Some people ask me why I bother grinding my own wheat. Well, aside from the economical aspect (so much cheaper in the long run!), there is the health factor to consider.
Flour is used in most all baking. Pancakes, breads, muffins, cookies, tortillas, etc, and when a food is used so widely, it is best to make sure it has as much nutrition as possible in it.
Typical, store bought flour or bread is mostly devoid of nutrients, and the nutrients it does have are added artificially, by mandate of the government, because of the manufacturing of the flour.
This is a good chart showing the nutritional difference between freshly milled flour and store bought flour.
Whole Wheat Flour
All Purpose Flour*
Total Dietary Fiber
Your average bag of white flour in the store starts out with a whole grain. They then remove the wheat bran, the middlings, the germ, and the germ oil. What is left is a nutrient deficient calorie that we have acquired a taste for. It is a root cause for many health issues including diabetes, hypoglycemia, and digestive problems. The four parts that are removed are good for so much! Just take a look.
The bran: high fiber, assists the body to more rapidly remove wastes, toxins, and debris from the colon.
The middlings: high percentage of minerals and vitamins.
The germ: lowers cholesterol, reduce constipation and digestion problems.
The oil: very high in vitamins
With just the removal of the bran, this white flour is not easily digested. Although this flour is convenient, has a very long shelf life (hello, preservatives) and does bake up good tasting foods, it is devoid of nutrition. Just the commercial milling process results in a loss of at least 22 of the 26 known vitamins and minerals.
This is an amazing photo depicting the beginning, what is removed, and the end result.
Now, I along with a lot (say most) people enjoy fluffy, white breads, cookies, pastries, etc. But just because it tastes good doesn't mean it is good for you. And my entire goal here is to be as healthy as possible, with room for a bit of junk.
So what kind of grains DO I mill?
Hard red wheat is great for all yeast related cooking. It raises well, and produces a hearty bread.
Soft white grain is great for cookies, muffins, cakes, etc, and yields a softer pastry. Not to be used in yeast recipes, though! It's my favorite for pie crust.
The mill I have attaches to my Bosch mixer. Super convenient and grinds about a cup per minute. See? hardly any more work! Maybe an added ten minutes to my entire bake time.
I still occasionally do bake with refined flours. I'm not an extremest, you know, but I do want to raise a healthy family, and this is just one small switch I'm ok with doing. Baking my very own bread and pastries with the best flour I can possibly use; fresh milled grains fairly bursting with vitamins, minerals, and the essential nutrients needed to digest it all properly.
Besides, it's an adventure and an education for my kids! Getting the grain, grinding it, mixing and kneading it with other ingredients, raising it, and baking it into whatever we so please. I know where it came from. I know what it contains. Right down to the wheat germ oil. =)