Rollin’ in the dough

Even zombies need a balanced diet

In our continuing effort to stuff our faces full of good food reduce waste, we’re trying to eliminate packaged cereals and bread products from the pantry. That was all but impossible until I discovered a local grain co-op that organizes quarterly shipments from The Bread Beckers, where you can order magical things like 6-gallon buckets of wheat for $38.00.

Lemme tell you, once you’ve ground your own wheat and baked a loaf of fresh bread, there’s no going back to the tasteless stuff trucked into the store.
At first, I was a little overwhelmed by the order form. How much grain would two people need for three months? What’s the difference between red wheat and white wheat? What the heck is hard wheat vs. soft wheat? Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:
  • White wheat is derived from red wheat but has a lighter color and less bitter taste. Nutritionally, they’re the same.
  • Hard wheat is a medium-protein grain used for bread and brewing; the soft white variety has very low protein and is used for pie crusts and pastries.
  • As to how much to order? I bought a 6-gallon bucket of hard white wheat six months ago and have only used half. It’s definitely way cheaper to buy in bulk like this.
  • We also ordered a 6-gallon bucket of oats, and that too proved to be a wise investment. From cookies to crackers to granola to baked oatmeal, we’ve all but ditched the packaged breakfast and snack products.
  • Using whole, unmilled grains requires a grain mill. Initially I planned to be a cheapskate and buy a hand grinder, but a friend in the co-op told me that his manual whizgig takes 20 minutes to grind just one cup of flour. He was afraid I would quickly become frustrated and give up on making our own bread. He was right. The electric mill is spendy but worthwhile, and I found a used one for half the price. It will certainly pay for itself over the years if we continue using it at this rate.

Bread Beckers also sells dried corn, and if our CSA ever stops providing corn meal and grits, I’ll start purchasing it as well. Good to know the electric mill is so sturdy, it can grind hard corn kernels into anything from super-fine masa to thick grits. And it works just as well on nuts.

If you’re a local and would like to join the co-op, post a note in the comments. Otherwise, why not start one up and draw your own mass of bread zombies ready to feast on grains.

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