|In the first of a series of posts on milling, following his introductory View from the Mill House, Hodmedod's miller (and engineer) Keith Malcolm takes a closer look at stoneground wholemeal flour to understand its properties and how they change with time.|
Stoneground wholemeal flour's greatest weakness is actually its greatest strength: it's not a homogeneous product - it still has life in it. Sure, it can be a little hard to get used to, but when you do you'll never look back. It's full of nutrients but to get the best out of it, it helps to know when it was milled.
Let's use a roller mill to have a closer look at your flour. Roller mills very efficiently split the flour into its components, making it easy to examine the different fractions:
The biggest fraction is the endosperm - the white stuff that makes up the bulk of the grain. Endosperm consists mainly of storage proteins and carbohydrates. When two of those proteins (glutenin and gliadin) join with water they form gluten, the sticky network of elastic bands that traps the CO2 bubbles in your bread. The endosperm's job is to store energy and roller milled white flour has a long shelf life and very little nutritional value. In fact, the nutritional value is so low that millers are required to fortify white flour with iron and vitamin B1.
Surrounding the endosperm is the bran, made from a wide range of proteins and fibre. Roller millers add some of the bran back to make brown flour. Bran takes longer to digest, meaning the nutrients are extracted further down your gut. Studies have shown that slowing down digestion and spreading the work to all areas of the gut is very beneficial for gut health and can protect against diabetes.
Lastly, there's the germ. This is the bit of the seed that grows into a new plant. It's full of oils, minerals, and vitamins including B1, B6, B12, and E. Roller millers send the germ off to be made into vitamin supplements.
We stone millers just smush the whole lot together. That gives you all of the nutritional benefit but you also have to deal with the temporal effects of the fats in the flour. And it's not just a simple case of fresh good, old bad. Here's a rundown of the timeline:
We give our flour 6 months shelf life, so if your dough is a bit hard to handle, use the date on the bottom to work out where in the timeline your flour is. You might find that it's improved after a few more days in the cupboard.
In my next post I'll have a closer look at the qualities of some of our flours.
|Read Keith's introductory View from the Mill House...|
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