While today it is used often as a marketing ploy, the term “stone ground” has a sincere meaning. Traditionally, stone ground means flour, or other grain, that is just that, stone ground. Stone grinding is very labor intensive and quite slow. A miller must observe the milling process from start to finish to make sure stones aren’t getting too hot and the flour is at the right texture, all while only producing about 2,000 pounds of flour per hour. That number may seem like a lot, but compared to the 3 million pounds of flour a computer generated roller mill can produce per day, that number is quite small.
So, what’s the deal with the flour you buy at other grocery stores? Majority of the time, it is “enriched” (if that’s what you want to call it) with vitamins and preservatives because the original nutritional value was burned off during the roller mill process. Even “whole wheat” flour is often not truly whole wheat because of the lack of nutritional value. Mark Fischer of Castle Valley Mill tells WHYY,
“There are two things we do that keeps all the nutrition in the food. One is that we are using the whole grain so that when we grind it we are grinding the outside bran along with the inside seed part called the germ and the endosperm which is the inside chalky part. So we are keeping the whole grain together in one piece and all the vitamins and nutrition associated with it. The other thing we are doing is stone grinding it. When you grind commercially you do roller milling which is a very hot process it heats it up and it literally cooks out all the vitamins. So, all flour has to say enriched or fortified so you know they have to squirt synthetic vitamins back in to give it nutritional value. When you grind it on stones it’s a very slow process and it keeps the product cool so all the vitamins and nutrition stay in.”
Bleaching is also extremely common due to the desire for white flour.
We are lucky to carry Mark’s products in store, but don’t look in the baking aisle! Because stone ground flour is not filled with preservative like white, enriched flour, it must be refrigerated. Look for Castle Valley Mill products in our refrigerated aisle, near the yogurt and milk.
Check out the recipe below for Mark’s Whole Wheat Molasses Cookies. I had one (or two… or three) – they’re AMAZING!
¾ cup butter (or ½ cup butter & ¼ cup shortening)
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ cup molasses
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cups whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
granulated sugar for rolling cookies
In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and molasses until well blended.
In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Stir into the creamed mixture until blended. Chill for 1 hour, or until firm.
Heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Shape the dough into small balls about 3/4 inch in diameter; roll in the granulated sugar and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 to 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 9 ½ minutes, or until set. Cool in pan on a rack for 2 minutes; remove to a rack to cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.