Monday, September 22, 2014

Story of Rye Flour

Rye planted September 2013. It already sprouted up before the heavy snows.
Rye coming up Spring 2014
Rye starting to form seeds Spring 2014
Showing tall and strong

It's almost ready to harvest.
July - I am cutting off the tops - Bobby took this picture.
What am I going to do with all this? It's a king size sheet and it's full!
Weeks of hand removing the seeds - and I mean WEEKS

At the millers. I winnowed it 3 times and it still had little pieces

Milling Machine - Made in the USA
14 POUNDS OF FLOUR! Wow! It was warm too.
Top of Milling Machine

It's so Beautiful.

I want to Thank Ted from Ted's Organic Grains for meeting me today to grind my rye seeds into this beautiful flour. He was very generous and I appreciate it. I can't wait to bake ANYTHING with this heavenly smelling flour.

Pigs were tasting the clean out - They were squealing like crazy.

A Billy licking his lips.
Pet Me! Pet Me!
So - the pictures are a little story of the Rye that I grew at the Garden behind the Naperville Community Nursing and Rehab Center. I couldn't do this without them and I will bake each of the Angels some cinnamon rolls made with a little of the flour. So they can taste some of the love and home ground freshness. I'm searching for some little flour sacks to give them each a little bag. What am I going to do with 14 pounds? It's a lot. Then they too will have a little of the rye that grew in their back yard.

I started the seeds in September of 2013. I ground them into flour today, September 22, 2014. The process was only difficult at harvest time. In the fall, I sprinkled seeds in 4 straight rows. They started to grow in days. I wasn't sure if the heavy winter killed them but in the spring, they came up and grew really fast. It was so green and when they got tall - about 6 feet, they swayed beautifully in the wind. The calmness they projected was incredible.

Anyway - the work begins when you harvest. You forget how beautiful they looked. HA HA - After you cut them, you need to dry them. We had a very rainy summer so I couldn't leave them in the field in piles to dry. So, I dragged them all home in two sheets. A king size AND a double sheet. It was heavy and really hard to deal with. So, I cleared the floor of the spare room and let them dry on the sheets. It was like sheet sacks - I would shake them up every now and then to make sure they were dry -  I picked them all in July. So they dried for almost two months. They were bone dry by the end of August.

Then - here's the fun part. You need to remove the seeds. You would think that you can just grab a stalk and swing it on a sheet and they will just fall out. You would think that right? But No. It takes force to get them out. I saw a u-tube video that you put them in a pillow sack and then just smack the sack with a shoe. I used a boot, a mallet, baseball bat and even stomped on it. I would get about 30 kernels.  SO - I started pulling out a box full, dragged it to the living room and popped them out in a bucket by hand while watching TV. This was the only way to get them all out. I had splinters in all my fingers.

3 - 4 weeks go by and I barely made a dent in the king sheet. I was only able to get through the double sheet bundle. I still had a large amount to go and I already set up with Ted to have it ground - I needed to go back to the shoe, mallet, baseball bat method. So - I dragged the king sheet bundle back over to the garden. Got the pillow case out again and sat on the ground for 2 1/2 hours and beat them. After a while, I got the hang of it and got a lot of kernels out. I know I could of gotten a lot more but enough was enough for a first timer.

Now - you would think this is done now - wouldn't you? But No - still one more thing to do. Winnow. You need to let wind blow on the kernels to remove the little dry hairy pieces. I can't remember what they are called but they look like little airy straws.

I placed a house fan on a chair in front of the balcony door - blowing outside. I had to slowly pour the seeds with all the hairy pieces in front of the fan into a bucket. Not fast - real slow. As it's pouring, only the seeds fall into the bucket and all the none seed stuff blows in the wind. (And all over me, the balcony, the chairs and shoes) I had to do this 3 times.

Finally. They were now ready to be milled and ground into flour. After all the work just to get them into grind-able kernels, I thought - I'm getting some help on the grinding. My little coffee grinder would of burnt out with all this. So - Ted agreed to mill and I met him at Heritage Prairie Farm today. The pigs and the Billy Goat were a treat.  I didn't expect to see any farm animals so BONUS!

I'll bake next weekend if I have time and add the final picture to the rye story. Thanks for reading. Barbara