For the avid bakers, bread makers and bread lovers among you I wanted to share some information about the world of flour. When we moved here from New Zealand I searched high and low for good bread, without satisfaction I started to bake my own. Working in the health field I read the label of everything I buy that is already made, which to be honest is not much. I try the best I can to make as much of the food we eat from scratch. In a busy life we often can't find the time to prepare, proof and bake bread though, it is a process! However, the health benefits, taste and texture make it so worth while. It has made my heart happy to work with 61 Hundred Bread and Rye Goods as they use freshly milled flour and I feel incredibly satisfied to promote their products on our offerings.
After a while of bread baking I started to question the flour I was buying at the store. Of course it was organic but I started wondering about the refinement process and the probable lack of nutritional value we were really getting from it. I came across an amazing book written by Joseph Shuldiner - The New Homemade Kitchen. For those of you that enjoy cooking from scratch this is a fabulous resource. In this book Joseph explains the truth about grains which turned me immediately to buying only fresh milled flour from that point forward.
Fresh milled flour was the way flour used to be produced: stone-ground, whole-wheat sold in old fashioned flour sacks. As cheap high-volume producers started making flour it became far too labor intensive and costly to continue producing fresh milled flour, so it became a thing of the past. Thankfully the wonderful resurgence of the modern bread making era has brought this old-fashioned process back to life. The first thing you notice is the cost difference from store brought flour, but the nutrient content and flavor make it worth the investment.
Store brought flour is most often high volume, commercially processed and refined, making it devoid of nutritional value. Even organic flour often falls in this category. Refined flour is made of grain that has been stripped of it's germ and bran. This part of the grain contains protein, B vitamins and trace minerals so is an essential component to receiving health benefits from the bread we eat. Store brought bread is not only made with refined flour but other additives to keep its shelf life. There is no need for me to point out how hard this is for the body to process, often a large contributor to people having gluten sensitivities. It is very common that people who think they need to avoid gluten have far less issues digesting bread made with fresh milled flour, and no additives.
The other resurgence we see is the rise in sourdough bread. Sourdough bread is made with fermented starter mixture. The slow fermentation process of sourdough improves the bio-availability of essential nutrients making them easier for the body to absorb. It also offers healthy bacteria, less yeast and fewer preservatives. Not all sourdough is made equal - store brought sourdough is often made with yeast so they do not need to wait for the long rise time of true sourdough bread. If you are buying sourdough research it first. 61 Hundred Bread and Rye Goods make traditional sourdough for optimal health benefits and digestibility.
Let's be honest - there is not much better than a freshly baked loaf of bread! I personally use Hayden Flour Mills products which I am adding to the Provisions for those among you that want to make the switch. I have researched their company and process and feel very happy to promote them. I do have to adjust my recipes to account for this constitution difference of fresh milled flour - either more liquid or less flour is required for the same end result. Hayden Flour Mills have many products on offer. Currently I have added their version of all purpose flour that I use for baking and some bread recipes. I have also added their Artisan bread flour which is delicious and their Red Fife mini crackers - fresh, delicious and preservative free. If you see a particular product on their site you would like please let me know so I can get it in the next order for you.
A note from Hayden Flour Mill: "Taste the grain. It's wheat you can eat. Never bleached or enriched. Always fresh. Our flour is simply stone milled: an old-world process that allows the flavor and personality of the wheat to shine through. Our customers who had sworn off gluten (over-processed, bleached flours) for good, tell us that they can eat our grains and flours without issue!"
Any flour questions please feel free to reach out.
Shuldiner, J. (2020) The New Homemade Kitchen. 250 Recipes and Ideas for Reinventing the Art of Preserving, Canning, Fermenting, Dehydrating, and More. Chronicle Books.