Whole grain flours: How do I get started?!
Yehoshua holds the mixer for Eliyahu's birthday cake --
(whole wheat strawberry shortcake)
One thing that has my interest piqued is all of the whole-grain flours that you use. I am curious about how to go about using all the different flours, but I have to say I am really very overwhelmed by it!! I would love to get a grain mill one day, but I don't know where to begin!! I am concerned about purchasing wheat in bulk and becoming overwhelmed. Do you have any suggestions of where I should start?
I'd love to share about how I got started grinding our own grains. (And maybe some of my readers can chime in with their stories or encouraging tips!)
When I got married, I vaguely knew that some people ground their own wheat for bread -- but it seemed really "out there" to me! Who would go to all that bother and expense?! ;)
I do love homemade bread, though, and I started learning more about the nutritional benefits of using whole wheat flour for bread. After reading about the processing of white flour, and comparing the benefits, there's no doubt that whole grain flours are much healthier.
About a year ago, Joshua started talking about getting me something for my birthday/our anniversary. After a lot of talk and thought, I determined that a grain mill was something I really, really wanted -- to have the convenience of fresh flour at my fingertips!
A few months later, we ordered a Wondermill. I have enjoyed it so much!! Freshly-ground flour tastes so delicious; many people are amazed when they find out that what they're eating was made with 100% whole grain flour!
Before you buy a mill
Before making a larger purchase like a grain mill, I think you should evaluate how much use you'd get from one.
For someone who only occasionally bakes, buying a grain mill might not be worth the expense. But if you bake frequently and/or are determined to experiment with and perfect whole-grain bread or other foods for your family, then a grain mill would be very useful! :)
However, you can get started using whole grain flours even before you have a mill; check a bulk foods store, natural foods store, or even larger grocery stores: you should be able to get smaller quantities of various flours to experiment with!
Also, I have found that grain prices are usually very comparable for ground (flour) vs. whole grain, so (unfortunately? :D) grinding my own flour doesn't help my grocery bill, even discounting the cost of the mill to get started. So, I consider my grain mill to be an investment towards healthier eating, but not the most frugal route. It's well worth it to me, but everyone has to weigh their own desires and preferences. :)
If you're in the market for a grain mill
There are lots of reviews online about various grain mill models. There are a number of different kinds of mills, as well.
There are pros and cons to just about everything, so we had to weigh electric vs. non-electric, stone vs. micronizer, etc. Your needs or wants may be different from ours, so you'll want to do your own research! :)
We chose to get a WonderMill, which cost $239 (free shipping). We've used ours for 7 months so far, and I have been very satisfied with it. It is small (grinds 12 cups of flour at a time; you can empty the bowl and grind more right away) and fits in a cupboard (since counter space isn't plentiful for me); it's fast (takes just a few minutes) and supposedly quieter than any other micronizing mills -- although it is still quite loud, like running the vacuum.
After you have a grain mill
Life is full of new things to learn, and it doesn't have to be overwhelming. :) There's so much more I want to do and know, but I have to take things little by little. :)
I do buy my wheat in 50-pound bags, but only because I know we'll use that much in a relatively short amount of time (less than 2 months). I buy other things in smaller quantities, and trust me -- there are a whole lot of things I haven't even gotten to try yet! ;)
I try to take things slow and not jump into anything too quickly, which for the most part prevents waste due to whim. :)
So, to summarize: As with anything I share, remember that my life is a process of growing and learning! We're all at different places in life, and while what may seem overwhelming to you is "everyday" to me, there's plenty that you and other people do which I haven't even attempted to get into. :)