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 at a rock bottom price it is overwhelmingly worth the trouble.
Grain has three enemies; well, four really if you include millers that
denude the grain of the best part, and are duplicitous about the term
‘wholemeal’. They are the granary weevil, air and moisture; all three
can be devastating to those wanting to store their own grain.
For those determined to enjoy the nutritional benefits and wonderful flavour of real sourdough bread, all four have to be faced.
The first is the most difficult. You either have to buy your own mill, or find a small miller who does not separate the three streams and can sell you freshly ground wheat. 25 years ago we bought a Hawo and it grinds faithfully daily to this day. It was expensive at the time, but has paid itself off many times over.
Purchasing a wheat mill is a great investment, not only for having freshly milled flour immediately available, but also for the nutrition and well-being of the family. The importance of getting off of commercial bread made from refined grain cannot be overstated. So how much white bread is too much, asks Dr Oz? He reports that one large bagel for breakfast and two white slices for lunch amounts to seven servings with a 47% greater risk for stroke, according to research in BMJ.
Dealing with the weevil you either have to buy grain that has been poisoned with a chemical like Phostoxin, or buy a year’s supply directly from the farmer and then, after freezing it for two weeks in air- and watertight containers, storing 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 deepfreeze that will take at least one 25 litre air-tight bucket for two weeks. The wheat needs to be subjected to this freezing within three months of harvesting, preferably sooner, on the coldest setting, to kill both any weevils, and their eggs.
It is vital to keep both air and moisture out. Aflatoxins are deadly and certainly not to be underestimated. When the bucket comes out of the deepfreeze, 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 putting them in the deepfreeze but they tore and I do not recommend. Don’t try and save by buying recycled plastic!
So the first step is to place a large bag in the bucket, fill it to the brim with wheat, tie it tightly with string, squishing out as much air as possible, and 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 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 fatten. Whole grains are associated with loss of belly fat.
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This may all seem intimidating to someone who just wants to bake a couple loaves of decent bread every week. For me it just has been a most satisfying part of the real bread journey. A day in the country finding a farmer and bringing home bags of grain, and then the most wonderful tasting true wholegrain bread that is extremely healthy and doesn’t make you fat.
The lignans in the bran that help prevent breast cancer, and the vitamin E that is a natural anticoagulant alone make the journey worthwhile. Renowned cardiologist Wilfred Shute says that heart attacks were extremely rare prior to the milling of wheat. We either spend time on finding and preparing healthy food, or we spend a lot more time consulting doctors!
Type lignans into this search engine.
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.
Storing wheat correctly is important to prevent weevils, moisture and air from degrading the grain.
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