What’s that thing that you are so glad you purchased, that you’ve never once regretted spending money on, or wished you bought sooner? For me, it’s my Vitamix.
I originally purchased this powerful blender to make my smoothies smoother (ironic, huh?). It purees up raw carrots, beats, nuts and greens like an extravagant science experiment. Since I bought it 5 years ago, I’ve used it for so many things. Recently I discovered yet another use for my multifunctional Vitamix blender: it duals as a grain mill.
There’s the stereotype that grinding grains is a long, difficult process only performed by Puritans or country folk. No one would be crazy enough to grind their own grains in today’s modern world. Why bother when we can purchase every variety of flour in the grocery store? (White, wheat, corn, lentil, rice, etc.)
I felt the same way until a few months ago. A blogger that I have followed for years shares awesome kitchen recipes, tips and recommendations for gadgets. She began to mention that she grinds her own grains. At first, I honestly thought she was extreme (especially since she grinds her own grains while raising 5 kids under the age of 5!).
But once I saw how easy it was, I was intrigued. And then I learned about the nutritional benefits and couldn’t help myself.
What are wheat berries?
I purchased a small supply of hard red and white wheat berries, which look like kernels of corn. These “berries” are ground up to produce flour. Hard red berries are most similar to store-bought wheat flour, while hard white berries make a finer flour similar to pastry flour.
Nutritional Benefits of Grinding Your Own Flour
Did you know that whole grains are considered to be a superfood? Wheat berries provide fiber, protein, antioxidants, minerals and B vitamins. They not only taste better, but they also improve your digestion, boost your metabolism, regulate blood sugar, and even prevent cancer.
Note: Store-bought flours typically strip the nutrients out of the grains in order to extend shelf-life. Therefore they have significantly less nutrients than freshly ground grains.
Cost comparison: Wheat Berries vs Store-bought Flour
Wheat berries cost slightly more per pound than a high-quality version of store-bought flour. However, 1 cup of wheat berries produce 1.5 cups of flour. Consider purchasing berries in bulk (like this 25lb bag of Palouse Hard Red Winter Berries or this 40lb pail of Augason Hard White Wheat Berries or try out the variety pack).
Plus, you’ve already purchased your grinder – your Vitamix! – so no need to spend extra money on a grain mill. Overall, I find that the cost is a wash, but the flavor and nutrition make it worth the investment to grind my own grains.
Types of Berries
Hard Red: Similar to store-bought whole wheat flour. High in fiber and whole bran. Produces more dense breads. Protein content of 11% (hard red spring) – 14% (hard red winter). Best for heartier baked goods or whole wheat breads.
Hard White: Similar to store-bought whole white wheat flour. Best for recipes used with yeast. Protein content of 11%. Best as an all-purpose flour.
Soft Red: Protein content of 10%.
Soft White: Protein content around 12%. Best used for recipes with baking powder or baking soda. Bread rolls, pie crusts, pastries and cookies are made best with soft white berries.
Bread is best with a hard berries. But opt for soft berries when making anything that isn’t kneaded, such as pancakes, cookies, pastries, biscuits, or pie crusts.
You can view a full nutritional comparison of various wheat berries here, including protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty-acids.
- 2 cups of wheat berries, any variety
- Place wheat berries in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
- Pour 2 cups of wheat berries into the Vitamix container. Note: Do not add more than 2 cups of wheat berries at a time. You can add less than 2 cups if needed.
- Turn on and gradually increase the speed to variable 10 and then high. Run for 45-60 seconds, until the berries are thoroughly ground. Note: Do not grind for more than 90 seconds.
- Use the fresh flour in place of store-bought flour at a 1:1 ratio.
- Store your wheat berries in a dark, dry, cool place (40-60F is recommended). I store mine in the freezer for two reasons: 1. I can ensure that no bugs will get into them and that they will not sprout due to humidity. 2. Grinding cold grains ensures that they do not get burned when I grind them in my Vitamix.
- Never grind more than 2 cups of grains at a time. It will become too hot in your Vitamix and may burn the grains.
- Do not run your Vitamix for more than 90 seconds or the grains will become too hot.
- 1 cup of wheat berries yields roughly 1.5 cups of flour