Firstly, our apologies for the recent radio silence from Priors Flour HQ! A well needed holiday in September followed by a very busy period of customer orders has meant much of our time has been milling and packing flour.
However, along with the milling, we are also finding time to assess samples of 2020 harvest wheat to decide which parcel of wheat we will buy to provide you with your wheat flours – wholemeal, white, wheaten meal and the base for all our flour mixes as we go forward in to 20201.
You will have heard that this year has been extremely challenging for our farmers given the weather. As a result, we have had fewer samples from our East Anglian farmers to try. I am pleased to say that we are now assessing two promising samples, so in this post and the next post, I explain what goes on as we clean, mill and test bake the wheat samples:
Arrival of the wheat samples
We receive samples from our farmers in the state in which they come off the combine – full of chaff, straw, seeds from other plants and dust.
We can tell a good deal from the colour of the berries (grains) and the old fashioned ‘chew’ test where by chewing a mouthful of grains you can break down the starch, swallow the bran and be left with a ball of gluten!
We also get a laboratory test from the farmer telling us the amount of protein in the grain, the bushel weight, the amount of admix (seeds / muck) and the falling hagberg number – the test used to assess the level of α-amylase activity in the grain (how much the starch in the grain has started to become sugar).
We request around 20kgs of the samples we like the look of from the farmer and then, in the next stage, clean the grain.
Cleaning the Grain
In this short video, I explain how we prepare the grain for milling:
In the next blog post, we’ll look out the process we follow to test bake the samples of wheat, using our current flours as a ‘control’.