Have you ever visited an operating grist mill?
One autumn Saturday on a trip from Seattle to Portland, we took an unplanned, spontaneous yet fascinating side trip to Cedar Creek Grist Mill near Vancouver, Washington. The mill rests on a steep and rocky slope at the bottom of a narrow gorge. It’s spectacularly scenic, a photographers dream. And, it is the only grain grinding mill in Washington that has maintained its original structural integrity. It is water powered.
I had my first taste of freshly ground wheat berries and corn meal that weekend. And was forever changed. It is nothing like what we buy in our markets. Perhaps it was the experience, perhaps it was the method… perhaps it was the memory. But I was hooked.
If you’re ever traveling I-5 between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington — take the extra time to visit the mill. A perfect summer outing. And — you can even bring home some freshly ground flour.
But if you’re not in my neck of the woods, this link will take you to Wikipedia where they list operating grist mills or water mills by state. Put it on your summer or autumn list. An educational and fascinating experience.
Grist mills have a long history. Used in this country since the early 1600s, grist mills ground corn and wheat and were primarily located in coastal areas.
There is something about water wheels and grist mills that resonate with most of us. It’s basic, perhaps, to our nature, our instincts. And it’s incredibly healthy.
Most of us know that processed white flour isn’t healthy. And that “bleached” white flour is even less so.
With nearly 10 million pounds of General Mills flour recently recalled, we’re all probably thinking about processed flour.
The reason white refined flour isn’t healthy is because the refining process has stripped and destroyed the wheat berry’s original nutrients, essentially becoming a refined sugar. Consider what’s lost in the refining process.
Half of the beneficial unsaturated fatty acids
Virtually all of the vitamin E
Fifty percent of the calcium
Seventy percent of the phosphorus
Eighty percent of the iron
Ninety-eight percent of the magnesium
Fifty to 80 percent of the B vitamins
To read more about refined flour, visit this link.
There are solutions to refined white flour, however.
Most markets have whole grain alternatives.
Or… you could grind your own flour and retain the nutritious bran and germ of the wheat berry that’s lost in commercial flour.
One of my favorite resources for whole grains is Bob’s Red Mill. They are the leading name in health foods nationwide. Their catalog is extensive. Visit Bob’s Red Mill to view their online collection.
But what if you want to take it a step further and grind your own flour?
If you’re interested in learning what’s involved in grinding your own flour, following are two videos, with two different recommendations on equipment.
If you’re thinking about processing your own flour, below are recommended resources to view.
|NutriMill Grain Mill||Champion Juicer|
Wonder Junior Deluxe Manual
| Victorio Hand Operated