In the Kitchen
What is a whole grain pantry? I have spent the last several years transitioning my kitchen into a whole grain pantry and the funny thing is that there isn’t even any flour in my pantry!! My “pantry” is empty. Instead I have a grain “cellar” much like a wine cellar where I store my 20 lbs each of anywhere from 5 -10 varietals of wheat at a time in 6L cambro containers- or buckets for my grain- safe from any critters, heat or moisture. It’s not really a cellar at all – just part of my unfinished basement utility room, squeezed in and stacked between the water filter, heater, canned tomatoes and hanging garlic strands. Another place you will find my grain is in the freezer. It’s where the grain waits until I am ready to mill, staying extra cool and fresh to withstand the natural rise in temperature from the action of the stones during milling and to preserve all the flavor and nutrition packed into this “living” food.
The flour that you find on your market shelf or in your kitchen pantry is very far from alive. The bran and the germ in whole grain flour that contain all the essential vitamins, nutrients and oils do not have a stable shelf life. It is for this very reason that with the industrialization and modernization of wheat post WWII, available in large quantities to be distributed nationwide, ended up on our shelves as refined white flour- all those qualities of the bran and germ that contribute to superior flavor and nutrition were taken out so that the flour would last longer and travel further.
All this does not spell gloom and doom, nor does it require you to go out and purchase a tabletop mill quite yet! It does however ask you to look at flour and in this case wheat flour differently- as something fresh and alive that should be treated as such. Freshly milled flour from your local farmers’ market, bakery, or online resource simply needs to be treated as such- fresh, like your heirloom tomatoes, and stored either in the freezer or refrigerator depending on how quickly you will use it.
So the first step is a change in attitude and awareness and a willingness to explore the amazing flavor and nutrition you will find in whole wheat. Right about now there may be a little nagging voice saying to you, well what about gluten and inflammation? I thought wheat wasn’t good for you or I don’t feel good when I eat wheat. Those are all very valid concerns. They are likely connected to the kind of wheat you eat- modern vs heritage/ancient varieties, organic vs conventional, how it was milled-refined vs whole wheat, how it was processed- quick instant yeasts vs long slow natural fermentation. All of these contribute to how our bodies process wheat. Definitely more details on that later!
The next step is getting your hands on some wheat! Lucky for you I have done a lot of that work for you already. Just check out the list of Grain Sources.
The last step, which I think is the most fun because you get to eat it, is playing around with these different wheat varietals in your kitchen. You will find that you can make substitutions for everything you already love and know how to make by following a few of my guidelines. Everything from your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe to waffles to pasta to bread! At first you will likely stick closely to my varietal recommendations but my guess is that you too will become a willing participant in experimenting with the different varietals and their flavors and textures- before long you will be making combinations and recommendations of your own! I think you will be amazed at the choices available to you and the endless possibilities. Oh and it’s good for you too;)