STONE MILL
Farmers That Grind
Tim has a long history of success with conventional row crops, growing the typical rotations of wheat, soybeans, and field corn. With the evolution of Breakneck Acres, Tim was excited to grow these crops organically, experimenting with different non-GMO seed and proving he could match the yields he produced conventionally. Ami was intrigued by the beautiful fields of healthy corn, flowing wheat, and deep green soybeans, but knew something was missing as they delivered their bounty to the local grain elevators. Where was their grain going? Was it treated with the same love and care it received at Breakneck Acres? While working in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ami stumbled upon the Pie Ranch in Pescadora, CA. Pie Ranch’s Mission is, “to inspire and connect people to know the source of their food, and to work together to bring greater health to the food system from seed to table.” She visited the farm and was immediately inspired by their mission and hand crafted stone mill used to produce whole meal flour. She bought a strawberry Mission Pie made with the final product and called Tim. They immediately agreed that if they were going make Breakneck Acres a success, they would need to offer value added products, including; whole wheat flour, corn flour, cornmeal, grits, and buckwheat flour.
Why Mill with Stones?
The short answer: Ami is a mining engineer by education and spent over ten years managing stone quarries. Was there really another option? The reality: Industrial flour mills rip the wheat berries apart on sharp metallic edges of steel roller mills. The steel acts as a catalyst for the rapid oxidation process that causes wheat germ to become rancid. Consequently, industrial flour mills remove the germ and bran and must “enrich” the flour with artificial components to make up for the nutritional losses—this is the “enriched flour” you see sold in large grocery stores. But wait! The germ and bran are the best parts—containing all the natural enzymes, vitamins, and other beneficial qualities! With stone milling, wheat berries are peeled with the slow stone rotation and the wheat germ and bran is blended into the flour, bringing with it the natural enzymes and vitamins. Since the flour never comes in contact with metal, oxidation is limited. The millstone also revolves very slowly and the flour never gets hot—contributing to the superior quality of Breakneck Acres’ flour.
About Small Grains
Tim and Ami have spent countless hours learning what it takes to grow grains in northeast Ohio that perform well in the kitchen. In the beginning, they were naïve enough to think that the #2 hard red winter wheat typically grown in the area would be suitable for baking a lovely loaf of bread. Ami’s dad showed support for her career change by purchasing her a Kitchen Aid with the milling attachment—best to start slow. They milled some wheat, baked a brick of bread, and realized that they had a great deal to learn about small grains if they were going to offer value added products at Breakneck Acres. After hearing experts speak at OEFFA, reading a few books (including Small Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon), and scheduling a meeting with the manager of Star of the West Milling Co. in Kent, Ohio, they learned that that the wheat they were growing was best suited for Goldfish Crackers and they would need to start working with very different varieties of small grains (that might have very different yields) if they were going to offer a superior value added product. Below is a crash course in what Ami learned about wheat, corn and buckwheat.

BUCKWHEAT

Gene Logsdon says buckwheat, “was the all American breakfast: the schoolboy’s fortification against a snowy, two mile walk to school, and the ax-man’s fuel as he chopped his way across the frontier.” I respect Gene and decided it was time to mill some buckwheat flour and try a traditional buckwheat pancake before I headed out to do farm chores.

 

A few facts to get you jazzed about trying buckwheat flour; buckwheat is not a grass like wheat, it’s a fruit. The kernel inside buckwheat is called the groat and it can be steamed, toasted, or served as a cereal. You do not need to hull the groat when grinding for flour. Consequently, the dark flour has some particles of finely milled hulls (excess hulls makes the flour bitter). Buckwheat has an amazing amino acid profile and it is very high in lysine—a protein our bodies (and our chickens) need.

 

We use buckwheat primarily as a cover crop at Breakneck Acres since it’s quick to grow and is an excellent weed suppressant. After milling a small batch and doing a taste test of buckwheat pancakes, we knew that buckwheat flour would need to be added to our product list! Since the yield is low and we save seed every season, supplies may be low. Be sure to grab a bag when it’s available! Like our other products, buckwheat flour does not contain additives or preservatives. The flour should be kept in the freezer or refrigerator and should be used within two months of purchase.

CORN

After reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, I knew I would have a love vs. hate relationship with the most subsidized grain grown in the United States.  As the debate over high fructose corn syrup intensified, I found myself wondering why we were growing field corn on our small organic farm in northeast Ohio.  King Corn claimed, “You are what you eat…..” and we knew it was time to dump out the soda and grow a variety of corn that was sweet, healthful, and an excellent source of vitamin E, linoleic acid, phospholipids, carotene, and phytosterols.

 

There are many varieties of corn grown, including, flint, dent, popcorn, and ornamental in colors that vary from white, yellow, red and blue.  Flint and dent corn are typically grown for milling.  At Breakneck Acres, we work with certified organic and non-GMO varieties of dent corn.

 

We currently offer three sifted products; corn flour, cornmeal, and corn grit (also known as polenta to the high class and mush to the common folk!).  Like our wheat flour, our corn products should be stored in the freezer or refrigerator after opening and we recommend using within three months of purchase.

WHEAT

As row crop farmers, we simply saw wheat by color, hardness, and season. You’ve got hard red winter, hard red spring, and soft red winter wheat. We focused on growing hard red winter wheat since it was the highest yielding variety in our area. With vertical integration and direct communication with the end user, we quickly made quality of wheat a priority. Conversations with bakers taught us about gluten content, falling numbers, strong vs. weak wheat, and the true definition of all purpose flour. Here’s a crash course on the basics;

Spring vs. Winter

Weather and the health of the soil impact the protein content of wheat. Spring wheat is planted in the spring, grows quickly, and is harvested in late summer. Winter wheat is planted and germinates in the fall, goes dormant in the winter, starts growing again in the spring and is harvested in the summer. The quick development of spring wheat leads to higher protein levels. Winter wheat will typically have higher yields with slightly lower protein content. In Ohio, farmers have better luck with hard winter wheat since weather in the spring can be unpredictable and the window to plant hard spring wheat is very short (and just might be missed!)

 

Hard vs. Soft

This is probably the most important characteristic to understand if you’re milling and baking. Hard wheat is commonly known as bread flour since it is typically high in protein (11-17%) and will make more gluten. Hard wheat is primarily used in bread baking and the hardest wheat, durum, is used to make pasta and puffed breakfast cereals. Soft wheat is generally low in protein (6-10%) and is known as pastry flour. Bakers consider this “weak flour” because of the gluten deficiency. Weak flours milled from soft wheat are better suited for cookies, pastries, and cakes.

 

All Purpose Flour

All purpose flour is typically sifted and blended.   Industrial flour mills remove the germ and bran, “enrich” the flour with artificial components to make up for the nutritional losses, and blend hard and soft wheat to have an overall protein content of 10%.  Breakneck Acres does not offer an all-purpose flour since we do not grow soft varieties of wheat at this time.

 

Bread Four

Bread flour is milled from hard wheat that is high in protein.  It will contain enough gluten to produce nice loaves and specialty products like pizza dough.  Breakneck Acres’ Wholemeal Wheat Flour and Fine Sifted Whole Wheat Flour is excellent for baking artesian bread and can make a mean pizza dough!

 

Pastry Flour

Pastry flour is primarily milled from soft winter wheat. The flour is starchy and has a protein content of 8-10%. Breakneck Acres does not grow a soft winter wheat and does not offer pastry flour at this time.

 

Semolina

Semolina is coarse flour milled from hard, high protein wheat.   Like all purpose flour, the germ and bran is removed.   Semolina is primarily used in pasta products.  The yellow color in pasta comes from durum wheat.  Breakneck Acres does not grow durum wheat, but customers have had success with our Fine Sifted Whole Wheat Flour when making homemade pasta!

 

100% Whole Wheat Flour

Labels don’t always tell the whole(meal) story.  Organic 100% whole wheat flour at the grocery store may seem like your best option since there are no additives or preservatives, but it probably doesn’t contain the whole grain.  It is milled from hard wheat and has typically been sifted like all-purpose flour with some of the germ and bran removed.

 

Breakneck Acres’ Wholemeal Wheat Flour & Fine Sifted Whole Wheat Flour

And finally—the real deal!  Breakneck Acres’ Wholemeal Wheat Flour contains the bran, germ, and all of the starchy endosperm from the grain. Nothing has been added and nothing has been removed! We allow you to enjoy the full flavor while consuming protein, fiber, and the highest quality vitamins and minerals. If you are looking for something lighter, we also offer a Fine Sifted Whole Wheat Flour that has some of the coarser germ and bran removed.  Some customers find this easier to bake with since it is not as heavy as the wholemeal.  Because we do not add preservatives, we recommend that you refrigerate or freeze the flour after opening and use within three months of purchase. Our product is excellent for bread, pizza dough, muffins, and even “healthy” cookies!

Breakneck Acres purchased an Osttiroler Getreidemühlen (East Tyrolean Stone Mill) in 2011 to provide fresh, affordable, staples foods to the community. The world class stone mill was hand crafted from pine by the Green Family in Austria and the millstones come from the Naxos Island in Greece.

 

Tim and Ami have proven that success comes with compromise and flexibility, so it was natural that they settled on a combi-mill. The combi-mill has a stone mill and an integrated sieving system that has the capability to mill wheat berries and sift fine flour, fine semolina, coarse semolina and bran in just one operation. When milling shell corn, the sieves can produce corn flour, cornmeal, and corn grit (or polenta for the high class and mush for the common folk!). Multiple sieves and the variable adjustment of the stones offer unlimited choices of fineness and blends of the final product.

East Tyrolean Stone Mill
MILLING THIS WEEK

© 2013

Breakneck Acres

2743 Summit Road, Ravenna, Ohio