Spotlight on Local Grains: Bread


Put some muscle into it!

(To read the older posts in this blog, click here.)

A couple of years ago I tried to get the hang and habit of baking bread by crafting one (small) bread every day. I started with easy-peasy no-knead, refrigerated-dough white bread and made quite a month’s worth of yummy loaves. But when the time came to start mixing in the whole grains to make the dark, dense, rich bread I really love, that method failed me time and time again, and the bread machine did no better. Discouraged, I gave up, and back to the grocery store I went. The Omnivore’s Delight diet is giving me new energy.

Good thing too. Remember¬† the children’s story, “The Little Red Hen”? It took The Kid and me all of 50 minutes to grind the wheat berries to 1 lb. of flour! And this was after I spent many days trying to figure out how to get the wheat in the first place.

If New England doesn’t strike you as the bread basket of America, or even of New England, then you’re about right. They are working on it, and demand for local grains is growing. So here are grain growers within 100 miles from me:, a great resource for finding farm produce, has a couple more small farms that grow grains, and you can widen your search there.

However, it’s getting these grains, locally, that’s the problem. Neither the Wayland Whole Foods nor Debra’s Gourmet carry it. Pete and Jen’s at Codman Farm are supposed to have Four Stars Farm berries, but I didn’t see them there. Some of the above-mentioned growers have online stores, but shipping kills the deal. Time to start talking to local stores, CSA’s, and Farmers Markets about getting these grains into our local market place. If you know of a way, let us know in the comments!

I have some Four Stars in my pantry already, which came in my Siena Farms CSA box along with the cornmeal: barley, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), and soft white winter wheat berries. But some asking around among baker friends revealed those wouldn’t do for the kind of bread I was aiming for. Also, how to grind them into flour?


I know it’s supposed to be spoon and bowl only, but how could I resist touching it?

So I asked my friend, locavore, fellow Transition initiator and baker, Rabbi Katy Allen, who lives around the corner. She recommended the Pioneer Valley Heritage Grains CSA, based in Amherst, MA (77 miles). I promptly signed up, but I’ll have to wait till January for the grains that are still being harvested. In the meantime, I asked if she might spare some hard red wheat, and she could, two kinds even. She gave me a jar of Redeemer winter wheat and a jar of Red Lammas hard red wheat. She even lent us her Victoria grain mill. And she recommended this recipe from the Pioneer Valley website.¬† It takes a village to bake a bread. You know what, it doesn’t surprise me.

Salt and yeast are non-local instant yeast (sourdough would be local). Stage one took all of 5 minutes, and the dough is rising overnight in the fridge.

{UPDATE} This bread turned out awesome!

{UPDATE} The farm stand at Volante Farms in Needham stocks Four Star Farms grains! I just called in a large order of wheat berries and they tacked it onto their shipment.

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