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Contrary to a few popular dietary theories, the human race is well adapted to the digestion of grains. It is NOT however, adapted to the digestion of contaminated baked goods and processed foods.
Good whole grain, freshly milled, and baked or cooked into homemade food, is excellent stuff. It is one of the really special foods for healing a body, provided you have healed sufficient to digest proteins well. (For the record, there was a time when I was gluten intolerant, but this reversed as I healed.)
The TYPE of grain that is best for each individual varies with your own genetics. I do well with cooked oats, freshly milled Hard White Wheat flour (but not Hard Red), and with Spelt, Rye, Soft White, and Durum Wheat. I don't do well with millet, or kamut, or quinoa. White rice is just so much starch, but I love Brown Rice, and Wild Rice, and they are good food for me.
Grains are very much a traditional food, but only when they are INTACT, and freshly milled, rolled, or cracked. Once they start to oxidize, they are not as healthy. And when they've been commercially refined, much of the good has been removed - Commercial "whole wheat" flour is anything but!
Wheat Berries Fast and Tasty
Need more whole wheat in your food? Wheat berries are a fast and easy way to add it, if you plan ahead just a little.
Whole wheat (the entire grain) can be cooked on low overnight in the crock pot. In the morning, drain it, and package it up in half cup amounts and freeze it. It is then ready to be added on impulse to all kinds of things.
1. Cereal. Add brown sugar, heat in the microwave, makes a traditional chewy breakfast cereal. You can add milk if you want.
2. Add to oatmeal. Adds texture and nutritional variety to oatmeal.Really good with cranberries.
3. Add to soups and stews. Just toss one bag in for a little extra interest in the soup, just like barley.
4. Add to rice pilaf, or fried rice.
5. Add to chili, or to casseroles.
6. Add to hot or cold salads.
Boiled wheat berries are really good in a lot of dishes, and most of the time half a cup is about right to add to a pot of soup - just enough to know it is there, not enough to dominate.
Guide to Buying a Grain Mill
I have milled wheat for many years, with the help of my kids when they were growing up, and without their help when they were young and after they left home. I have used many types of mills, and have seen many kinds in action. This is an overview of the ones I've used.
I have an old Magic Mill, which is a sturdy and long lived thing, but which does not mill fine. It is great for meal, cracked grain, etc (though it does not produce evenly sized particles, it is always a mixture). These are workhorses that can always be repaired.
I also have a Blendtec, which is my favorite mill of all time (they may be calling it K-tek again). (This is the best price I've ever found on one, and this is a good company to buy from. Blendtec Grain Mill) I had one when they were K-tek, and wore it out - not because the motor or parts failed, but because it got dropped one to many times. That is their only drawback - the design makes them awkward to hold onto while you clean them, and my kids dropped the top. Some people complain of the noise but it has never really bothered me. This is an impact mill, requires almost no maintenance, just clean it each time and dust out the filter.
It mills very fine, and is fast. It does not do meal, though it will produce a slightly coarser flour. But I love the cake flour texture that it produces. Best flour from any mill I've ever owned, and I've owned a few! Also one of the most economical, price generally runs under $200.
The Whisper Mill we owned was garbage (badly designed, clogged, broke, and eventually the motor died after we had only owned it for about 2 years). Horrid thing. And just as loud as the K-tek. It had a curved tube running from the mill to the flour bin. BAD idea, you can't clean it. It cracked where it attached to the bin lid, and was not repairable. It also required resetting a breaker on the bottom of the unit from time to time. Not easy to do in the middle of a batch.
The K-tek knock off (Vita-Mill) was badly designed, they closed up the side vent, and put the filter somewhere else, but the motor still blew hot air on the plastic housing where they'd closed it off, so that melted, and the mill blew flour all over through the hole in the housing. It was not repairable, and happened after we'd owned it for only about a year. It also had a plastic hopper that sat on top of it, which was supposed to allow you to put more wheat in it at a time (the K-tek has a small hopper that only holds about 3 cups of wheat). Unfortunately when you actually put wheat into the hopper, it just spilled out at the bottom of the hopper where it sat on the top of the mill, because the hopper was not anchored down in any way, and was too light to hold the wheat in! Pretty pathetic.
My mother owned an old electric mill which had three spider legs on it, and a metal grinding stone. It milled very fine flour, and had a bag with elastic at the top, which fit over the milling stones. It was a messy thing to use, and slow. But it produced good flour. If you ever see one of these used, it will be worth $50 or so if still operational.
If you are going to mill a lot of grain, a dedicated grain mill is well worth it. While some blenders will grind grain, they do very small amounts at one time, are slow to do it, and produce fairly coarse flour. They are only really an emergency option, not a full time all the time option.
I have also always chose to NOT use a Kitchenaid grain mill, in part because of the flour quality (they don't mill as fine as a Blendtec grain mill), and in part because I don't want to wear out the Kitchenaid milling grain, which is a heavy duty task and puts a lot of stress on the motor. A Kitchenaid of the size I need is more costly than a grain mill.
For hand crank, a Country Living is the BEST. It will mill fine flour. But it is also EXPENSIVE. It is hard to crank, the extension bar for the crank wheel is a good idea to reduce the stress. It can be adapted for electric.
Any hand crank wheat mill is hard to crank, and producing flour is slow. The cheaper they are, the slower they are and the coarser the flour.
AVOID those $20-30 cheapie hand mills. They are made of aluminum, which will grind off into your flour, and they bend and wear way too fast to be useful. We got one to do meal, and to crack grain for our animals. Not worth the price, even so low!
A better option for cracked grain is an oat roller, which does a MARVELOUS job of rolling oat groats, but will also crack grain. It says it will make flour, trust me, it won't. But it will make good meal, but it is also HARD to crank when you are doing hard grains. Easy for oats, they are soft. Hard for corn or wheat.
It helps if you can actually see a mill in use before you leap, because things that bother one person do not bother another, and each family likes a little different functions.
What I can tell you is, fresh flour is nutritionally superior, contains the germ, and your body will notice the difference. Good fine flour (Hard White Wheat is AMAZING!) is usable for anything that you'd use white flour for.
This is one appliance that I simply do not live well without.
About Sifting Flour
I got a new wheat mill. Well, a used wheat mill. But it is the first old fashioned wheat mill I have ever owned, or used. The previous wheat mills were all stainless metal burr wheat mills.
This is a stone wheel mill, in a wooden box.
The adjustments are kind of funky. The settings are not the way the instructions say they are, they are about a sixth of a turn further clockwise than the instructions say, and you can only tell this by fiddling with it. So the first few times I used it, I learned why the sifter was invented, and why we have no real idea what "sifted" flour originally meant!
Biblically, the word "sift" does not mean to fluff, separate, or add air to the mix. It means to SORT. To select out the finer, nicer bits, so that the coarse bits can be either re-refined, or discarded.
If you are being Sifted, you are being tested to see whether you are sufficiently refined, or whether you need to be sent back for another lesson, or cast aside entirely.
The flour was a mixture of grainy and fine. The larger pieces were like medium to fine cracked wheat. The smaller particles were actually flour - a barely mealy flour, but usable for breads and cookies. Not fine enough for cakes or pastries.
So I pulled out a wire mesh strainer, and started shaking the flour through it, so that I had only the finer grind. The coarse grind went into a separate jar, to use as cracked wheat. I got half a gallon of sifted flour, and half a quart of cracked wheat.
You see, in earlier years, this is how wheat was ground. In some form of stone mill.
It could be a bowl and stone, hand ground (very time consuming, and the texture would be dependent upon the time invested). It could be ground in a hand powered small mill, or in an ox powered or water powered larger mill. But until the processes were improved dramatically, the output was very much as I produced on the first attempts with my new mill. Usable for bread with some cracked wheat in it. NOT preferred for fine baked goods, and not terribly good for thickening sauces or gravies (too mealy).
So out came the sifter.
Historic recipes called for "sifted" flour, to specify FINE flour. Later, they continued to call for "sifted" flour, simply because the measurement was a bit different, and it handled a little differently in some recipes. But generally it does not matter now.
It is one of those tools that has continued in use, when largely useless, simply because at one time, there was a DIFFERENT need for it than now.
But when that wheat mill produced coarse flour, how thankful I was that I knew that I could sift it, and come up with flour that was suitable for a light textured bread.
Next time I'll know how to set the mill better, to get a better result the first time around. But if I need to sift the flour to remove a few larger particles, I am equipped to do so, and know that this is what the sifting tool was originally intended for.
The information on this site is presented for informational purposes only, and consists of the opinions and experiences of the site authors. It is not to be construed as medical advice or to be used to diagnose or treat any illness. Seek the assistance of a medical professional in implementing any nutritional changes with the goal of treating any medical condition. The historical and nutritional information presented here can be verified by a simple web search.
I do what I do because I understand the science behind it, and I've researched worldwide sources to verify the safety of my practices to my own satisfaction. Please do your own research, and proceed AT YOUR OWN RISK.