Hard White Wheat Berries Versus Commercially Milled Wheat Flour

Since I’ve been spending a lot of time making bread, I’ve been pondering a few questions about flour:

  1. Should I grind it fresh from berries or just buy packages of flour from the store?
  2. If I grind it, what equipment do I need? Is it expensive? Are manual models available?
  3. 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

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12 Responses to Hard White Wheat Berries Versus Commercially Milled Wheat Flour

  1. Rose says:

    Great decision! There is NO comparison when it comes to nutrition. Always grind only what you need to use for a recipe. Once milled, flour quickly loses it’s nutritional/health benefits and actually become detrimental to wellness!

  2. jj says:

    You don’t have to buy the wheat from Augason Farms – you could probably buy it just as easily directly from a farmer. Even premium high-protein wheat (the best for bread-making), triple-cleaned (for human consumption) will still cost waaayyyy less than the product you are using. It was a couple of years ago, but the last bushel of premium high protein wheat I bought cost $12 (market price for a bushel of uncleaned regular wheat was around $7 at the time). A bushel is around 60 pounds. It probably costs more now, maybe as much as $20, but it would still probably be a better deal. The only downside is that it comes in a bag, rather than in buckets – you would need 4 six gallon buckets to hold 3 bushels of wheat (each bucket costs 3/4 bushel). Assuming it cost about $10 for the buckets and lids, you could get 180 pounds of wheat, in buckets (four of them), for $100. Not sure what that works out to, per cup, but I know it is cheap…

    Oh, and there are tons of different wheat grinders on the market. We have an electric one, and yes, it was expensive (several hundred dollars). Worth it, though, if you are grinding a lot of wheat to make break and pancakes and such. We’ve put a couple of bushels through that grinder – 10 cups of wheat grinds in under a minute, and the machine still works like new. Not sure how that would fit in with your experiment, though. I think you can get mid-level quality hand grinders for a lot cheaper, but it will take a lot longer to grind your grain.

    • GrammyTammi says:

      Hi JJ, and thanks again for your great comment on wheat and grinders! On Saturday we went to St. George, UT and found a great food storage store. I hope you read my blog post on May 8th, 2011. Anyway, we have decided that you’re right and we’ll be buying our wheat from other sources than Augason Farms. And it’s good to know that it will be less expensive than my calculations using Augason Farms.

      I can’t wait for our trip to Montana in July… we’re going to see if we can pick up some bags of hard white wheat from Wheat Montana.

      And we still haven’t decided what to do about a wheat grinder… I guess more research for me to do. We saw an electric one that they say can also be run by an inverter attached to car engine. I think he said it only takes about five minutes to grind enough wheat for a month when attached to the inverter. So much to learn…..

  3. Kathy says:

    Very interesting! At grocery stores I usually buy UNBLEACHED flour. That is much better for you too. Would this be considered in this group?

    • GrammyTammi says:

      Kathy I’ll only be buying unbleached flour as well if/when I buy flour in the future. It never dawned on me that flour would be “bleached”… yuck! Help me with your question, I’m not sure I understand what you are asking me 🙂

  4. Pingback: White Bread Baked In The Sun Oven | My Food Storage Journey

  5. Ginger says:

    Thank you for sharing such valueable information. You have answered my questions. I sense we share an enthusiasm for food storage. Thank you, also, the time you spent in research and posting.

  6. Geni says:

    Why would anyone pay $32 for 26 lbs. wheat when you can go to the LDS Cannery and buy 25 lbs. of high quality, white hard wheat for about $12?

    • GrammyTammi says:

      Hi Geni, at the time I wrote this post I didn’t have access to an LDS Cannery. And some if my readers don’t have a cannery near them either. You are blessed to be able to purchase wheat at that price and have a cannery close to you. 🙂

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