Wheat FAQs

The Real Food Living FAQ and reprints are provided as information only. The comments contained in the FAQ are the opinions of our readers. Before making any radical changes in your diet, please talk with your personal health care provider.

1. Where can I buy wheat to grind?

A. You can buy your wheat in local health food stores, by mail order catalogue or join or start a co-op. First look in your phone book for health food stores, or food co-ops. Call and get prices on hard red, hard white, or soft white wheat berries. Keep a file of where you called and how much per pound they charged. Do the same for each place you call. Then get some catalogues. Next, see if there is a local food co-op. Ask your homeschooling group, they might know. If not, see if there are any friends you can get to go in with you and start a new one. Co-ops are by far the cheapest method for obtaining grains. If you have no local sources, and you have to buy bulk items like wheat by mail, the problem is the shipping costs getting it to you. They may have a decent price per pound but when you add shipping, it is too expensive.

You can even start your own co-op! Please see the Co-ops FAQ for more information.

2. I have no way to store my wheat. NOW what? Are we doomed to living with a stack of buckets in every room??

A. I thought you’d like to hear what I did with my buckets of wheat. You’ll be so proud! I brought them right into the living room, put a circle shaped piece of plywood on them, made a skirt and viola! Two beautiful end tables for my couch. And with the other two I painted the buckets and then sponged them (I sponge paint everything!) to match my dining room and they are sitting in the corner with trailing ivy sitting on them. Since these two buckets are different sizes, it looks really cute. I may do some decoupage on another. Now I’m hoping to store more grains so I can have them all over! (I need some bedside tables!)

There are other ways to store your buckets and that depends on what you have in your home. One home we lived in had a great basement and we put our buckets on pallets and stored them there. We don’t have a basement here, so we have quite a few buckets in the house. You can try placing some in closets or other nooks and crannies in the rooms.

3. Is there really THAT much difference between the regular ol’ flour in the grocery store and the flour I grind at home?

A. Below is a chart taken from Sue Gregg’s “Breakfasts” cookbook which details the nutrient loss in white flour. You can visit Sue Gregg’s website to see more of her books or to order her books.

“What has happened in milling wheat flour to make white flour, by removing the bran and germ, is a good example of how we have been robbed of important nutrients that God created for our benefit.” — Sue Gregg

Whole Wheat
Flour Nutrients
Nutrient Loss
in White Flour
thiamine (B-1) * 77%
riboflavin (B-2) * 67%
niacin (B-3) * 81%
pyridoxine (B-6) 72%
choline 30%
folic acid 67%
pantothenic acid 50%
vitamin E 86%
chromium 40%
manganese 86%
selenium 16%
zinc 98%
iron * 75%
cobalt 89%
calcium 60%
sodium 78%
potassium 77%
magnesium 85%
phosphorus 91%
molybdenum 48%
copper 68%
fiber 89%

* Vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3 and iron are added to white flour in synthetic form by a process called enrichment. The chart reflects losses without enrichment.

4. Everyone is raving about “Montana” wheat, but my health food store doesn’t carry it. Should I order my own from Montana, or will another kind do?

A. I didn’t use Montana wheat when I first started and I made good bread! However, Wheat Montana has very high protein wheat and we like the texture of it better than anything we have tried. The white whole wheat is called Prairie Gold and the red is called Bronze Chief, and more and more health food stores and co-ops are carrying it. You can ask your store to stock it, or even order it for you. You also can order direct from Wheat Montana. The reason people are raving about it us because it is an excellent wheat. However, if you don’t have access to it, don’t fret, good, high-quality, high-protein, low moisture, triple-cleaned wheat will do! Also, try to locate organic if possible or chemical-free.

5. What is “Golden 86”?

A. This is a white, hard wheat that makes excellent breads. I have used Golden 86, which I got through our co-op, but it was more expensive than other wheat berries which make perfectly good wheat bread. It’s just a lighter color & texture, which some families prefer if just converting to 100% whole wheat bread. The berries are just as high-protein, in fact sometimes higher, than red wheat and because the taste and texture are milder, more people prefer the white wheat, either Golden 86 or the Prairie Gold from Wheat Montana.

6. What is the difference between “hard wheat” and “soft wheat”?

A. WW pastry flour is also called “soft wheat” as opposed to bread wheat which is “hard wheat”, either red or white. “White” wheat makes lighter bread, but “red” wheat works just as well. Pastry flour has less gluten and is better suited for quickbreads, muffins, pancakes, cakes, cookies, etc. It does not have sufficient gluten for loaf bread. Hard wheat has more gluten and is better suited for bread, rolls etc. It has too much gluten for pancakes, etc., and sometimes you can end up with rubbery muffins and pancakes if using hard wheat.

7. OH YUCK! I have BUGS in my wheat!!!! WHAT DO I DO????

A. (from one of our WFD readers) This happened to me one morning as I was going to sit down and work, but kept feeling prompted to make bread instead. I began to make bread, and, horrors, found bugs in the wheat. I expected this to happen this summer, since the temperature in our house is not constantly cool. Fortunately, I caught the problem before it was what I would consider out of hand. I have experience in bugs and wheat because I used to innocently but foolishly store my wheat in my laundry room – the same place I used to let my bread rise because it was so warm and humid. (oops!)
Naturally, the bugs hatched out pronto in there! I was finally clued in and started storing my wheat in the coolest, driest place possible.

The eggs of the little critters are in all wheat and under the proper circumstances (time, humidity and warmth) they will hatch. They bore into the wheat kernel from end to end, eating the center of the kernel. The remaining outer part will begin to break, crumble and form a fine powder. You cannot glance into a full bucket of wheat and tell if there are bugs in it unless the problem is severe. If you can see bugs crawling around when you open the lid, throw out the whole lot. It is too far gone to salvage.

Catching the problem before you must throw out your wheat is not hard. When you scoop up some wheat to grind, stir the grain around and scoop it off the bottom as much as possible. You don’t have to spend extra time, doing this, just dig your measuring cup in deep. Every month or so you can pour the wheat into a big, clean, empty bucket so you can see the bottom of the bucket you keep it in. You’ll know instantly if there is a problem, because the bugs will be at the bottom of the container. If you see them, you’ll have to take immediate action to clean the wheat.

Start by scooping the wheat into large ziplock bags and putting them into the freezer, upright. Leave the bottom three or four inches of wheat in the buggy bucket. It will have to be thrown away and the container thoroughly washed with warm soapy water. Do not use bleach or other harsh cleaners because you will want to reuse the bucket to store your debugged wheat. Let the wheat freeze for 24 to 48 hours, then remove the bags from the freezer, keeping the bags upright. Look carefully through the plastic at the bottom of the bags for any dead critters. If you find them, do not empty the bottom two inches or so of wheat back into your clean container. The wheat you pour back in should be bug-free and usable. While you are freezing the grain, remove everything from the area in which it was stored and clean it thoroughly. This is the time to use your bleach or other cleaners.

This morning I did the first bucket I found with a problem, then started going systematically through all my grains in that storage area. There was only one other bucket that needed debugging, and the problem was minor. What a blessing to catch this so soon! If I hadn’t caught it early it could have spread to all of the buckets. I’m so glad I listened to the Lord and made bread that morning, even if it is rather embarrassing to share the results so openly.

There are three more pieces of advice that I have for you before I close. One is: Check the outer lid of your buckets right away for bugs. If there are dead bugs on the lid, isolate that bucket, open it, and check the contents immediately. I’ve seen sealed buckets of wheat with dead bugs on top that are crawling with bugs inside. The second is one that I’ve heard through the grapevine but never tried: Freeze your grain immediately upon buying it and the eggs will never hatch. Finally, I’ve been putting 3-4 *large* bay leaves in my buckets with the grains. The grains do not absorb any of the flavor from the bay leaves, yet the leaves are strong enough to deter any little bugs. Each time I refill a bucket I just add new leaves (& throw out the old ones).

8. Please, oh please, share the best recipes from WFD for using whole wheat flours!!!

A. Here are some of the best (there are lots more!)

DIANN’S YUMMY WHOLE WHEAT ROLLS FOR ABM
Diann Smith

(or by hand)

  • 1 1/2 C. warm water
  • 3 C. ww flour
  • 3/8 C. wheat gluten (almost 1/2 C., about 3 *heaping* Tbsp.)
  • 3 Tbsp. molasses or honey
  • 2 heaping tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, softened

Dump all ingredients in automatic bread machine and set to KNEAD only. When cycle is finished, dump out dough on countertop, cut into 12 pieces, roll each piece into a ball and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled, then bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Good as sandwich rolls, too! 🙂

WW PASTRY PANCAKE MIX

  • 7 3/4 cups packed freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour
  • 7 teaspoons baking powder (non-aluminum)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 TB cinnamon (opt)

In a large bowl, mix together well. Place in a ziploc bag and label. Keep in fridge.

To use:

WW Pancakes (makes ten to twelve 4-inch pancakes)

In a bowl mix well:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk (I use soy)
  • 2 TB pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Add 1 1/2 cup WW pancake mix, and mix until combined. On an heated ungreased griddle, drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls until surface is full of bubbles and looks dry. Flip over and cook on other side.

FAT FREE OAT AND WHEAT BREAD
(makes 2 loaves)

  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons SAF yeast
  • 1/4 cup vital gluten flour
  • 6-7 cups whole wheat flour (I used Prairie Gold)

Mix together boiling water, oats, applesauce and honey and stir well. Let cool until lukewarm (100-110 degrees)and stir in yeast. Add 2 cups whole wheat flour and mix well. Cover and sponge (let sit at room temp) for 15 minutes.

Mix in vital gluten and add remaining flour a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Add enough flour to begin to pull away from the sides and dough is moist but not sticky.

Knead for about 10 minutes with the manual kneader, or until gluten is developed.

Cover and let rise until nearly doubled. Punch down and divide into 2 loaves. Shape and place into 8 x 4 loaf pans. Place in a warm oven (turn on to 150 until warmed then turn OFF) and let rise until nicely rounded on top.

Turn oven on and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until tops are brown and the loaves sound hollow when you tap the bottoms.

Place on a baking rack to cool, brush with water and place a clean towel over top to soften crust.

KATHLEEN’S 100% WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
Kathleen Johnson

  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2-2/3 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 tbsp (or less) salt
  • 7-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Mix yeast with 1/3 cup water and honey till foams. In a large bowl mix hot water and four cups of flour. Stir till well mixed. Add oil, molasses and salt. Work in remaining flour, turning from bowl and kneading when too stiff to stir. Knead well. Dough will be sticky. Do not add more flour. Let rise in warm place till double, punch down and shape into two loaves. Let rise again and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, till hollow sounding When thumped on bottom. Slice and devour one loaf immediately and save the rest for toast and sandwiches.

GRANOLA BREAD
Vickilynn Haycraft

makes 2 loaves

  • 6 ounces granola, any type, homemade preferred
  • 3/4 cup warm water

Mix in a bowl and set aside. Let sit about 45 min – 1 hour to soften

Sponge:

  • 1 1/2 TB yeast
  • 11/2 cups warm water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl. (I use a Bosch) Mix well and cover. Let sponge (sit undisturbed) about 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Add to sponge:

  • 3 TB cold-pressed oil
  • 2 TB cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt

Add 3 1/2 – 4 cups whole wheat flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each cup; Mix the until it clings to itself and is no longer sticky.

Knead until smooth and springy. Then add the softened granola, kneading it in.

Let dough rise in a covered bowl until doubled. Punch down to release air and let rise again.
Punch down again and divide dough into 2 pieces. Shape each piece into a loaf. Place loaves in lightly oiled 8 x 4 inch bread pans and put in a warmed place to rise a third time.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until browned and cooked through. This makes excellent toast.

© 1995-2013 Vickilynn Haycraft and Real Food Living. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this content may be copied, stored or transmitted in any medium, for any reason without prior written permission of the author.

About Vickilynn Haycraft

A student of health and nutrition for 30 years, Vickilynn Haycraft has over 25 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer, cookbook author and now radio talk show host, as well as being full-time wife and mom to 5 children. Read Vickilynn's Product Reviews and Family Preparedness Articles at Examiner.com. She blogs at the Real Food Living Blog.