You may or may not know, depending on what posts you've read of mine, that I make all our bread. Well, ok, on those very rare occasions when we have hot dogs (gaaack) I might buy buns. But otherwise, since last winter, I decided to save some money, get healthier and make our bread. I use a recipe given to me by my mom-in-law. It's a whole wheat recipe that you can put together and use your bread machine to knead and do the first rise. That's great 'cause I don't have to do the kneading!
I have a friend that's very into healthy eating. She makes all her family's bread, to the tune of five loaves a week, though she usually gives one away. She also makes tortillas, waffles, pasta... all that stuff. And she uses her own fresh ground wheat. She heads up a shopping group that orders wheat berries (that's what you call the grains) from a company and has them shipped bulk to save money. There are quite a few people in this group. They order hard and soft white and red wheat, spelt, kamut, and I'm sure several other grains. These usually come in 50# bags or 45# plastic tubs. Now, you have to have a grinder in order to use this stuff. My friend has a grinder. It's niiiiicccee! Expensive, but nice.
Let me pause here and answer a question you may have.... One loaf of bread takes about three-and-a-half cups of flour. The grinder grinds about 8 cups of berries at a time, which yields about 12 cups of flour.... That's a lot of flour! Doesn't it all go bad before you use it up? (There, right there, that was the question. Did you catch it?) First of all, you typically don't grind it all at once, because it would lose much of its vitamin content due to time. However, you can prevent this by freezing the flour. More on that later. But no, the wheat and grain berries don't go bad as long as you keep them dry and pest free (no bugs please). When archaeologists uncovered the tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt, there were some tombs that contained pots with wheat berries in them. Much to the scientists' surprise, these berries were STILL viable and sprouted when planted, after centuries in a tomb! Some of the folks in the ordering group went a little overboard with the Y2K scare and ordered a BUNCH of wheat berries. I guess some of them are still using the last of that supply with continued good results. Now, didn't God just know what He was doing?
Anyway, this friend of mine, Tomi is her name... she called the other day and said that there was an extra 50# bag of hard white wheat left and wondered if I'd want it. She said she'd grind it for me if I could put it in my freezer. Um, let's see... fresh, whole wheat flour.... 50# of berries for $27..... Yeah, I'll take it. So I went yesterday and she let me use her machine to grind the last little bit of berries so I could have the experience using the machine (it's a Nutrimill if you want to know...http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/nutrimill.asp). She also gave me about 12 cups of soft white wheat flour for use in no-yeast baking, like for cookies or pastries. So now I have a ton of whole wheat flour in my deep freeze which should last me well through the winter.
I've been using store bought whole wheat flour for my baking up to this point, but even the 'whole wheat' from the store isn't really whole wheat. It doesn't contain the bran or the germ, which is where most of the nutrients are. So I've been adding wheat germ when I bake. NO MORE! I was so excited about this flour that I came home and baked a new loaf last night, even though we still have part of a loaf left. This loaf baked up so high and nice, it's amazing! I think I'm ruined when this flour runs out. Maybe I can be like the widow that fed Elijah during the famine and it'll never run out......