Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat

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Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival

Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor SurvivalWhen I first started prepping, I was befuddled about wheat.  I just simply did not understand why the heck anyone would want to store wheat for survival purposes.  After all, you don’t eat it in its raw form?  Or do you?  And what about cooking with it?  Being a bit naïve at the time, I assumed that the only thing you could do with wheat is turn the wheat berries into flour and then the flour in to baked goods. It sure sounded like a lot of work to me and hardly worth the effort.

Luckily, I was sent a copy of How to Live on Wheat by John Hill and I woke up to both the long term storage and nutritional benefits of wheat.  I learned that storing wheat and using wheat was not a burden at all.  All I needed was the proper mindset to learn to cook with wheat (and other grains) and I was off and running.  Sprouted, wheat, popped wheat, cooked wheat cereals and of course breads and pizzas – all of these things and more can be prepared from stored wheat.

Now I have to admit something to you.  In spite of my good intentions, I have not learned to actually grind wheat into flour.  Not yet, that is, and truth be told, I feel a bit guilty about it.  What kind of prepper am I if I do not grind my own wheat?

Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor SurvivalSo, as I do from time to time, I was chatting with my online pal Ron Brown and telling him I needed to get going with my wheat grinding initiative.  I was thinking I would get myself an old fashioned grinder with a hank crank and give this wheat-ground-into-flour business a try.

And again, as he frequently does, he said he could offer up some tips.

How to Grow, Grind and Cook Wheat

You asked about grinding wheat on home scale. Please know that grinding is the middle of a three-stage process. First of all, you must grow the wheat . . . or otherwise obtain it. Then you grind it into flour. And, lastly, you convert the flour into something edible.

Growing wheat is a low-tech process. But that’s not the same as NO tech. A hammer is pretty low-tech. But you still have to know which end is the handle.

If you set out to grow your own wheat, best you know the “fly date” in your region for the Hessian fly. Else, after many hours of toil, you will harvest nothing.

So some homework is in order. Small-Scale Grain RaisingGrowing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival by Gene Logsdon is the best book out there.

Then comes storage. Insect eggs are already on or in the grain when you put it in storage. Untreated, your carefully tinned wheat will spoil from the inside out. Heat, dry ice, and diatomaceous earth are all preventatives as well as opportunities for more homework.

At this point you may ask, “Why bother? I live in town. I’m not going to grow my own wheat. I’m going to buy it at the health food store. Or, better yet, why can’t I just buy already-ground flour and store that?”

The answer is shelf life. You may be able to store flour for a few months or even a few years. But sooner or later it will turn rancid. And in all likelihood it will “get wormy,” as my farm-bred mother phrased it.

In contrast, unground wheat berries (given the right moisture content, protected from insects, etc.) will potentially last for decades if not centuries.

So much for the wheat berries. The next step is grinding. How best to do that?

Grinders and Grinding

If you have electricity, a ten-speed blender offers the biggest bang for the buck. The procedure is to blend a cup of wheat, sift it, re-blend the tailings, sift them, repeat, repeat. You can either invest in a good blender or buy an armload of cheapies at yard sales. (Tip: Blenders are most often located between the National Geographic’s and the faded plastic children’s tractors.)

If you plan to ignore electricity and go green, please know that you are joining a fairly elite club. I remember years ago, back in my homesteading days, when the minister and his wife stopped by the house for something or other. The good reverend surprised me in the garage where I was cranking away.

“Wadda ya doing?” he boomed in his best hale-fellow-well-met voice.

“Grinding flour from wheat,” I answered.

“Outta sight!” he proclaimed. Then spun on his heel and joined the ladies in the kitchen. (Ministers are not exactly renowned for getting dirt under their fingernails.)

Simple hand-crank wheat-grinders can be had for about $30 on eBay. They clamp to the counter top and resemble meat grinders. There’s certainly nothing wrong with have one tucked away.

But don’t believe the claims. You will not grind flour in one step (i.e. one trip through the grinder). You will not get a cup of flour for one-and-a-half minutes of grinding. Including set-up at the start and clean-up at the end, an hour of hand-grinding will provide enough flour for two loaves of bread. But, hey! It’s eco-friendly, right?

Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival      Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival

My one word of advice is to stay away from stone grinding wheels. The stone will not be a natural stone anyway. It will be a man-made carborundum wheel, just like the grinding wheel on the knife sharpener out in the workshop.

I can predict with 99% certainty that the wheat you attempt to grind will be too moist and your stone wheels will be glazed over and useless within minutes.

Stone-ground flour evokes images of the candlelight era of the 1800’s. It’s more romantic-sounding than flour ground on “steel burrs.” But when it comes to a choice of being artsy-fartsy versus actually eating supper tonight, forget the stone. This is the voice of experience talking.

Using Your Home-Ground Wheat Flour

Now that you have some wheat flour, what do you do with it? It will be noticeably coarser than store-bought brown flour. If you use your hand-ground flour in your bread machine, please expect abysmal results; it will NOT be a family favorite.

One suggestion I’ll make is to try roti, a simple Indian bread. In large areas of India, roti served with mung bean soup is the dietary mainstay, eaten daily. I was introduced to roti by Indian friends in Canada. They came from modest backgrounds but were quite well to do by the time I met them . . . as in, he gave his wife a Mercedes for her birthday . . . that kind of well to do . . .

Roti is a no-yeast, whole-wheat bread, simple to the point of primitive.

DIRECTIONS: Mix 2 cups brown flour, 4 teaspoons cooking oil, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Take a gob of dough the size of a golf ball and roll it out THIN. Fry it in a non-stick pan (no oil). When it starts to bubble, take it out of the pan (with tongs) and toast it directly on the stove burner (i.e. the flame of a gas stove). It will puff up like a balloon. (You’ll find other techniques on YouTube.) Paint your roti’s with clarified butter using a basting brush. Done.

No need to get super-scientific about clarified butter. Melt some butter, pour off the clear liquid, and leave behind the residue in the bottom.

Serve your fresh, hot roti’s with split pea soup. It WILL be a family favorite. Not to mention it will for sure impress your Indian friends.

Some Facts About Wheat Used for Baking

There are two types of wheat commonly used for long term storage: hard red and hard white. 

In the simplest of terms, red wheat, when used in baking bread, will result in a dark, dense, whole wheat loaf whereas white wheat will be more delicate in both taste and color.  Both types are fairly equal nutrition-wise with the exception that red wheat has slightly more protein.

To get a bit more technical, the terms red and white are used to identify the color of the kernel and not of the flour that is eventually milled from those kernels.  Most people do not know this but hard white wheat was actually developed from hard red wheat by eliminating the genes for bran color while preserving other desirable characteristics of the red wheat.

Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival

A major difference between the two types of wheat is flavor.  For some, red wheat has bitter taste that does not exist is white wheat.  For that reason many people prefer white wheat because reduced bitterness requires less additional sweeteners in the final product.

So what does all of this mean?  At the end of the day, the type of wheat you choose for baking (and for long term storage) is really a matter of preference.

An Action Plan for Wheat

Coming up with an action plan for adding wheat to your long term food storage is easy.  Get some, store some and use some with the emphasis on the USE SOME.  As with anything else, having some #10 tins or 5 gallon buckets of wheat will not do you a whole lot of good if you wait until a crisis or TSHTF to learn how to use it.  When that happens, you will have too many other problems to deal with to even think about learning to cook or bake with wheat.

On the other hand, with time on your side, you can learn to make pan bread or Ron’s Roti (but please use a cast iron skillet instead of a non-stick pan) as well as your own sourdough starter, sprouted wheat berry salad and more. As you become more experienced, try your home ground flour in artisan breads and pizza crusts (which, by the way, are fabulous when made in a cast iron skillet).

If you still have doubts, read Why Store Wheat – Wheat 101 for Newbies and you will be motivated if not hooked on grains.

The Final Word

Some of the best prices around for hard wheat (red or white) are LDS Cannery stores or even the LDS online store.  In addition, you can purchase 40 pounds of Thrive hard white winter wheat for $37.29 through my Shelf Reliance Online Party.  (This is less than the Costco price.)  Of course there are plenty of other sources as well – just be sure to shop around since prices do vary considerably.

The other thing to keep in mind is that while an electric grinder is nice to have (albeit expensive), it will not do you a lot of good in a grid down situation.  For that reason, you may want both a hand grinder as well as some buckets of pre-ground flour put away for long term storage purposes.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye

Bargain Bin:  Ready to get started with wheat?  Here are a few choices of grain mills plus some books to get you started.

Victorio Deluxe Hand Operated Grain MillGrowing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival:  The Victorio Deluxe Grain Mill has an easy to use front dial that makes adjusting texture from fine to coarse simple and easy. Adjust coarse; for cracked grains or fine; for bread quality flour.  This is perfect for small batch baking and of course, a grid down situation.

Wonder Mill Grain MillGrowing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival:  This is the grain mill that I covet -some day perhaps.  In the meantime, readers have emailed me about the Wonder Mill and have told me it is quiet and fast.  It just works.

Blendtec Kitchen Mill – Electric Grain Grinder:  This is another very popular grain mill.  It comes with a sox year warranty is a less expensive than the Wonder Mill. Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival

How to Live on Wheat:  There is so much more to this book than wheat.  It addresses grains and legumes of all types and includes storage tips, sprouting instructions and recipes.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home BakingGrowing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival: At an average cost of 50 cents a loaf, this bread is easy, delicious and inexpensive to make.

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free IngredientsGrowing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival: Ditto.

Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned SkilletGrowing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival: This purchase changed the way I cook. I se my cast iron cookware for everything from salmon, to bacon and eggs, to biscuits. For under $20, there is no excuse not to own this survival basic. Don’t forget the Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers, a must have for cleaning those food bits from your cast iron cookware.

Small-Scale Grain Raising:  This is the book to get if you are planning to grow your own wheat.


 

Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor Survival

This month they have a 397 piece first aid kit on sale for $28.99 which no a bad price if you need a kit to get you started. This first-aid kit comes organized in a soft-sided travel bag and it also includes a bonus mini backpack which is great for having first-aid items on-hand anywhere. Once you have these basics, you can start adding additional emergency supplies such as some Quick Clot and Israeli Battle Dressings.


 

Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat   Backdoor SurvivalShelf Reliance Virtual Party: Are you a fan of Shelf Reliance and Thrive products? Backdoor Survival is hosting a virtual, online Shelf Reliance party with discounted party prices and some special packages not normally found at the Shelf Reliance site.

As a matter of fact, all of the packages you see available at Costco.com are available at my party and at better prices too!


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Comments

Growing, Grinding and Cooking Wheat — 14 Comments

  1. While I haven’t ground wheat flour myself, I agree, How to Live on Wheat is a very good book to have.
    Also, Donna Miller of Miller’s Grain House in North Carolina has a lot of good info about grinding and using wheat in recipes. She teaches classes in her area for newbies and has a very instructive little book on baking bread called Whole Wheat Bread Making. Her site is at http://www.millersgrainhouse.com

  2. Nice article with good info, just a little fyi that i learned from my grandparents. My grandparents lived into their late 90’s and one of the things they would talk about was making it through the depression and lessons learned. how to barter and sell milk, eggs, meat and skills. Wheat (even though they did not grow it in the Pacific North West) was a great staple. easy to store and transport. Back then they along with others would cook and bake with a wood fired stove. Today we have it much easier, but not necessarily better. I bought The Wonder Junior Grain Mill at Pleasant Hill Grain a couple of years ago (hand powered) it works good. Currently i am adding to my wheat stock by getting my wheat berries from Walmart. they come in a 5/6 gal square 26 pound food grade plastic bucket for just under 14.00. i go to my local Walmart and save on the shipping. When ever i grind my own wheat it takes me back to my grandparents house, sitting around the fire (TV off) playing board games and smelling what ever was in the oven that day. Bill B

    • Bill – I just checked and Walmart has some great prices on wheat. Not only that, it looks like shipping is free with a $45 order. I am going to look into this further and if true, I will post a note on the Sunday Survival Buzz.

      BTW, we still play board games :)

  3. Dear Gaye, this is a fabulous topic! The storage life of wheat is amazing. I recently discovered wheat berries in a grain mix that I bought on sale. It included wheat berries, white rice, tiny pasta and spinach/tomato poweder. I’ve cooking it with lentils for complete protein and it tastes wonderful. However, when I tried to buy it elsewhere than the salvage place I originally found it, the price was SIX times as high. So I plan to buy wheat berries and cook my own mix. Note that the wheat berries, lentils, and white rice all have to be added to the pot at different times. The berries really add life and texture.

  4. Very well written article. I have the Country Living Grain Mill, and although I don’t have the electric set-up – the manual works just fine and makes my grains into the best flour. I had to wait many years to buy this Mill, but am so glad I waited for it.

    • Mimi – I went to the Country Living Grain Mill website and discovered that they are located relatively close to my location in Washington State. I sent them an email and asked if I could come visit and write about them on Backdoor Survival.

      From what I read, motorizing their mill invalidates the lifetime warranty. So, the question is this: how long does it take to grind a pound of wheat into flour manually?

  5. I have to agree on the Country Living Grain Mill, you will only have to put your grain through once. They are the best mill on the market, save your money and buy the best.

  6. Way back in the 70’s, a good friend gave me a super-duper electric grain mill. I knew if the power went down, I would be up the creek. I tried something that worked out well. I took the wheat, added the liquid in the receipt, and let it set over night. The next day, the wheat was plunp, and most of the liquid was absorbed. I then just ran the mush through a meat grinder. I used it like flour and water, and it came out great…

  7. I have been grinding my own flour using a very old hand grain mill since 1978, so I consider myself as knowing something about grinding wheat for baking home made wheat bread using both Hard Red and Hard White wheat. I question what your friend told you about the amount of time it takes to grind the wheat to make two loaves of bread. I don’t know how much wheat berries he has actually ground or the kind of grinder he has used, but it only takes us 6 minutes to grind the 6 cups of flour needed for two loaves of bread. Plus, I have never had to re-grind my flour to make it finer. My flour is perfect the first time through the grinder, and it only takes me a minute and a half to grind one cup of berries, which equals one and a half cups of finely ground flour. Because I use my hand grinder weekly, I have a grinding table with my grinder permanently affixed and clean up time is quick and easy. I don’t believe my success in grinding my own flour is unusual, and I hope your readers will find the joy I have had over the years in grinding my own flour for baking bread. I could not tell you how many hundreds of pounds of wheat berries my husband and I have hand ground since 1978, but I can tell you there will be many more to come before we quit grinding wheat with my faithful old hand grinder.

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