As I was mixing up some sourdough pancakes last night (I mix them up the night before and cook them in the morning) I was thinking about an area that I should have mentioned for my Real Food Challenge. In January I decided to quit buying white flour, at least for us to eat. I’ve always purchased some organic white flour to keep in the pantry. I do however have a beautiful grain mill and a variety of whole grains for grinding.
About 80% of the baked grain products we eat are made with 100% freshly ground whole wheat flour, but I often mixed in some white flour to keep the light texture. So our pancakes would be half white, most of the bread I made was about 20% white since I used to feed my sourdough starter white flour. In January when I ran out of white flour I simply quit buying it. I’ll buy any I need in the future in small quantities from my health food store (I still use it when making bread/baked goods for gifts and when we have guests).
Surprisingly we haven’t even noticed. The last batch of cookies I made were 100% freshly ground white wheat and you couldn’t even tell. That lemon pound cake I made was 100% freshly ground white wheat and the guests at the party I took it to didn’t even notice (I asked a few).
When you grind your grain fresh it doesn’t have that bitterness that preground whole wheat flour can have. That bitterness is actually the oil in the flour going rancid – YUCK! That’s why whole grain items often have a bad reputation of being bitter and bad. You also have to learn a little about the different kind of wheat and when to use them. I buy hard red wheat for bread and soft white wheat for cookies, cakes and other things. If you’re wanting to switch to whole grain bread I’d highly recommend Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor and Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours.
This choice is part of our effort to reduce our food down to the lowest possible denominator. As much as possible we’ve been trying to replace items with options that are as close to the natural form. So instead of rolled oats, we switched to steel cut oats, then we switched to oat groats. Instead of purchased pasta we started making our own, now we’re switching to homemade with freshly ground flour. One of the wonderful things about doing this is that you learn to appreciate each food as close to natural as possible. It’s amazing the differences you notice. The taste is often more complex and the texture is usually better as well. This year we are going to be able to use mostly maple syrup for our sweetening needs because of the great season, it sure does make a difference in chai tea and coffee!
Are you a whole grain or a white flour kind of household? Have you ever thought about the different levels of processing in foods?
I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Ethel Gloves, Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.