Book Review: Flour Power by Marleeta F. Basey
Book: Flour Power: A Guide to Modern Home Grain Milling by Marleeta F. Basey
Publisher: Jermar Press
Publication date: 2004
Source: Purchased on-line
Summary: Flour Power remains the only book on the topic of milling flour at home. The first question, of course, is why would you want to?
Apparently, flavor is the most important reason. I tried freshly ground flour a few times with a hand mill before it broke and didn’t notice that much difference in taste but I also didn’t feel like I developed enough experience to take advantage of the possibilities.
Nutrition, then, is the reason behind my interest. It turns out that when I buy whole wheat flour, what I’m really buying is highly processed white flour with some of the bran and germ put back in at the end. Not exactly the whole natural product that I intended to buy. If I want whole wheat berries ground into flour, the only way to get it is to mill it myself.
Also, there’s a time element. The nutrients of whole grain flour begin to disintegrate the moment that it is ground. I’ll get the most nutrients in my bread by milling the flour just before I bake the bread.
The advantages to home-milled flour are covered in the first half of Flour Power. The second half covers how to choose a mill, how to find and buy whole grains, and some advice and recipes for using freshly ground flour.
Thoughts: I tweeted a few days ago that I was going to buy myself a flour mill for my Christmas present. Trish (Love, Laughter, and Insanity) and Christine (The happily ever after…) were intrigued so I thought I would share my process. Maybe y’all can finally get me to act on this.
I read Flour Power in March of 2010, about six months into my weight loss journey. After reading the book, I wanted a flour mill. I spent a couple of months researching possibilities. I have a spreadsheet! There are many choices and it’s both a cash-consuming and space-consuming purchase, so I wanted to get it right.
Before I was ready to make a decision, I reached a point where I experimented briefly with a lower-carb diet. So, that was another complicating factor. When I reached my goal weight, would I still be baking and eating enough bread that I could justify milling my own flour?
Now, I’ve reached my goal weight. Since every one of my Weekend Cooking posts in October included a bread recipe (Applesauce Bread, Pumpkin (Winter Squash) Yeast Bread, Sweet Potato Yeast Bread, and Whole Wheat Flax Bread), I think we can safely conclude that bread is part of my healthy maintenance plan. In that last bread post, I wrote about how I cope with having fresh bread in the house even though I’m a recovering overeater (Tips to stop overeating fresh bread). Bread baking is enmeshed in my identity as a woman, including emotional ties to Grandmother Hoover and Aunt Mart and untold numbers of other ancestresses. There is a lot that I have given up to be a healthy weight, but bread isn’t one of them.
So, it’s time to make a decision on a flour mill already!
Here’s what I’m considering:
Family Grain Mill — multiple components including a food processor (my big food processor which just had its 26th birthday is on its last legs, so that’s a plus), a meat grinder (Rick’s allergic to red meat so we don’t trust any ground meat products, but we would if we ground our own), and a flaker (make your own rolled oats). If I bought all that as one package, it’s nearly $500. But I could just buy the base and grain mill for $270 and add other components later if it worked well for me.
Nutrimill — a self-contained unit for a little less money than the Family Grain Mill ($250). The Nutrimill doesn’t have all the flexibility, but it seems like a simple and clean solution for me. This seems to be the most popular model available today.
KoMo Classic Grain Mill — This one is pricey at $500 but, unlike the other two, it’s beautiful enough to have a place in my kitchen rather than be stored in the pantry and pulled out for use.
Your thoughts: Do you grind your own flour or know anyone who does? How would you go about making a decision like this?
Weekend Cooking is hosted each week at Beth Fish Reads. Visit her post today for links to other posts around the web featuring cooking and eating.
You’ve done an outstanding job on this post. It’s like reading something from America’s Test Kitchen because it’s so well researched. I committed to baking bread fourteen months ago and feel the same way about flour quality as you do. I opted to buy my flour from either from a local mill specializing in certified organic flours or from Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur. I like buying products from specialized sompanies that keep up on the research and are quality driven. In your neck of the woods, you’ve got artisan organic mills like Heartland Mills and Great River Milling. Have you ever tried their products? Looking forward to hearing what you decide and have a great weekend!
I’m so glad to discover your blog via a Twitter follow today. I have the Fidibus version of the KoMo grain mill and have used it for roughly 7 years now. I can’t speak to how it compares to the other options you’re looking at but I’ve been nothing but pleased with mine. It is certainly an investment but it’s a very well-made and solid piece of equipment. In addition to being a simple way to grind enough flour for immediate use, it provides consistent texture, is easily adjustable, has never bogged down while grinding, doesn’t “dance” across the counter when operating, doesn’t make any kind of a mess when it grinds and is really a pretty darn attractive appliance. Whatever option you pick, I hope you’re pleased with it!
Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Very helpful!
I’ve always kind of wanted a grain mill, but truthfully, I think adding an additional step to my bread baking would probably result in the end of my baking.
I am so interested to see if you enjoy using your mill or if it ends up sitting in a cupboard.
As I baked another sourdough bread last night, I know exactly what you mean about it being a staple in your diet. Quality and time are important reasons to consider milling at home (not in the same category, but this is how I started grinding coffee at home). As long as you have easy access to whole grains I would say go for it. I’ll keep following this to take advice!
I am SO impressed! The thought of milling my own flour has never crossed my mind…
A whole book about flour! Wow. Good luck with the baking/milling, Joy. Have a great week.
This is so interesting! I didn’t even know that such things could be done at home! What a great idea! I can’t advise you on your choise, because I know nothing about it, but I hope you will find one that fits your wants and needs 🙂
What thorough research you did (though I would expect no less!). This is a wonderfully informative post, thanks for sharing.
Impressed that you’re interested in milling your own grain! Looking forward to hearing more :).
I remember helping my parents grind wheat with a handmill, probably about 30 years ago. They were going through a major health food kick at the time. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you do!
First of all – wow. That’s so awesome that you are maintaining and not cutting out bread…that would make me sad. I’ve always contemplated buying a mill, as well. But really, I don’t know where to start. I look forward to hearing your decision and how it works out for you!
This is so fascinating to me but I have to agree with Candace that another step would mean less baking (not that I’ve successfully made bread anyway…). I remember when I was doing the Eat it Real challenge last year someone mentioned a flour mill and it never occurred to me that folks milled their own flour. Although I have to admit I do have my eye on some pasta makers. 😉
Thanks for writing up the post, Joy!!
Great post, Joy! I’m so excited you’re finally going to take the plunge into home flour milling! I bet you’re going to fall in love with your own flour. You will be telling all of us that we have not yet tasted home baked bread until we make it with our own freshly ground flour!
Do you already have a local store/source for buying the whole grains which you will use to grind your flours? That would be a deciding factor to me, as well as the shelf life of the whole grains. Do they go rancid quickly like flax seeds? Or are flax seeds so quick to spoil because of their high omega fat content compared to other seeds/grains?
I’m so excited for you! lol
My understanding is that whole grains don’t go rancid — you can still bake bread from the wheat that was buried with the Pharaohs! Once the grain is ground into flour, then it can go rancid quite quickly.
very interesting post. I have not considered grinding my own grain. heard that people do it, but I think I would do it once or twice then put it away. I look forward to reading more about this adventure.
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