29 September 2008

Proving our bread wheat

Mr. Fritillary set himself the task of figuring out how to thresh our bread wheat this rainy weekend. Surprisingly, the meat grinder did the best job of it. The blades chop the heads, but very few of the grains. And we were threshing some of the last of the wheat that was harvested damp, so not the easiest to thresh.

This is the chaff and kernels after going through the meat grinder once.

We winnowed it a few times using a small house fan. The chaff easily blew away, leaving behind a mostly clean grain. This is where Mr. Fritillary brought it into the kitchen and let me take over the fun part, as he dilligently ground away a rainy day. After picking out a few bits and blowing away some of the finer chaff, this is the end result. It is actually cleaner than the organic grain we have been buying.
We always knew that the locally grown organic wheat kernels we were buying were a bit on the small size, and I could never make a decent loaf of bread using these kernels alone. I had to add some commercial bread flour, or end up with either a dense undercooked loaf or a gaping cavern in the middle. Here is a comparison of the purchased organic kernels on the left and our homegrown wheat on the right. Judging by kernel size and the amout of gluten inside of them, we were pretty confident it would make decent bread flour on its own.For now I am just using a roller mill to grind my flour. Mr. Fritillary is busy setting our little stone flour mill up on a bicycle, it is hard cranking by hand.
The flour is coarse and full of bran. It can be separated into flour and bran, but we enjoy a more rustic bread.
It makes a sticky dough, unkneedable. I mix it with a spoon until I can see the strings of gluten forming and it begins to come away from the sides of the bowl.
Beautiful rising loaves. This dough is very delicate and can easily flatten.
I got it in the oven just a few minutes late, and the top flattened out a bit. But overall, not a bad loaf. I think it needs to be baked at a higher temperature. This is not prize winning bread, improvements will be made. But our homegrown wheat proved to be worthy of bread flour!

Apple Butter on a steaming slice of bread?


Chiot's Run said...

Looks great. I started grinding my own wheat this year, I also use the bran and the flour. The apple butter looks fantastic as well. YUM YUM, looks like a great fall dinner.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

It looks like your wheat is much, much better.

While at a poultry seminar in Virginia, a number of years ago, we worked 2 days at a Mennonite farm. They had a wonderful wheat grinding set-up with a old exercise bike that they had picked up for a song. We all took turns at the bike, and if was almost effortless, compared to handgrinding.

Cindy said...

Oh how awesome! I bet that bread is a helluva lot healthier then that white dense tasteless crap at the stores. Seems like so much work for a loaf of bread compared to opening a bag of flour...but of course that work makes the bread that much more fullfilling to the soul as well as I body I think.

I *love* your blog. Please keep us wannabe homesteaders updated on your daily work!

*when you have time of course ;)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I'm so glad you decided to blog, my friend. You've got a lot to teach us! :)

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

susy, Thanks! It was delish, and I can't wait to try our wheat with those sourdough recipes.

Throwback at Trapper Creek, yes we have researched similar designs on the net. Mother Earth gives a good diagram for converting a flour mill to pedal power. Our legs are equivalent to a 5 hoursepower motor, not bad, may as well use 'em!

Cindy, Hi! It does look like quite the process for a loaf of bread. It is basically a zero net gain cycle... The garden feeds us, and the energy we get from the food is used to grow more food. But the benefits are not those that can be calculated. Anyone who has tasted that first homegrown ripe tomato or fresh salad knows the sense of joy, accomplishment and wholesomeness in learning to provide our own basic needs.

Once our systems are set up, we will be able to process the grain with less effort and time. The hard part is thinking and tinkering to create a system that works for us.

farm mom, well thank you so much. I learn from and enjoy reading your blog as well. I think each of us are pioneers in a new world.

It's me said...

Can't say much more than that... I'm blown away by your life, and look forward to reading more.

Saw you over at "Women not dabbling...". And btw, there's a pdf of a pedal powered grain mill at "Friends not dabbling...". Just FYI.

It's me said...

PS... also thought of you at http://sustainableseedsystems.wsu.edu/nicheMarket/smallScaleThreshing.html

Plans for a threser and seed cleaner thingie. :)

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Thank you meadowlark! I have searched the net for small scale grain machinery designs, specifically threshers, but did not come up with this. Looks great, gives us some good ideas.

Friends not dabbling is new to me, I'll have to find it out. I love the women not dabbling blog.

It's me said...

When you stop by "friends not dabbling" I've also posted a couple of websites where there is a ton (I do mean TON) of 3rd-world country "how tos". Lots of good stuff, from the Scythe handbook, to solar cabinet dryer, to "How to make tools" to "handloom construction". There is over 13 gig of information... all downloadable as pdfs, which I'm putting on dvd so if the grid goes down I can still access the information with my laptop and a solar charger! :)

Anonymous said...


I have to second Meadowlark.


My wife and I have a ten year plan to make a move similar to this. It is so heartening to know that it (with work, sacrifice, and heart) can be accomplished in this day and age.

With Best Regard,

Chicago Mike

Anonymous said...

Also, as a child lepidopterist, loved the reference!

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

meadowlark, thanks for the tip, I've joined the group and look forward to exploring.

chicago mike, it can be done, there is another way to live in our world today! Glad you got the reference, the profile picture helps. *smile*