It's safe to say that things got serious at GRAIN HQ when we booked flights to Austria to track down a 100-year-old, family-owned flour mill manufacturer.
Since day-one, the plan has always been to mill whole grain flour for bakeries, restaurants, cafes and any home baker serious about flavour and freshness. And we knew that finding the right machine to pull it off would be critical. Scouring the web, agriculture newsletters and magazines, and milling and baking books, we shortlisted a few candidates. But in the end, there really was no point in comparing. We had heard rumours of an Austrian stone mill, hand crafted from pine wood, reliable and capable of producing delicious whole grain flour. It sounded perfect, so we tracked them down.
We are so excited that, in less than a week, we expect to be unpacking our very own Austrian stone mill, hand crafted from stone and pine wood by the Osttiroler Getreidemühlen Green company in East Tyrolia.
At Grain we have tried to bring two worlds together — Canadian farmers and the people who eat their products. Knowing our farmers is at the core of our mission. We decided to treat our flour mill, which will become an essential tool of our operation, with the same ethos. And so we decided to get to know the thing by paying its makers a visit.
The Green family have been building stone flour mills for bakeries and restaurants around the world for more than 100 years. Except for the electric motor, their stone mill technology is based on an ancient, proven method of transforming whole grain wheat into delicious, aromatic flour. Two thick, heavy stones with tapered grooves carved in them rotate against each other, slowly grinding whole kernels into fine flour. The slow moving stones are key to keeping the flour temperature low, ensuring minimal effect on the end product. The process bares no resemblance to the modern, highly mechanized processing equipment seen in commercial flour milling operations. It was this dedication to simplicity, craftsmanship and beauty that sent us to Austria.
Near the small mountain town of Lienz we met Heidi Green at her family’s manufacturing warehouse. After the grand tour and some hands-on demonstrations of stone flour mills, we were completely sold. This would be the GRAIN flour mill
The Green family employ numerous crafts people to construct a whole range of different mills to suit various needs. (In Austria and Germany it is not uncommon for pensions, hotels and bakeries to mill their own flour.) The stones are made from Naxos basalt, a super hard aggregate material that requires no sharpening or dressing. And the mill frame is constructed from Austrian pine wood. It all comes together in a beautiful mountain setting in the Tyrollean mountains.
Three months ago we put in our order for a mill and flour sifter combination. This means we’ll be able to fine-tune our flours to our customers’ requests, producing various extraction rates with portions of the coarse bran husk removed.
Two weeks ago the mill left Hamburg on a container ship bound for Montreal. We are beyond excited about its imminent arrival.
To everyone that has been patiently awaiting your first batch of fresh, stone milled flour, thank you! We can’t wait to get our machine up and running, to start milling Bob’s Wheat Berries into delicious whole grain flour.