Friday, February 9, 2007

Real Whole Wheat Flour

Here's something I haven't done, but I would love to: Growing and Harvesting Wheat by Hand

Wouldn't it be cool to eat a slice of bread, fresh from the oven, that you'd created from start to finish? I mean, from planting it right down to harvesting, milling and baking it... that's real hands on living and something you don't find much of in today's world. It doesn't even seem realistic to do things like that, but people did it for most of human history.

It seems that we've been sold a bill of (commercialized) goods.

How did people survive before the last century or so? Too many people now don't know and if you tell them, they won't believe you. We're coddled, cocooned and protected from the real world so much that we don't even know it exists.

Anyway, back to wheat...

I've mentioned before (elsewhere) that I buy wheat at a feed store. That's not exactly true. It should read I bought wheat at a feed store. It's been... 6 or 8 years since I've done that and the reason is that I still have wheat! I don't even remember how much I bought, but it must have been a hundred pounds.

A hundred pounds of real whole wheat flour goes a long way, but probably not as long as mine has, if you use it all the time and use it exclusively. I sometimes use white flour with it to make a bread that rises better and I only bake for one person now, so it goes a long way.

Real whole wheat flour, ground at home and used immediately is better flour than any you can buy. Wheat germ, part of the wheat kernel, goes rancid pretty fast once it's broken or milled, so what you buy in the store is either inferior quality or has the kernel removed for longer shelf life - which is inferior nutrition.

That makes feed store wheat a lot more frugal in several ways.

1. It's cheaper. You can still buy wheat for a lot less than you can buy generic white, bleached flour (the cheapest of all flours).

2. It's more nutritous, having had nothing removed from it for any reason - and it hasn't set on the shelf, losing B Vitamins over time before you even see it in the store.

3. It has a much deeper and clearer flavor than premilled flour. If you've ever eaten it, you'll never be satisfied with "whole wheat" bread again.

4. It's more filling - more food than fluff. A glass of milk and a slice of real whole wheat bread will fill almost anyone up.

If you don't have a feed store in your area, maybe a day trip would put you in reach of one. As a last resort, you can buy wheat online. The shipping can be high, but if you go together with a friend, you will probably be able to buy enough to make it worthwhile. Remember to figure the cost against the cost of flour, and if you're really fair, figure it against the cost of the best whole wheat flour you can buy.

If, on the other hand, you're just frugal, figure it against the cost of the cheapest white flour you can buy. Chances are real whole wheat flour is cheaper. Then add in the rest of the benefits and it's still the most frugal flour ever!


  1. I've actually been meaning to ask someone this. I bought 100% whole wheat chappati flour at the asian food store. I really like it because it is fine ground like regular flour, but has like 5X the fiber :) however it just sucks up liquid, so everything I make with it comes out DRY DRY DRY-my chocolate chip cookies barely stuck together, I had to roll and squeeze them into balls. My pie crust I had to add extra milk to and it came out like a cracker. . . . and those were both 1/2 regular flour and half wheat.

    I'm at a loss, do I add more liquid or more fat? does it depend on the type of baking? (I haven't had a problem on things like pancakes, I just add more milk and it is fine)

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Hi, Jenn -

    I had the same problem with my whole wheat biscuits. Found a great tip online, and started substituting yogurt cheese or even yogurt (mine's homemade) for all of the fat. My biscuits are great now, really moist and light. I use applesauce for the fat in my wholegrain muffins and cornbread, it works fine.

    And to Pat - I've tried to buy grain at feed stores for grinding. But I'm consistently told that it's not fit for human consumption, has added pesticides, etc. How can I tell if that's true? Is there any difference between "food" grain and "feed" grain? thanks1

  3. Jenn, I should have added to my post that it takes less whole wheat flour than white flour. About 7/8 cups to 1 cup of white flour, I think.

    Valerie... look at it this way: What do they do with the wheat at the feed store? They feed it to animals... which they then feed to us. Feed store wheat is safer than eating meat. In meat, pesticides and other chemicals are more concentrated because the animals eat a lot more of it than we do.

  4. I seem to remember reading ages ago that its to do with the sharp edges of the whole fiber in the wholewheat - it makes the dough less elastic and doesn't hold together, so you also need more fat. I've tried googling it but can't find the source of this....

    I think you can also add a little gluten flour to improve bread texture.

    I don't think it makes it less healthy to use a little more fat - esp if you choose a good natural butter or olive oil - as it helps to make it satisfying and you'll be less likely to snack!

  5. the chapatti flour is ideal for making wheat "chapattis" or tortillas. it does absorb a lot of water. not the right flour for cookies.