Philip has a preparedness mentality that drives him to prepare for the future. Therefore we prepare for not only the known circumstances but also for the unknown. Keeping a stocked pantry is just one of the means we prepare for both scenarios. I wanted to dive into grinding my own flour for a few reasons. Wheat berries store easily and last forever. They are compact and easily fill a bucket without wasted space. Plus, who doesn’t love fresh hot bread!
What are Wheat Berries?
Wheat berries are the edible portion of whole wheat kernels. They contain three parts: the bran, the wheat germ, and the endosperm. The bran is the hard, outside layer. This is nutrient-rich and full of dietary fiber. Another part of the wheat berry is the germ. It is full of nutrients and oil. Lastly, there is the endosperm which is primarily starch. For my fellow science nerds, this is an image of the anatomy of a wheat berry with a breakdown of its nutrients.
How To Use?
Wheat berries are used as a whole grain. Cooked whole and used like rice as a side dish. Some people add to soups the same as barley. Some cultures use cooked berries as cereal. I personally love cream of wheat as a hot breakfast!
Most commonly, they are ground into flour. When flour is ground at home, all three parts of the kernel are included, making the flour more nutrient-rich than commercial all-purpose flour. Store-bought flour only includes the endosperm. This extends the shelf life, removing the oil that can make flour go rancid, but it also strips it of its nutritional benefits. Flour ground at home is considered whole wheat flour. Since it contains all parts of the wheat berry. A home mill makes it easy to grind your own flour at home.
Types of Wheat Berries
There are many different types of wheat berries. Currently, I have four varieties that I will be experimenting with over the next months. Hard white wheat berries, soft white wheat berries, hard red wheat berries, and einkorn. Once we settle on what kind we prefer, we will order in bulk to stock up and save money.
Hard wheat berries are a better choice for making bread. The bran of white wheat is lighter in color than red wheat and has a milder flavor. Red wheat berries have bold rich flavors. The mild flavor of white wheat is widely preferred over the bold flavor of red wheat. Hard wheat berries have a high protein content called gluten. Gluten is what causes bread dough to stretch. Without gluten, the dough would tear. This makes hard wheat berries ideal for bread making.
Soft white wheat berries are used for making pastries and cakes. It has a lower protein content or gluten content which produces lighter and more tender baked goods. Soft wheat comes in red and white wheat berries as well, but the milder flavor of the white wheat berries is more like conventional all-purpose flour and is generally preferred over red berries.
Einkorn is an ancient grain. Modern wheat has been modified from original wheat resulting in a higher number of chromosomes. Some people who experience gluten sensitivity issues with modern wheat can tolerate einkorn. Einkorn is extremely rich in vitamins and essential nutrients.
Fresh Ground Flour
Whole wheat berries are a great source of fiber and essential vitamins. Using healthy whole grains ensures I’m baking with flour that is loaded with whole grain goodness! After I select the varieties of wheat that will best meet my baking needs, I grind the flour in small batches when I need it. Unlike white flour from the grocery store, fresh ground flour needs to be kept in an airtight container in the fridge once it is ground. My grain mill allows me to grind the flour to meet my needs. Flour can be ground in a number of ways. A fine light flour for baking, or a more coarse flour to create a delightful chewy texture in baked goods. Best of all, I know that the flour I am using takes advantage of the full nutritional value of the whole grain wheat berries.
Tools of the Trade
There are different types of grain mills for home use, learn about them here. Philip gave me a beautiful Harvest Nutrimill for Christmas. I have been experimenting with it over the last few weeks and learning how to use fresh ground flour. Since this is whole wheat flour, containing all three parts of the grain, it is a bit different to use than conventional all-purpose flour. Be sure to follow along with my latest adventure with a series on fresh ground flour. Be watching for more posts in the series. The perk of so much experimenting is plenty of fresh bread. It pairs beautifully with our fresh raw honey and homemade jams.
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Sources of Wheat Berries
The advantage of ordering wheat berries on Amazon is the shipping is free. It can get expensive to buy grains in bulk online.
I have also order through Bread Becker Coop which is another great way to save on shipping costs.
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.