The process of milling wheat is what turns whole grain into flour, the aim is just to make a consistent product, create a flour with predictable performance, and create a range of flour suitable for different functions.
Milling wheat is something that has been going on for a very long time, it is a process that has been perfected over the years, it has become an art form, and understanding the genius of how professional mill workers do this is something many of us find fascinating.
However, did you know that you may also be able to mill your own grains at home too?
Stay with us to find out how your flour is made, and how you could even go about making your own!
The Industrial Process Of Milling
The industrial milling process is different from how you would mill your own grains at home. Industrial mills are very specific about how the grains arrive to them, how they are milled, and even packaged after the process is finished.
It is a thorough process, so… how do they do it?
Before we get into the intensive manufacturing process of milling grains/ wheat, we have to first understand the components of a wheat seed.
The milling process for flour has grown a lot from what it started off as when wheat would be ground up between two very large stone wheels, although this process still occurs in mills.
In roller mills, the whole process is focused on the separation of 3 key components of a seed of wheat.
These three components are the outer bran layers, white endosperm, and wheat germ.
Each of these are made up of different materials, then they are separated and milled separately, the mill can produce finer flours which are much more ideal for the uses we have today.
Before the wheat even goes onto the mill floor it needs to be cleaned, after that it should be conditioned. After this, it passes through 2 cast steel break rollers, which are set just apart from one another.
The roller at the top will rotate a bit faster than the roller at the bottom so that when wheat passes through it will create the action of shearing, thus opening up the grains.
By opening the grains instead of pulverizing them gives the mill easier access to the particles of endosperm which are inside.
The many fragments inside of the grains of wheat will then be separated by weight and size, then going to pass through a very complex series of sieves, and plenty of other machines as well.
This is done to better isolate the three separate parts of the grain. Finally, the endosperm passes through very smooth reduction rolls, so that it can be finely milled into white flour.
In a majority of traditional mills, there can be 4 break rollers to shear open the seeds and then break open the sheared wheat some more, and there can be up to 12 reduction rolls as well.
Some of the particles of flour could pass through only one break roll and one reduction roll. However, the layers of bran and germ will usually pass through many rolls.
The process of milling in modern times lets the miller easily remove bran particles from the endosperm particles, then grind down the endosperm into flour and sift out the ground-up stock, and remove the flour made at each stage of this process.
Millers do sometimes blend different types of wheat before they complete the milling process to better achieve a certain grist.
Millers might also blend together different types of flour to better produce an exact specific product that is asked of them.
When they blend together different streams of flour, millers are able to make different variations in color and features.
A majority of white flour comes from the earlier streams, brown flour will go through most streams.
Wholemeal flour is only produced when all streams of flour, germ, bran, and such are all blended together again without any part removed.
Can I Mill My Own Flour At Home?
So, now we know how professional millers do it, but can we do it? Yes, we can!
You most certainly can mill flour at your home, but… why?
Well, milling your own flour at home, and making it yourself gives you the benefits of having a flour with a higher nutritional content and more fresh flavor!
You can do this using whole wheat grain kernels, which are also often referred to as wheat berries.
You can use a home grain milling machine, or you can use other home kitchen methods to grind your wheat grain kernels into flour.
Using freshly milled flour, whether you bought it fresh, or did so yourself, is something that you do need to get used to, especially if you are an experienced baker but have never used fresh flour before.
It does not really behave in the same way as traditional store-bought flour.
So, before you start making your own flour, know what to expect from it, be aware of the ins and outs of it, or maybe just test it out using a coffee grinder first!
Yes, you can do that, we will go over how in just a moment.
How Do I Mill My Own Flour At Home?
You have a few different options for you to start milling your own flour at home.
First you could use a burr coffee grinder to do this, these are usually an ideal option if you are not sure if you want to do this in the long term.
You could also use a food processor, however, you should not do this unless you have an extremely durable food processor.
However, if you are sure that this is something you would like to do in the long term, you can use a home grain milling machine, although be aware, these are quite a hefty investment to make.
Try Out A Coffee Grinder
If you wish to try making your own fresh milled flour, but you are not sure if this is something you want to do long-term, and you are not sure if you want to invest in a flour mill, try out a burr coffee grinder.
This is an awesome option if you already have one, it makes it super ideal to give it a try.
It is super easy and simple to do this.
#1. Get your wheat grain kernels and fill up your coffee grinder to the halfway point.
#2. Set your coffee grinder to grind for around 30 seconds.
#3. Always double-check the flour, if it is not fine enough, grind for 30 seconds more, and so on until you are satisfied with the consistency.
You will not get super fine flour, this way, however, and it won’t always be even.
Wheat grains have been milled for hundreds of years, but technology has come far, you can give it a try yourself if you want to, it leads to delicious results!