Moisture: Your grain's # 1 Enemy!
by Jack JenkinsThis morning I received a phone call from a very pleasant lady from Missouri. She said that they had bought the Country Living Mill several months ago and that they had been very happy with it, it gave them beautiful flour. They used wheat that they had stored in their freezer. When they had ground the last of their freezer stored wheat they purchased more grain, packaged in paper bags, from a nearby bulk food store. They then stored the mill and the wheat in their basement. After a couple of months they got in the mood for milling again, but they were disappointed because the quality of the flour was coarse and the mill was hard to turn.
“What happened to the mill?” she queried.
It was hard for me to believe that the mill had changed just sitting there in the basement for a couple of months, but a lot could happen to the grain. I made some delicate inquiries. “ Is it possible that your basement is damp?”
“Why, er, yes I guess that it is.” She offered reluctantly.
After a few more moments of gentle probing she revealed. “ In fact we generally have a dehumidifier running in the basement but it’s been broken for some time.” Bingo, the moisture factor was fully exposed.
Since I’ve felt the heavy-hand of Missourian humidity on several trips to the Midwest it hadn’t been too hard to pinpoint the culprit.
Moisture is probably the most exciting thing in the world for a kernel of grain. And of course that’s how Mother Nature hard wired seeds of every kind from the very beginning of this old world. If it wasn’t so, they couldn’t sprout and reproduce. But if you want to store and grind your grains to make meal and flour then you have to avoid moisture like the plague. To insure maximum storage life, nutrition and good grind-ability, you have to do everything in your power to keep your grain dry.
Unfortunately grains that have more than ten or eleven percent moisture content don’t store well or mill well.
The good news is that grain that has absorbed too much moisture can be dried out on a screen or cookie sheet next to a heater, stove, or in the oven—110 to 125 degrees will work nicely. As soon as it has cooled pop the grain into a waterproof bucket or another airtight container.
We suggest 5 gallon food-grade buckets with Gamma Seal lids. They are a joy to use because of their easy on and off seal-ability. They fit 12-inch plastic buckets and save your knuckles and fingernails.
Good grinding. Jack J.