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Making your own flour can be a challenging and time consuming procedure, but it can also be fun, educational, satisfying and delicious. Here are a few tips when milling your own flour.

Choosing Grains
Fresh grains are the key to milling your own flour.  Local suppliers are often the best place to find fresh grains.  Processed grains lose nutrients quickly so it is important to purchase only what you need for your recipes.  If you are buying a large quantity of grain, make sure you ask your supplier for suggestions on how to store your grain to prevent insect infestation and rotting.

Generally, there are two types of mills, stone and metal. They operate by forcing the grain between two wheels (one moving and one not moving). The wheels are very close together and as the grain passes between them it is finely crushed. The type of mill that grinds a grain has an effect on a flour's performance, flavor, and nutrition. The best flour comes from stone-ground mills where layers are flaked off the grains. This milling process does not overheat the flour, so nutrients are retained.

An alternate method for milling fresh grains for immediate use is using a food processor.  This process can be used for most grains.  To do this, soak 1/2 to 1 cup of the grain for 3 to 4 hours in half of the boiling water that the recipe calls for.  Grind the soaked grain and water in a food processor until a smooth puree is formed.  Mix in some of the dry flour, and add to the rest of your ingredients.

If you do not use all the flour you have milled for your recipe then store it immediately in the freezer. Flour will keep about a month in the freezer. It's always good to have some "emergency" flour in the freezer just in case you only need a bit. Do not keep fresh milled flour out at room temperature as it will spoil and lose most of its nutrients after only 72 hours of exposure to room conditions. Nutritionally, it is a good idea to discard flour that is old or bitter, as this bitterness indicates the oils in the flour have become rancid.  Rancid oils are linked to free radicals and oxidation of the cells. If you really must use the flour, you can freshen it by dry toasting it in a skillet over medium heat, shaking constantly, until it emits a pleasant scent.

Would you like to know more?  Try some of the following books about milling your own flour:

Flour Power by Marleeta Basey
Complete Guide to Cooking and Baking with Fresh Ground Flour by Christine Downs
The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes by Beth Hensperger

Find these books and others at Barnes and Noble!