The Farmhouse Bakery
Krause Family Farm

Grain kernel diagram.

Whole Grain Information

As you can see from the diagram above, even though the germ only forms about 2.5% of the kernel’s weight, it is the most nutrient rich part of the grain containing high levels of vitamins, minerals and fats. The germ is the embryonic heart of a grain.

When a grain germinates, it is from the germ that the rudimentary roots and shoots of the new plant emerge.

Part of what makes the germ so nutritious - its unsaturated omega-3 fats, also makes it unstable, and once a grain has been milled into flour it has a relatively short shelf life largely due to these fats turning rancid. Whilst sifting stone-ground flour removes the bran (the outer layer of the grain) it does not remove the perishable germ. Therefore, flour needs to be milled frequently and locally, which is why historically all towns used to have their own mill.

The advent of ‘roller-milling’ (as opposed to stone-milling) in the middle of the 19th century allowed white flour to be made whiter, cheaper and more stable.

This is because the process allowed the germ as well as the bran layer to be sheared off of the grain, leaving just the endosperm to be milled into a fine flour. Without the troublesome germ the shelf life of flour can be extended indefinitely.

Even when producing whole-wheat flour, when roller-milling is used the germ and bran is always removed at the beginning of the milling process. This is because the oils cause issues by gumming up the milling machinery. Most commercial flour is therefore white flour to which the bran and germ has been added back. However there have been claims that some mills only add part of the bran back and not the troublesome germ. If this is true then there really isn’t anything “whole” about this whole-wheat as the nutritional profile of the flour has been weakened.

Roller-milling also removes the innermost layer of the bran known as the aleurone layer which is nutrient rich and high in antioxidants. In stone-milled flour the aleurone layer becomes integrated with the endosperm and is therefore not separated.

The moment that the seed is opened up (by milling or otherwise) is the moment of its greatest potential. As soon as it is milled it begins to oxidize, losing energy that could be nourishing. It is also the moment of maximum flavor before it begins to fade.

Freshly milled whole-grain has a sweet fragrance and in fact the word ‘flour’ is a specific use of the word ‘flower’ in the sense that flour is the “finest portion of ground grain” in the same way that a flower is the finest part of a plant. It was spelled flower until the 1930s when flour became the accepted form to end confusion.

Bread made purely with whole-grain flours whilst highly nutritious can be tougher due to the coarse fiber in the heavy bran. In addition, the bran in the flour acts as tiny little shards with cut through gluten networks making it difficult to trap air, which results in denser loaves than those made with refined flours.

At The Farmhouse Bakery we bake a variety of loaves, some are 100% whole grain, some are partially whole grain.