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Grind your own grains, let your baking flourish

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Just in time for Christmas baking! Or, no matter what time of year you may read this, the information will still be of value—a pox on that additive-riddled powder they call flour in stores, you can make your own with little effort. No need to go out and find a friendly neighborhood miller, or grind grain with rocks, the average kitchen is fully equipped to make flour out of dry grain.

The easiest for those who want to start with something simple is the everyday oatmeal flour, ground from plain rolled oats. Not that sickening fake oatmeal they put in little packets, loaded with sugar, artificial flavors and other unholy chemical terrors. The stuff used for this purpose will be what your grandparents ate for breakfast before going out and walking a mile to school when it was forty below, uphill both ways, in knee-deep snow, all year long. The kind that sticks to your ribs, mouth, whatever it was cooked in, and could easily substitute for mortar in low-budget buildings like the nursing home they probably live in now.

Some grind-it-yourselfers claim all grains, before processing at home, need to be soaked at least overnight before hitting the home gristmill. Not necessarily true—if your recipe calls for the flour to be mixed in with a lot of wet ingredients, that may work. If you choose that path, prepare for a mess of gargantuan proportions. This is more often called for when working with really hard grains such as wheat kernels, dried beans (yes, they are often used as grains), or rice. It depends a lot on what type of kitchen gadget you tend to prefer for the job. The newer food processors, blenders, even, and basic food choppers may be up to handling tougher materials with a little longer buzz-time. The older models may need the softening effect instead. However, if you decide to soak your grains, a good measure is to carefully dry them out again before dumping the mess into your gadget. Otherwise, they could end up moldy and you’re making flour, not blue cheese, so that’s not a great idea.

Different food processors, etc. have different capacities, settings, blades, you name it. You won’t be grinding concrete blocks, though, so this is an “eyeball it” kind of thing. For oats, as chosen here, buzz them until you see the transition from flakes to fine powder. You should remove the flour-to-be from the container to sift it or at least stir it around (lacking a sifter) at that point, then return it for another session of grinding. Again, depending on what you intend to do with it, you’ll have to gauge how fine you want your flour.

The advantages to all this hassle are great: you have the freshest possible flour and get to choose which kind it will be. As well, there will be no preservatives, no conditioners, no artificial colors, flavors, enzymes, or anything else nature didn’t intend to be there. In many cases, the product will also be cheaper. Looking for whole grain flour these days that won’t cost several dollars? Lots of luck. Tired of whole wheat that really isn’t, that has malted barley added, that has caramel color to make it look brown? Then make your own from whatever grain you choose. Want to sneak in some veggies, fruit, etc., when the family isn’t looking, like dried greens, shredded spaghetti squash, herbs? Here’s your chance, slip the wholesome nutritious stuff into the processor when they’re not in the vicinity. Hit the high-speed button when no one is looking and they’ll never know they’re getting the extra dose of vitamins.

It’s not a matter of only being sneaky nor of saving money, it’s about ensuring your food has the most pure ingredients possible from scratch. Whether you grow your own stuff or shop at a natural food source, farmers’ market, or the woods, you do have options. You don’t have to settle for what some factory food producers decide is good enough for you and your family. You can take control over what you use to cook and bake with.

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