Storing wheat is for all serious bakers of real bread. That may seem a schlep but for those wanting a ready source of freshly-milled 100% flour, it is overwhelmingly worth the trouble.
Wheat can also then be purchased at a rock-bottom price direct from the farmer. Can you imagine the most tasty and nourishing loaf in the world for less than half a dollar? Five minutes every morning is all it takes.
Grain has three enemies; well, four really if you include the millers who denude it of the best parts and are duplicitous about the term "wholemeal."
They are the granary-weevil, air and moisture; any one of the three can be devastating to those wanting to store their own wheat.
For those determined to enjoy the nutritional benefits and wonderful flavour of real sourdough-bread, all four enemies have to be faced.
The first is the most difficult. You either have to buy your own grinder or find a small miller who does not separate the three streams. One who will sell you freshly-ground wheat; it is unlikely you will succeed.
Thirty-years ago we bought a Hawo and it mills our wheat faithfully to this day; solid German engineering.
It was expensive but has paid itself off many times over. This is how you grind 100-percent real flour.
Purchasing a wheat mill is a great investment, not only for having freshly-ground flour immediately available but also for the nutrition and wellness of the family. The importance of finding an alternative to the commercial bread made from refined grain and loaded with chemicals cannot be overstated.
So how much white bread is too much?
Dealing with the weevil you either have to buy grain from the shops that has been poisoned with a chemical like Phostoxin, or purchase a year’s supply directly from the farmer. Then after freezing it for two weeks in air and watertight containers, store it in a cool, dry corner. A loaf a day means around 150kg of wheat per annum; more because friends and family will be clamouring!
That means a chest deep-freeze that will take at least one 25 litre airtight bucket for two weeks. The wheat needs to be subjected to this low temperature treatment within three months of harvesting, preferably sooner on the coldest setting; to kill both weevils and their eggs.
I now use 20-litre buckets; the larger ones were too heavy.
It is vital to exclude both air and moisture. Aflatoxins are deadly and certainly not to be underestimated. When you remove the bucket from the deep-freeze, humidity obviously will immediately condense on every surface; it has to be kept out.
Finding food-grade airtight buckets and heavy duty plastic bags was our biggest challenge.
Initially we tried placing the plastic bags in the deep-freeze but they tore and I do not recommend it; put them directly into the buckets.
Don’t try and save by buying recycled plastic; food-grade only.
So the first step is to place a large bag in the bucket, fill it to the brim with wheat and tie it tightly with string; squish out as much gas as possible. Then fit the airtight lid. After going into the deep-freeze for two weeks, you can store it in a cool, dry place indefinitely.
Wheat from the tombs of ancient Egypt has germinated and grown.
Now you have a source of wheat for your mill, sans dangerous insecticides for less than 10 pence; 170 sterling /2200 pounds.
How is that compared to at least 3 pounds per kg? Ask the farmer to put it through a coarse filter to get the worst of the dust from the fields and the chaff out. Make sure that it is completely dry.
Accept there will still be bits that end up in your bread. I fish the worst of them out as I am feeding the mill; what doesn’t kill, fattens, to use a favourite South African proverb.
Except this bread doesn't add inches. Whole grains are associated with a loss of belly fat. That is because it is a low GI loaf. Sourdough improves it further still.
This may all seem intimidating to someone who just wants to bake a couple loaves of decent bread every week. For me it has been a most satisfying part of the real loaf journey. A day in the country finding a farmer and bringing home bags of grain; and then the most wonderful tasting true whole slice that is extremely healthy and doesn’t make you fat.
The lignans in the bran that help prevent breast tumours; the vitamin E that is a natural anticoagulant alone makes the journey worthwhile. Both nutrients are extracted in the refining of flour. Renowned cardiologist Wilfred Shute says that heart attacks were extremely rare prior to the milling of wheat. We either spend time finding and preparing healthy food; or we waste a lot more consulting doctors.
Mopping up pesto and hummus with real bread after a hearty meal is so finger-licking good. Storing wheat is worth a thought for those serious about their food.
At the heart of the matter is the difference between real and fake bread; the former is praised in the scientific literature. Whole grains are extremely good for us; those refined are shockingly bad. They make us obese and are the under cause of type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Sourdough September is a movement in Britain seeking to bring back bread that is tasty and nutritious; a loaf that is interesting and won't make us fat.
South Africa imported R200-million's worth of wheat in 2020. The war in Eastern Europe will have huge implications for our bread industry. And the consequences of supporting the invader, by flirting with Vladimir the Terrible in the United Nations are yet to be felt.
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