Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pancake Patch

Gene Logsdon has been pushing the idea of grains as a garden crop for some time - a "pancake patch." For a gardener in the pursuit of extreme, high intensity gardening projects, this was immediately appealing - and I say ranks up there with growing bananas in Ohio.

I put his book, Small-Scale Grain Raising, on my library que some months ago, but some local dummy is sitting on his borrowed copy (there's no excuse, it's a very short book). I'll probably just buy a copy when I get some money.

The wind was knocked from my sails this past week however, when my boss pointed out a problem with my plan. He was on a homemade bread tangent when I started asking questions about the logistics of getting usable flour from raw grain. This led him to an anecdote about a local mill that was trying to sell some variety of "local, organic" bread flour. Shortly after it appeared on the shelves, the co-op was inundated with complaints regarding the poor baking quality of the flour.

The fruit quality of grasses, like any plant, is heavily impacted by the environment. Mills routinely test and mix different batches of grain to assure that the final flour product has appropriate levels of gluten, etc. This little local mill, which was only able to buy grain from one farmer its first year, was unable to correct quality imbalances and was forced to sell an inferior product. They hope to recruit additional farms in the new year.

I suppose this isn't a deal breaker - it just means that cereals aren't completely foolproof.

Hmm...
I bet a dwarf wheat variety would make a nice front "yard."

4 comments:

  1. Even if it didn't make the best quality flour, I can definitely see the visual (and plant biology geek) appeal of replacing the turfgrass of a front yard with wheat.

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  2. Rachel Laudan has a great set of posts about the work required to get flour from grains. Short version is that the key is shearing force. Don't try to pound the grain yourself, but a hand-crank flour mill works pretty well--or has the few times I've used the one that one of the farmers brings to our market.

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  3. And for pancakes, flour quality is not that important anyway.

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  4. A friend's mother once made pancake batter in our blender starting with whole wheat berries. Amazingly good pancakes. I haven't repeated the process, though, because five minutes of blender whirring drove me about batty.

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