Why Grind Your Own Grain?

Sure, grinding your own grain can save money on your grocery bill; quality whole grains are usually inexpensive, especially when purchased in bulk. And yes, it’s true, breads made with freshly ground flour often taste better; they have a wonderful, nutty flavor, far superior to the taste of store bought breads.

Most important, though, is that freshly-ground grains are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and beneficial enzymes that are paramount to your health, especially if you are also “soaking” the grains overnight, like quality bakers and traditional cultures have practiced for many years. Freshly ground grains give you the full nutritional benefit of the entire kernel of wheat: endosperm, germ, and bran.

Let’s take a brief look at how commercial grain is milled today. Typically, large rollers crush the grain, and it is then separated or sifted into different areas depending on various factors, such as the fineness of the flour. The bran and the germ are totally removed in this process, yet they hold most of the nutrients. Often they are passed on to use as feed for livestock. What’s left (mostly starch and moisture, with a bit of protein) is used for white flour.

It’s staggering when you consider that 95% of the flour sold in the US is white, without the beneficial bran or germ, and has also been bleached. Most commonly, it has been bleached with benzoyl peroxide, the same chemical used to treat acne. Did you know that it’s explosive in large quantities?

The whole wheat flour that you can purchase in the store is a slight improvement, but not by much. The bran is added back in, but the germ is still left out, because it is oily and tends to go rancid quickly. The germ, though, is loaded with lots of powerful nutrients, like vitamins B and E, protein, and minerals.

Store-bought breads just add insult to injury. Not only do manufacturers use inferior flours, but chemicals such as propionic acid, sodium propionate, calcium propionate, and potassium propionate are often found in these breads. In Germany, these preservatives have been banned for over twenty years due to research conducted that showed a correlation betweens rats fed these preservatives and the development of tumors.

Perhaps the most convincing research can be found in the paper “Nutritional Characteristics of Organic, Freshly Stone Ground, Sourdough & Conventional Breads,” published by the Ecological Agriculture Projects team at McGill University in Quebec. This is their finding that stood out to me the most:

“The nutritional importance of using fresh stone-ground grains for bread-making was revealed in the results of feeding studies in Germany (Bernasek, 1970). Rats were fed diets consisting of 50% flour or bread. Group 1 consumed fresh stone-ground flour. Group 2 was fed bread made with this flour. Group 3 consumed the same flour as group 1 but after 15 days of storage. Group 4 was fed bread made with the flour fed to group 3. A fifth group consumed white flour. After four generations, only the rats fed fresh stone-ground flour and those fed the bread made with it maintained their fertility. The rats in groups 3 to 5 had become infertile. Four generations for rats is believed to be equivalent to one hundred years in humans.”
In light of this research, and the fact that as many as 1 in 6 couples now struggle with some level of infertility, reconsidering our daily food choices is not only important, but perhaps even critical.

Convinced, but worried that grain mills are too expensive? Pray that God opens a door for you to find an inexpensive mill to get started. I found my current Messerschmidt mill on Craigslist a couple of years ago for only $60, and it had only been used a couple of times. I’ve also seen some older, manual mills at thrift stores. Once we knew that grinding grain was a practice we would continue, we began budgeting for a new, higher quality mill. We’ve been saving for the once-in-a-lifetime purchase of a Tribest Grain Mill, and we hope to reach that goal this summer.

I think I’ll let the white flour sit on the supermarket shelf and keep on grinding my own fresh flours for our family. How about you?

[UPDATE AUGUST 2010:  In June we purchased a new mill.  It is the German version of the Wolfgang Tribest Mill I linked to in the post above, and it is called the KoMo Fidibus Classic Mill.  We love it!  Look for a review about it here soon!!!]
Check out Real Food WednesdayFood Renegade, and the Nourishing Gourmet for more real food philosophies and recipes, and Works for me Wednesdays for living simply tips.
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  1. I am so proud of you. I wish I would've raised you guys the healthy way. Keep up the good work. Love you

  2. Great post, and scary information!

    I finally received my once in a lifetime purchase of this very grain mill today! It was on back order since November, so I've been waiting for several months. I'm so excited to begin grinding my own grains. My organic wheat berries will be ready to pick up at our local health store soon. This is my first grain mill, so it will be a new experience for me.

    I ordered from this website: http://www.yourethecure.com/cart.php?target=category&category_id=344

    I'm sure you know that it's a German mill, and is called KoMo Fidibus Classic. Though I had to wait a while, I had no trouble dealing with this company, and I saved a bit of money too. It's about $70 cheaper than Amazon.

    I hope you're able to get one this summer. Good luck!

  3. Mama, thanks, and love you :o)

    Jen, thanks for sharing the info on the KoMo. I checked out the Classic and it looks great. Apparently they are from the same company, but one is intended for marketing to Europe and the other for the USA (being imported by Tribest). Let me know what you think after you've used it a few times! I might get the KoMo, too, and save a few dollars :o)

  4. I grind my grains with my Vitamix's dry blade. It doesn't stone grind, but it's fresh. I only grind grains when they're frozen, so everything stays cool. That oughta be OK, right?

  5. wow - I didn't know all of those things about white flour and breads. I did know that whole wheat flour and breads are lots healthier and love to grind my own whole wheat flour and oat flour because of that. Thanks for the info!

  6. So cool! I love grinding my own grains. We're gluten free and so many of the grains we can eat are really expensive in the store. I have the Family Grain Mill and love using it. Thanks for your post!

  7. Until you can afford a grain mill, <a href="http://heartkeepercommonroom.blogspot.com/2007/05/blender-pancakes.html>I've got a recipe from Sue Gregg's Breakfast Cookbook</a> that has some good recipes for making pancake batter and a couple other things by putting the liquid and the fresh whole grains in your blender for freshly ground whole wheat pancakes.

  8. Hello. This is a very good article on the goodness of freshly ground wheat. I like it because of the light sweet taste it has. Store bought flour, I find, has a bitter taste to it! I was thinking that maybe it might be a bit ransit. I am so thankful for a sister at my church that has a grinder and am going to buy some wheat from the health food store for her to grind.

    Thank you.

    PS could I post this article on my blog and make a link to your blog?


  9. Cheryl, sorry for the delayed reply! You may post a portion of the article on your blog, then post a link to my blog where your readers can finish out the article on my page. Thanks for asking!

  10. Jaime,

    I cook/bake the traditional way too :)
    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get a grain mill yet. Thanks for the reminder of why it's important to grind our own grains. Do you know anything about grinding them in the food processor after soaking them? I have a recipe book that states that you can "if you food processor has a good motor". I just don't want to break my food processor!

  11. Mrs. Q, Thanks for popping by! I've never tried to grind grain in a food processor, so I regret that I can't give you any suggestions there. I would imagine, though, that even if the motor was strong enough it would give you as fine of a grind as you may prefer. If you still opted to try it, I would process the dry grain, then soak it after, not before. Hope that helps!


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