our food. Bleached flour is actually more economical to produce than unbleached flour as producers can more easily control the quality of the product due to extensive processing. The chemical process is also faster and cheaper to produce. This FDA-approved process in the United States is illegal in several other countries around the world. Read more about it here.
Unbleached flour is aged or whitened naturally following the milling process. Since it is not chemically bleached, it will not be bright white in color. Unbleached flour is more off-white. Considering unbleached flour takes more time to process it’s generally more expensive to produce. Unbleached flour can be used interchangeably with bleached flour. Both are made with only the starchy endosperm of the wheat berry, lacking the most nutritious part of the grain. It may have a slightly dense texture, but most people will not be aware of the difference.
As you can imagine, after flour because widely available through commercial production, health problems began to rise. Since only the endosperm is used to make flour, all the naturally occurring nutritional value had been removed from the whole grain flour. The flour industry has taken action to try and correct that, by adding the exact nutrients back into the blend in synthetic forms. The primary nutrients added are iron, B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin E, niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin. Read more about it here. The majority of purchased bread products are made with enriched flour as seen on the labels.
Fortified flour is another category of flour. The main difference between fortified and enriched flour is that enriched flour has nutrients added that were naturally occurring in wheat. Fortified flour is flour that has nutrients added that are NOT naturally found in wheat. Adding nutrients to flour is an inexpensive way to add essential nutrients commonly lacking in the population. One of the most consumed wheat products is cereal. Fortifying this flour is a way for the government to add nutrients to food where diet is lacking.
Inspiring Reason to Bake with Fresh Ground Flour
One of my dearest friends and followers, Denise Deitz, recently shared this inspiring story with me. One of the founders of the Bread Beckers, Sue Becker, had an interest in food science. Through her studies, she discovered the correlation between Americans’ declining health and the commercial flour industry. Sue began grinding her own flour and saw the immediate improvement in her family’s health. She and her husband Brad believed so much in the use of fresh ground flour that they build the Bread Beckers. Their business helps other home bakers have access to their own freshly milled flour. Read their story here.
With the rising costs of groceries, we are fortunate to have access to whole grains so we can enjoy our own fresh flour. We use both hard white wheat and soft white wheat berries in our baking. We buy our own wheat in bulk, purchasing 25 to 50 pounds of wheat berries at a time. Purchasing whole grains is a fraction of the price of store-bought flour. Not to mention, the better flavor of the final product is worth the extra effort. Additionally, we are able to add to our food storage for emergency preparedness.
A Healthier Reason to Bake with Fresh Ground Flour
While I have always cooked with real food, I am learning more and more about the ingredients available to us. It’s not just about being homemade, it’s about quality ingredients as well. As Philip and I make our way towards a self-sustaining lifestyle, we do have to make adjustments to the products we use in the kitchen. Learning to use fresh-milled flour means we have eaten a few heavy loaves. Still, as we both approach 50, continuing a healthy lifestyle that allows us to live a long and full life together is completely worth a few heavy, experimental loaves of bread along the way.
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About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.