What Grains Should I Get?

What Grains Should I Get?
Various grains ready to be milled

You either tasted the delicious fresh milled bread or pastries of a friend and are hooked, or you're open to the idea of eating good food while getting top nutrition. Maybe you jumped in head first and already bought a mill. Now what? You need some grains, and which ones to buy is going to depend on you and your family's existing habits.

What Do you Eat the Most?

If you love to make muffins and cookies, pancakes or waffles - the type of grain will be different from what someone who is all about the pasta or bread! After that, it depends on if you have very picky eaters, or are open to variety and adventure for your palate

Pasta


This category uses the hardest of all the grains (highest protein), and is made without leavening (yeast or baking powder/baking soda).

Hardest / Pasta Grains
Ideal Durum Wheat
Ancient Khorasan (Kamut) / Emmer

Bread


This category does best with strong grains (high protein content) likely to form a good amount the gluten network that makes great bread. It can be leavened with yeast, sourdough starter, wild yeasts, or even baking powder (as in Irish Soda Bread).

Hard / Bread Grains
Ideal Hard White Wheat, Hard Red Wheat (Spring or Winter)
Ancient Einkhorn, Spelt, or Rye plus the "Pasta" grains above

Pastries

Leavened most often with baking soda or baking powder, and sometimes eggs (think popovers), soft grains with lower protein will help give a light and tender crumb.

Soft / Pastry Grains
Ideal Soft White Wheat, Soft Red Wheat
Ancient Spelt, Barley, Rye, gluten free grains
Sometimes you want pastries that are tender, but aren't quite so tender that they easily come apart. This is when an all-purpose would work, by milling a mixture of grains, such as 1/2 hard 1/2 soft grains, or you could split the difference into thirds based on which properties you'd prefer (softer crumb vs. holds together better).

What if you can only afford ONE type of grain?

Choose the grain based on the category you would bake from the most. So if it's bread, you can buy hard white wheat and just be sure to mix your pastries VERY little so the gluten is not developed.

If you make pastries the most, but still would like some bread, you can get soft white wheat or even Spelt. When making bread with these, you will want to be sure to mix your bread dough longer for better gluten development and structure OR add a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to your bread dough to help it along in that department.

You can actually use ANY of these grains for ANY of the categories - they will just not be as great as they will be when using the best grains for the job. I always advise you to start with whatever you make or eat the most often in your household, and then add on from there. If bread isn't your jam, don't start with that!

About the author
Melanie Carr

Melanie Carr

I'm a chiropractor for my day job, but the rest of the time I home school and enjoy sharing about the benefits of fresh milled flour.

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