I am officially a wheat grinder.
Yes, I know.
One of my closest friends, that was her joke, in terms of this new world of whole foods. It's one thing to be avoiding processed foods and trying to eat better--but wheat grinding? Well, you've officially gone over the edge. I still laugh about it, because I never thought I would go there. And here I am.
A few months back, I
Grinding your own flour is less expensive because wheat berries are less per pound as compared to flour (at least any kind of whole wheat flour that I've seen) and one cup of wheat berries will yield anywhere from 1 1/3 to 1 3/4 cup of flour, depending on the variety of wheat berry you use. I've also heard that grinding your own flour is better for you, as a lot a nutrients oxidize within just a couple days of the flour being ground--but I've also heard that isn't true, so? With the health benefits, I guess you'll just have to make your own call.
As I have delved into this whole foods thing, I've learned a lot about flour. First, when you buy whole wheat flour at the store, typically it is made from hard red wheat berries, giving it the darker color. There is also hard white wheat flour, which is made from hard white wheat berries. These are a lighter color and don't have the strong bitter flavor that traditional whole wheat has. In most grocery stores, I've only seen the King Arthur brand selling white whole wheat flour, which is made from the hard white wheat berries.
I've come across a lot of testimonies that swear if you grind your own wheat and use hard white wheat, you can't tell the difference between freshly ground white wheat flour and all purpose flour. Snicker, snicker. Well, maybe they can't, but I still can. BUT before you write it off completely--while I can still tell a difference, hands down, freshly ground flour is better. It just tastes fresher. I am sure that is so incredibly helpful. But think about asparagus or broccoli--fresh is always better than frozen, right? How about store bought bread compared to homemade bread, fresh from the oven? Fresh is better. Heck, even Krispy Kreme doughnuts are way better all piping hot, compared the ones that were made 24 hours before.
Then about a month ago, I discovered soft white berries. These are different from their hard white wheat cousins. I read that they provide a lighter texture more suitable for baking goodies like muffins, scones, cakes, and cookies. So I thought I'd try some and I ordered some through my whole foods co-op.
They changed my life.
They are aaaa-mazing! With these, I can't tell the difference. Neither can Hubs. After doing a little more research, I haven't found that the nutritional value between hard white wheat and soft white wheat is hardly any different either. I think the protein value is like a gram higher per serving in the hard white wheat, and the iron value is slightly higher in the soft white wheat. The textures of the flours (hard white wheat versus soft white wheat) are very different as well. The soft white wheat is just a lighter and fluffier flour. I figure, as long as it's a whole grain, I am not going to sweat the slight difference in nutritional value--it's still whole wheat and if it tastes better, then I am all for it. You have to pick your battles, right?
While I haven't done a side by side comparison of bread qualities from both the hard white wheat and soft white wheat (yet), from what I understand, hard white wheat is more suitable for yeast breads and soft white wheat is more suitable for quick breads that use baking soda/baking powder for leavening. While I do bake my own bread, I still tend to do more quick breads like muffins and biscuits, so my pantry will be stocked with more of the soft white wheat berries, but I know I will still continue to use the hard white wheat berries as well.
So for the one, maybe two of you who might be considering a grain mill (wheat grinder), I say go for it....but that's just my humble opinion.