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.
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 are currently working with two certified organic varieties of dent corn—an open pollinated and hybrid.
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.
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 only grow hard wheat that averages 12% protein.
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’ whole wheat flour is excellent for baking artesian bread and can make a mean pizza dough!
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 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 we do grow hard, high protein wheat. We currently do not sell semolina flour, but we are interested in sifting and testing our flour to be used for pasta produced locally.
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 the germ and bran removed. And where does the germ and bran go? My guess is that the pigs are eating better than we are…
Breakneck Acres 100% Organic Whole Wheat Flour
And finally—the real deal! Our product is the wholemeal, milled from hard red wheat. It contains all of the bran, the entire 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. Because we do not add preservatives, we recommend that you refrigerate or freeze the flour after opening and use within 3 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.
Breakneck Acres Organic Farm
2743 Summit Road, Ravenna, Ohio