Niche Food Processing will always remain prime business

Focus on Artisanal Wheat & Ancient Grain Milling

Wheat – that grain used for our daily bread and descendant of the ancient grains originally grown and selected in the fertile crescent and the mainstay of the agricultural revolution, in modern times was the domain of large scale industrial mills, very often due to centralized government policies and bread subsidies to the masses. The village wheat flour mill practically disappeared.

Since the early 1990’s ABC Hansen Africa piloted the way for artisanal milling of flour in plants of 12 to 75 tons per day and focusses on high value, low volume, highly efficient milling.

Ordinary commercial wheat flour can broadly be classified as follows:?

  • Cake Flour:
    • Protein 8-10%; Particle size < 160 micron; Ash < 0.65%. Colour – white with very few noticeable bran specks. Extraction 50-60%. Used for confectionery baking, often with baking powder rather than yeast due to lower protein. White Bread flour: Protein 10-12%; Particle size < 212 micron; Ash < 0.78% Colour white with some noticeable specks. Extraction 70- 78% Used for baking most yeast product where a good rise is required. Brown bread flour: Protein 9-11% Particle size 85%< 212 micron; 15%> 212 micron. Ash – not measured.
    • Colour white with large flakes of bran.
    • Used almost exclusively for brown yeast bread.
  • Self-raising flour:
    • This is simply low protein (below 9%) cake flour with baking powder added to it to allow for easy baking of non-yeast products and is a home-bake, small package value adding product by industrial mill.
  • Industrial flour:
    • Protein – not measured, Particle size < 300 micron. Ash – > 1%.
    • Off-white flour with many bran specks.
    • Used in brown bread mix as well as for biscuits and other confectionery products where its off-white colour and rise is not important. Also used as filler in foods and sweet meats, soups, gravy etc.
  • Semolina
    • This type of flour is coarse – normally above 300 micron and below 1mm and is traditionally made from durum wheat – a wheat type with very low gluten (the protein in wheat that lends wheat its “stretchability” needed to expand in the fermentation process while retaining the “bubbles” intact. This is used in manufacturing pasta and cous-cous for instance and is separated from fine bran by air and vibration through a machine called a purifier.
  • By-products:
    • Wheaten bran used in animal feeds and fillers. Pollard (very fine bran) used as fillers in food such as processed meats, biscuits etc. Screenings used as animal feeds.
Our focus however is on Stone Ground Artisanal Flour milling…..

StoneGround* artisanal flour:
As the name indicates, this can be virtually any flour that works for the application it is milled for, be that for confectionary, artisanal (rather than industrial) bread, flat breads, pita breads, pizza crust, sourdough breads etc. and is normally of higher ash value** than industrial white bread, has a colour varying between white, slightly creamy up to almost Khaki coloured and has the same particle size as cake flour and white bread flour, has the wheat germ (with its many nutrients) intact, is not chemically bleached and has many variations the miller can apply to make custom flour for his ultra discerning baker-customer.

Ancient grains such as spelt, Khorasan wheat (Kamut), freekeh, bulgur, farro, einkorn, emmer; barley, oats, rye and the pseudocereals quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and chia for which a limited upper end demand exist, can be profitably milled with a stone ground artisanal milling system.
** Ash content denotes the percentage of minerals, primarily originating in the bran, remaining after the flour has been incinerated, therefore providing an index as to the bran content in the flour and subsequently its “purity” in terms of advanced refined carbohydrates – nothing to be really proud of for those seeking healthier food products.

  • Why an Artisanal StoneGround Mill?
    • Stone Ground* flour is known to absorb more water due to the higher starch damage millstones inflict on the grain which in turn provides a softer mouthfeel in the final product.
      It has more fine bran particles allowing better digestion and reducing the incidence of colon cancer for instance. It can be processed to have as low ash content as industrial white bread and cake flour but it defeats the object.
    • It has minimal contact with steel in die grinding process and in smaller plants specifically, steel roller mills need not be used at all. Rollers are primarily used to increase low ash content yield for those millers who still rely on having to be competitive with the large industrial mills.
    • It retains the wheat germ with its all wholesomeness.
    • It is never chemically bleached neither are chemicals and enzymes added to improve poor flour’s baking quality.
    • The artisanal miller can produce flours and flour blends that suit a variety of baked products and lend a special taste, appearance, and mouthfeel to such custom products.
    • An artisanal mill in your town encourages local industry, provides local employment and entrepreneurship, supports organic and high-quality grain growers, encourages healthy eating habits, and contributes to the community.

So, what equipment should be used to produce StoneGround artisanal flour?
To produce StoneGround* flour, a miller needs the following equipment:
An intake system for wheat as well as storage in at least 3 silos or bins, from which a grist is blended to ensure the same quality flour over a longer period and to optimize on raw material cost.
A day bin in which the grist is placed prior to milling is also important.
ABC Hansen Quail* II Cleaner and aspirator, dampener and conditioning bins where cleaned and moistured grain is detained for 24 – 36 hours prior to milling ensures high quality mature flour.
A scourer or polisher – in the case of ABC Hansen’s mills a Tempest* Stone Grain Polisher removes some of the outer bran and dirt collected on the grain kernels.
A Hurricane* roller mill with four roller passages may be used to remove all the bran from the endosperm providing for a whiter flour. Alternatively the wheat can be milled through several passes over StoneGround* stone mills until the endosperm is completely milled down.
If a roller mill us used, high capacity and a cleaner flour can be achieved. Once flour and bran is screened out, the middlings (coarse endosperm particles) are then introduced to the stone mill or several stone mills followed by sifting processes.
An ABC Hansen blender is always a requirement to blend bran and flour at the correct proportions or rye flour and wheat flour or any of the other ancient grains for specialty flour.

*StoneGround stone mills is a registered brand of ABC Hansen fitted with the world-famous Danish Engsko stones (circa 1900).

  • Tempest grain polishers, Hurricane roller mills, Quail cleaners and Hippo hammer mills are all registered brands manufactured by ABC Hansen

950mm diameter stone mill with 18.5kW motor

Hurricane Roller Mill – Quad sets rollers – 250mm diameter x 500mm wide for separating bran from endosperm

Grain polisher with 15kW motor removing the outer layer of bran and improving the colour of the flour.

An N-type planetary sifter used in artisanal flour mills.

The 2-3 ton per hour Quail II eccentric cleaner with aspiration

ABC Hansen Rotary sifter – often used after the stone mill with outlets for fine flour, industrial flour, and pollard.

A purifier – separating bran from semolina (in a pasta flour mill) or middlings (in a bread flour mill) increasing the quality of flour if measured by the whiteness of the flour. Of course, this is not necessary for Artisanal milling plants.

Typical StoneGround 1 T/h artisanal flour mill
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