Store-bought flour is a highly processed food that has been ground, filtered, and often bleached. The best parts of the grain kernel are removed (and sold separately as bran and germ for much higher prices), and less expensive vitamins are added before it is bagged for our use. Why not buy the whole grains, grind them yourself, and get a healthier result from it?
I became a grain-grinding devotee when a German coworker of my husband moved his family nearby. The first time we had dinner at the coworker’s house, I noticed containers of whole grains and an interesting kitchen device, which turned out to be an all-in-one unit with various attachments, including a grain grinder. I asked his wife, Bettina, about the grains, and she looked at me as if I were from Mars. She couldn’t believe that I didn’t grind my own flour, and I couldn’t believe that she did.
This project can be done only if you invest in (or borrow) a whole-grain grinder; there’s no shortcut. Bettina convinced me that my stand mixer could use yet one more attachment, and I got my own grain grinder. I am not yet at Bettina’s level baking, and I still measure obsessively, but I am a convert to grinding whole grains.
When you grind your own flour, grind only as much grain as you’ll need for your recipe, as the nutritional quality of the grain begins to deteriorate as soon as it is ground. One cup of whole grains translates roughly to 1 1/4 -1 ½ cups of flour, depending on the grind you choose. Your flour will be coarser than the refined flour you may be used to, and your baked goods may have a grainy texture (but my chocolate-chip cookies still get eaten!). Freshly ground whole-grain flour lends more of a wheat flavor to the food, which is why it is good in breads and other savory baked goods. Sweet baked goods are usually made with lighter, more refined flours.
This article was excerpted with permission from the book Urban Farm Projects: Making the Most of Your Money, Space, and Stuff, copyright 2014, I-5 Publishing, LLC. For more budget-friendly and environmentally conscience projects and recipes, pick up a copy today!