Local Wheat Flour and Black Beans

Mama Made Them | August 13 2014

As reported by Cheryl, in her Mama Made Them blog  August 13 2014:   “Two of the exceptions to my local food summer were grains and dried beans, there just weren’t any local options that I knew of, so I resigned myself to a local produce summer.Then I read The Third Plate by Dan Barker. The Third Plate is a lovely, rambling tale about good food, Stone Barns Restaurant (a farm-to-table restaurant in New York City), and the story of wheat. If you have read and enjoyed Michael Pollan’s books, this will be right up your alley.

Barker makes the point that we need to go beyond fresh produce, grass-fed steaks, and line-caught fish to make for sustainable eating. That we (and chefs) need to eat and use all of the farm’s production rather than cherry pick the cream of the crop.

But he also goes in to a story about wheat in the United States: how it’s grown, how it’s processed, how it is bred (not for flavor!), and after reading the book, I thought I’d do another internet search for some local flour.

And lo and behold, after some digging, I found some. The farm was less than 45 minutes away from me in Pennsylvania. They had just gotten their stone mill in operation (thanks to regulatory hurdles), so this was their first year selling flour.

And guess what else they grow?? BLACK BEANS!!! The two staples of my diet on one farm. I was thrilled! Oh yeah, they were an organic farm too. And they had corn meal too. And spelt flour. And buckwheat flour. And pretty soon, when they get their machine working again, they’ll have rolled oats.

The farm is Weatherbury Farm. They started out as beef cattle farm, transitioned to grass-finished beef and lamb seven years ago, and five years ago started growing grains for the straw to bed their cattle. Now they are selling flour directly to the public.

So I bought 50 pounds of whole wheat bread flour, 50 pounds of whole wheat pastry flour, 5 pounds of cornmeal, and 10 pounds of black beans. I may have gotten a little carried away on the flour purchasing, but it was cheaper to buy in 50 pound bags.

They also sell white flour, which is a bit more nutritious than the stuff you buy at the store. Only the bran is removed by sifting, so the germ is still in the flour donating it’s nutrition and color (a little yellower than “white” flour). It’s also more expensive than the whole wheat, which makes a refreshing amount of sense. It always irritates me than processed foods are less expensive than their minimally processed counterparts.

But enough about the farm, what about the flour?

Well, I have baked 3 sets of bread from the whole wheat bread flour. All three times, I cut the flour with some white flour and white whole wheat flour that I had on hand. Generally my ratio is 2/3 whole wheat to 1/3 white and white whole wheat.