Flour can come in many different varieties. The type of flour that is used to bake different items it vital to the finished product's look, taste, texture and nutritionial content. Here at Bill's, we love using Certified Organic stoneground flour due to the unmatched nutritionial content and unique flavour it gives to our sourdough. Find out what makes this traditionally milled flour, which dates back to ancient times, so great!
History of stoneground flour
The stoneground method dates back to Egyptian times, with the Egyptians having ground their grains using a stone mortar. From this method, another was formed with two round stones being placed on top of each other and a handle being used to turn the top stone. The ancient Romans and Greeks played a vital part in the method that is used today. In 1870 a mill was designed that was equipped with multiple sets of rollers that turned at different speeds to break the grain and grind it.
Stone mills became popular in Europe and were powered by water or wind to grind the grain, particularly soft wheat varieties, between the two large stones. The grain was poured into the upper stone, called the runner, and is distributed across the bottom stone, called the sleeper.
Stoneground flour VS rollermilled (industrially ground) flour
Stoneground flour differs from industrially ground flour in a variety of ways. Grains are milled gently using the stoneground method, being ground slowly between two stones. There are three parts that make up a grain - the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran provides fibre, protein and vitamins that are vital in maintaining a healthy digestive system. The germ provides B vitamins and fatty acids that are necessary for healthy brain function. The endosperm contains starches, carbohydrates, protein, iron and B vitamins. Stoneground milling, which is done in a cool and gentle way, retains these vitamins and nutrients.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, industrially ground flour is ground using high speed rollers that heat the wheat. In this process the bran and the germ taken away, and in doing this, important minerals, fats, fibre and vitamins are also eliminated.
When the steel roller milled flour was first introduced 1900s, people protested the new system due to the great loss in nutritionial content of the flour. It lacked the proteins, fats, vitamins and mineral constituents present in the original grain. It also was said to upset our gut heath or intestinal flora due to the starchy content overload. In 1920, the first head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dr. Harvey Wiley who advocated for pure foods and drugs in the United States tried to outlaw refined, bleached white flour because of the processes involved with making it, and the loss of nutrition (Basey 23).
Stone-Ground White Flour Roller-mill Bleached White Flour
Extraction 81% 72%
Protein 11.20% 10.70%
Fat 1.20% 0.70%
Carbohydrate 67% 80%
Calcium mg. per 100 g 50 22
Iron mg. per 100 g 4 1
Vitamin A (units per 100 g) 200 0
Vitamin B1 (units per 100g) 150 22
Calories per 100 g 370 370
As you can see, Vitamins A and B1 are almost entirely lost in roller milled four. (chart - resilience.org, 2015)
As stoneground milling avoids overheating & dehydration, retaining nutrients and the wheat germ, this allows our unique & natural sourdough starter to slowly ferment over 18 hours. The dough is allowed to rise slowly in order for the beneficial lactobacilli (which aid digestion) to fully develop and the result is a unique, nutty flavour that can’t be obtained any other way.
Many of the health benefits of stoneground flour come from the milling process itself. The stones used stay cold, unlike industrial mills that effectively burn some important nutrients in the milling process. Wheat germ contains high levels of vitamin E, which has been suggested as a cure for many diseases. The nutritional value of flour that has been stoneground is high, as digestibility is increased through this process.
Health benefits of eating bread with flour that has been stoneground include lowered cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that by having a diet that has a low Glycemic Index (GI), weight loss may be easier, a reduction in body fat may be seen and there is a reduction in risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, all of which lead to a higher quality of life.
The stoneground method of milling is used for all of our bread, with different grains used including spelt, wheat, wholemeal wheat and khorasan wheat.
Different types of stoneground flour
Spelt - Stoneground spelt flour is one of the oldest cultivated crops in human history, having first been used over 7000 years ago. Spelt is high in good carbohydrates, and has high levels of protein and dietary fibre, which can assist in lowering cholesterol levels. Spelt also contains high levels of iron, copper, magnesium, vitamin B6 and folic acid. Spelt is great for people with digestive problems and those with wheat sensitivities. Try our 100% Spelt organic sourdough loaf today.
Wholemeal wheat flour - One of the major differences between wholemeal and white flour is the fibre content. Wholemeal flour contains dietary fibre that is beneficial to cholesterol levels and can assist in weight loss. If regulating blood sugar is a concern, wholemeal wheat flour is a better option than white flour as it has a lower GI. It also contains vital vitamins such as vitamins B1, B3 and B5. Taste our 100% Wholemeal organic sourdough to see the difference.
Khorasan - Khorasan wheat is an ancient grain that was originally grown in Iran. The grain itself is known for its nutty flavour and is twice the size of modern day wheat. Studies have shown that khorasan wheat increases antioxidant protection. It also contains high levels of zinc, which promotes healthy thyroid function, and the magnesium contained in the wheat assists in strengthening bone tissue. Try our Ancient Grains + Activated Super Seeds organic sourdough which contains a blend of khorasan and spelt flour.