Since I’ve been spending a lot of time making bread, I’ve been pondering a few questions about flour:
- Should I grind it fresh from berries or just buy packages of flour from the store?
- If I grind it, what equipment do I need? Is it expensive? Are manual models available?
- Which is easier to store long-term berries or flour? Do berries take up less room than flour? Which has a longer shelf life?
With these questions in mind I also have consider product cost. Sure, I can just go to the grocery store and buy flour to stock my shelves at home. But can those it be stored long-term (over 2 years)? And is it the most inexpensive way to do it?
So here is my research on hard white wheat berries versus commercially milled (ground) flour. First some basic information to help with calculations. How much flour does a cup of hand milled wheat berries yield? It seems the consensus on the internet is that 1 cup of wheat berries is equal to 1-1/2 cups milled flour. Oh, and I learned that the word “white” in the term hard white wheat only refers to the color of the kernel. If you go here, you can see a picture of hard red wheat and hard white wheat kernels. I pulled the following statement including links from the website which provides more details:
“Additional Notes: You’ll find hard red and hard white and soft red and soft white wheat berries out there (and wheat flours as well), but don’t let the label lead you into thinking these whole grains are refined. The “white” they’re referring to here is a class of wheat due to the color of the kernel, not a refining process. Confusing, I know, but “white wheat” berries or flour are whole grain products with all three parts of the kernel intact while “white flour” is processed flour with all but the endosperm stripped away.”
So now that I know the yield ratio (1:1.5) I can do some calculations. According to the nutrition information for a 26# pail of Augason Farms hard white wheat, a 1/4 cup is one serving, the pail contains 256 servings, and costs $32.79.
256 servings divided by 4 equals 64 cups
64 cups wheat berries times 1.5 equals 96 cups
26# pail of berries yields 96 cups of milled flour
$32.79 divided by 96 equals .341
1 cup of milled hard white wheat berries would cost 34 cents.
Now let me figure out the price per cup of commercially ground whole wheat flour. Lately I’ve been using Costco as my baseline for pricing items. But I don’t remember seeing whole wheat flour at our local Costco. So I’ll have to use the King Arthur brand that I can buy at my local Smith’s. Pricing and quantities can be found on King Arthur’s website. The price is $4.95 for a 5-lb bag which yields 19 to 20 cups. I’ll use 20 cups for my calculations.
$4.95 divided by 20 cups equals .2475 cents
1 cup of ground flour would be about 25 cents.
Okay, so hand milling hard white wheat berries into flour is about 9 cents more per cup than commercially ground flour. But wait… that’s not the only thing I want to consider.
What about long-term storage? The Augason Farms product will last for 30 years in the unopened pail. The King Arthur product will only last a year or two, and I’d still need to store it in a Gamma Vault. I think I could use the King Arthur flour before it expired and I like that it never has bleach added to it and it is 100% hard red wheat berries (see nutritional information.)
But for me, I think the shelf life of the Augason Farms product outweighs the 9 cent increase. If I decide that I can’t continue to use food storage for everyday use, at least the Augason Farms product will not go to waste for 30 years (or a little less here in the desert because of the hot climate). The King Arthur product definitely would have to be used within a two-year period. And I wouldn’t feel comfortable about storing a six-month or more supply of the King Arthur product on my shelves. I would have no problems storing 2 or more years of the Augason Farms product.
So there you have it, I’ve made my decision. We’ll be purchasing hard white wheat in 26# pails for our food storage. Now I have to do research on grinding mills…. I found this video for a manual mill… looks like I’ll be getting a work out… I love it!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <>< ❤
“”a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates,
a land of olive oil and honey;” – Deuteronomy 8:8 NKJV