It’s been an exciting time at Green Acres Farm (Kemberton, Shropshire) recently. Mark and Liz bought a new stone flour mill.
Isn’t it a beauty? It travelled from France all in the time of Brexit and COVID (the brave thing).
Mark and Liz are busy working out how to use it to get the best flour. Milling is a complex business. There is a lot to learn.
I have the great fortune of trying out the flour as they learn the art of milling. This week it’s Mulika that I am testing. Mark chose to use this as the first grain to test the mill as it is a modern wheat. These may be easier to mill than the more complex heritage grains that they also grow organically on the farm.
The mill grinds the wheat between two stones which means that the resulting flour is a lot darker than white flour from a roller mill.
Stoneground Versus Roller Milled Flour
A roller mill shears off the bran and the germ from the endosperm (the starchy white centre) separating them completely. You can read about the composition of the wheat grain over on Veg Patch Kitchen. The endosperm is then passed through the rollers until it is very fine making the very white flour that most of us are used to. When wholemeal flour is required then the separated bran and germ are added back into the white flour.
When wheat is ground between two stones, the wheat is crushed and all of the constituent parts of the grain come off the stones producing wholemeal flour. If you are milling for wholemeal then the first chute underneath the two stones can be opened. If you are milling for white flour the wheat goes through three different grades of sieve. First is the finest grade of sieve, which shakes out the white flour through the first chute. It is a beautifully fine flour but much darker than roller milled white flour. Semolina (larger particles of crushed wheat grain) comes out of the second chute and the bran comes out of the third.
This dark colour is because the flour still contains a high percentage of the germ and some of the bran from the wheat. This makes the flour much more nutritionally valuable than roller milled white flour. The final loaf is closer to the colour of a wholemeal rather than a white loaf.
The loaf on the left is made with fresh yeast. The loaf on the right is a Mulika white sourdough. The flour is incredibly silky and fine. The presence of the germ makes a stickier dough than a roller milled white flour, making it more difficult to handle. However, you get the benefit of additional aroma, taste and nutrition.
The future of flour
Mark and Liz of Green Acres Farm are part of a growing network of farmers, millers and bakers in the UK working together to deliver regional grain networks. The future promises a true farm to table culture for flour. Instead of buying a bag of uninteresting roller milled white flour from a blend of modern wheat grains grown for yield over taste, increasingly we can buy flour that has the variety stamped on the bag. We can increasingly trace the flour back to the farm where it was grown. Varieties of wheat that are chosen for flavour and nutritional value rather than yield. Often, they have also been grown organically with care for the environment.
Once Mark and Liz have cracked the technicalities of milling they plan to have monthly flour sales from the farm. So if you are local to Shropshire, watch this space for more information on when you can begin to buy a month’s supply of freshly milled organic single variety flour.