About 17 years ago, my mother got her first wheat grinder. From the first loaf we made, we knew there was a huge difference in freshly ground wheat. Our bread didn’t even taste like wheat bread! It was so light and fluffy and had a beautiful mildly nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness.
Wheat Kernels – we use the hard white variety
Freshly Ground Flour – still warm and fluffy!
After some research, we quickly discovered that freshly ground wheat not only tasted better, but was much more nutritious as well. Below you will see a diagram of a wheat kernel. The germ is the baby plant that is waiting to grow – it has many vitamins, minerals, and even omega 3 fatty acids. The endosperm is food for the baby plant to grow – it is mostly starch. The bran is the tough protective outer layer that is where most of the fiber is found.
photo source: thegearedlife.com
White flour has had both the germ and the bran removed, and then is usually bleached to produce the beautiful white color. Often it will then be enriched with vitamins and minerals added back in after processing.
Whole wheat flour has the bran included – which increases the fiber content. However, the germ still must be removed because the fats in it will oxidize and become rancid. Often when you purchase wheat flour from the store, they will add in preservatives as well to further increase the shelf life.
The great thing about freshly ground whole wheat flour is that the entire kernel is still intact. You get the fiber from the bran, as well as the healthy fats and the vitamins and minerals. The trade off with this is that it is not very shelf stable. You must use the flour within 1-2 days or it will begin to oxidize and turn bitter. If the flour is stored in the freezer, it can last up to a month.
An electric wheat grinder like this costs $200-$300 and can even be found on Amazon.com
What type of wheat should you use? There are red and white varieties, as well as soft and hard varieties. Basically, red wheat variety has an additional color compound that also gives it a stronger, more nutty flavor. We like the white variety because it has a slightly milder, sweeter flavor – but it’s all up to your personal preference. The hard varieties have more protein than the soft varieties, making them better for breads whereas soft wheat is better for cakes or pastries.
There are many reasons why you should grind your own wheat. For flavor. For nutrition. For health. Not to mention, it’s cheaper and it’s just more fun! (If you want a great recipe for freshly ground whole wheat bread click here.)
Do you grind your own wheat? What are some of your favorite reasons and/or recipes that you use?