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  1. #1
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    Default Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?

    Hopefully this won't seem too weird for you. We recently got a small grain mill for home use, so we could have fresh ground grain with all its benefits, etc. Since we aren't farmers we need to buy some grain to use it. None of the local grocery stores seem to carry unground grain (big surprise). I know we can find stuff online, but it's usually fancy organic grain berries at $1/pound or more (plus shipping), when ground flour at the grocery store is around 33 cents/pound. It seems silly to pay two or three times more for unground grain as we would pay for the flour made from it!

    We are in lower Michigan, a farming area where wheat (I believe it's mostly soft white winter wheat) is very common. There is a farmer's co-op just a few miles from us that is the major grain mill for local farmers to sell and/or store their harvests. They sell at retail and we regularly buy other stuff there, like horse feed. My wife asked them about buying some grain for our use; they have no problem selling small quantities and the price is right (around 16 cents/pound I think) but the person there thought it was weird that we would want to buy straight grain for our own eating, and seemed to imply it wasn't suitable for that. I am confused since I would think the grain they take in is going to market anyway and a large part of it will end up in human food, including the flour we buy at the grocery store!

    So, who can tell me if the grain sold by the local co-op is likely or definitely safe for our consumption, after being ground by us? Or is it somehow treated with chemicals, or poorly stored, or whatever, so that it isn't safe for us to eat? I realize the grain they would have is straight from the field (via combine and grain bin), but are there any issues with that? How much cleaning would be needed and how easy or difficult is that cleaning?

    As always, thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?

    Quote Originally Posted by Z-Michigan View Post
    So, who can tell me if the grain sold by the local co-op is likely or definitely safe for our consumption, after being ground by us? Or is it somehow treated with chemicals, or poorly stored, or whatever, so that it isn't safe for us to eat? I realize the grain they would have is straight from the field (via combine and grain bin), but are there any issues with that? How much cleaning would be needed and how easy or difficult is that cleaning?
    Cleaning:Often there is quite a bit of chaff and stuff in the wheat that you would get from a bin, so ask if they do/can double clean it, your mill may handle chaff, but some plug right up when you try to grind wheat with chaff in it (thus double cleaned wheat is good).

    Moisture content: the moisture content needs to be at or below 14%, otherwise it will mold (longer explication here)

    Types of wheat: there are two main kinds of wheat that my family has stored in the past, first is hard red winter wheat, it stores well for a long time but when used by itself it makes VERY heavy bread, Soft white/spring wheat isnt as hard (has less vitamins/minerals? its been a while) and doesn't store as long, IIRC it breaks down faster than hard wheat. However, when the flour is mixed 50/50 with hard wheat the resulting food is much lighter, while retaining the taste and "goodness" of the red wheat

    In short: Get double cleaned wheat with the moisture content around or under 14% (hard wheat for storage, soft wheat if you want your food to be lighter, I would go 50/50) and you will be good for all your cooking needs.

    HTH

    Aaron Z
    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?

    http://www.hgca.com/publications/doc...ling_wheat.pdf

    Just a little more information on mixing grains for different flour requirements.

    Cleanliness of the grain may be important. IE, fecal matter from rodents has to be checked for.

    Your bread may be be quite chewy!
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?

    Thanks, Aaron and Egon. Is the cleaning process normally done with screens, or how? Also, will any grain elevator have cleaning equipment, or is it more specialized?

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    Default Re: Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?

    You can clean it yourself, Set a 20 inch box fan on a table turn it on and pour the grain past it slowly. The chaff will blow away, And do it outside.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?

    When I was growing up we would go out to the grain bin and get a few lbs of wheat and grind it up for flour. Like mentioned there will be some chaff on it you will need to get rid of. We would pour it from one pan into another slowly either on a windy day or use a shop vac on blow. You could also use an air compressor turned way down. You can play with various methods and find what works good for you. The chaff will blow out and the wheat will stay. You also might have to pick out larger things by hand, but it really doesn't take too long.

    If you have a hand crank grinder, you might want to grind the flour in two passes. The first to bust up the wheat and the second to make the actual flour. You can do it in one step but it makes it a lot harder turn the crank. It might also apply to a motorized version as well depending on how strong of a motor it has.

    As mentioned, the flour you have will be a lot heavier than normal flour, but you can get whole wheat bread like you see in the store. The only difference is a lot of times the bread in the store is not 100% whole wheat, they mix in refined for some lift and keeping it lighter. Even if you don't use 100% of the flour for some bread, you can add a cup to the mix you use for some nice flavor and texture and the ratio of white flour to wheat will keep things nice and fluffy.

    I do a lot of bread baking and I would say about 90% of our bread comes from what I bake myself and its all 100% whole wheat flour (though I have been known to throw in other grains like flax, soy, corn and so on to mix it up a little.) If you want good results, pick up pretty much THE defacto book on the subject (I did and it has helped me.)
    Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor.

    Amazon.com: Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor: Ron Manville: Books

    The pic is one of my earlier results, 100% whole wheat, no other grains.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?-dscf1471-jpg  
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?

    Thanks again! One last question that has been answered by implication but not directly - the stuff at the grain elevator would not have any chemicals like pesticides added to it or contaminating it, right (after it's brought to the elevator)? It is reasonable to assume that a large fraction of the grain there eventually winds up in people food, right?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?

    Quote Originally Posted by Z-Michigan View Post
    Thanks again! One last question that has been answered by implication but not directly - the stuff at the grain elevator would not have any chemicals like pesticides added to it or contaminating it, right (after it's brought to the elevator)? It is reasonable to assume that a large fraction of the grain there eventually winds up in people food, right?
    Yes, that is a reasonable assumption, if they are selling it for animals (as I think you said a while back) it shouldn't have any chemicals harmful to humans in it.

    Aaron Z
    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
    Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is grain-elevator grain OK for human consumption?

    In the bakery business (which uses a lot of flour), the wheat is taken from the co-op (or wherever) to the milling plant where it gets destoned/dechaffed (through a destoner and sifter) and then gets ground. After it gets to our plant, we channel it through an infestroyer (basically a hammermill that grinds any insect contamination that may have gotten into the flour) and then passes through another set of sifters prior to going to processing.

    I would think that once you mill/grind it, if you sift it once or twice you should be good to go.

    Take care and good luck.

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