Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Grain Roller, Was It Worth It?


I bought this Marcato grain roller hoping to rolled my own grains. I have found through experience that rolled oats go bad but wheat stays good for years and years. So I figured storing whole oats would be a good way to keep them for long term storage. So with two rebates from our cell phones we had to replace and a gift certificate I'd gotten for wellness testing, I had almost enough to replace our wheat grinder that bit the dust and buy this grain roller.
I couldn't find much information on it, as in someone who actually uses it. I can see with the little time I've spent today fussing with it, the instructions are WAY too simplistic. Especially since three-fourths of the slim booklet is in foreign languages. 
 Oh well, what's new? Most of what I know is from the Internet and exploration on my own. Since oatmeal was my main goal, I drug in a bag of triple cleaned oats that I bought for the livestock and began my adventure. That is all human grain is, triple cleaned. I know this because that is how I use to buy wheat from the farmers so I figured the livestock could share a little, after all I'm the one buying.

When the result was this. I began looking on the Internet to see if they grew a different strain of oats for animals than humans. I knew that farmers in the area I grew up contracted with different beer companies and raised different strains of barley which they claim imparted a distinct flavor to the beer. I don't drink booze so I've not tested the fact. Some of you might know this for sure.

Hoping not all was lost, I tried taking this outside to the little breeze that was blowing but it did what I thought and took the whole shibang with it. Nope, no winnowing done with this.  Good thing I only did a small amount.

Then I tried some white wheat kernels.
They didn't roll real well either but better than the oats so I called in frustration the shop I'd ordered my roller from. They recommended soaking the grain for a minute in water. I used hot water and tried 2 minutes. The result was better. But now I have moist rolled wheat that has to be used right away and it still looks way too smooshed. 
The Internet speaks of a couple ways of swelling the grains before rolling. Definitely more than  a minute in warm water. 
 I'm wondering about steaming the grains since that is what they do when they roll grains commercially for livestock. The Internet site didn't mention this but it did say heating in the oven for over and hour on low. That is a lot of energy used.
Steaming might work for grains like rye and wheat but there still was the problem of the whole oats which the store said didn't need soaking. Fine but the hulls still needed removed, something they didn't mention. I suppose they've never seen whole oats since this was the city I called.  
When I used some cracked oats I'd gotten from the health food store in Colorado some months back., that I need to use it up....
I actually had real oatmeal. Whoo, hoo!!. A quick oats style since the pieces were small but oatmeal none the less. I'm planning on making oatmeal bread and cookies tomorrow. I'll throw in the tiny bit of rolled wheat too. But tonight I'm blogging.

That didn't take care of my question, " How can I store oats whole so I can make the choice of flour or oatmeal?" Hulling your own oats didn't look feasible as I guess the equipment is expensive and for as little as I would use it, it is just not cost effective. The roller was I think $119 and the dehuller is in the hundreds to thousands. That leaves buying dehulled oats.

Organic dehulled oats aren't cheap and so I'm looking into buying 35 pounds of hulled oats for storage. Can't afford any bigger size but actually I can't afford it at all right now. I believe in checking things out wa....y before purchasing. The grain roller I've had my eye on for a year and a half.

Then as I was searching for organic hulled oats, I ran across a few articles on hulless oats. They are naturally 95% hulless. It sounded pretty good when I read about Avena Nuda as it grows in wasteland, cultivated ground and meadows, especially on heavier soils. Wasteland, and heavy soil we've got. But it doesn't like cold temperatures which we've also got and a short growing season.

Then I saw Paul hulless oats grown by North Dakota Agriculture Experiment Station in 1984. We're neighbors and since North Dakota knows about short growing seasons and especially about cold weather this strain was sounding good. BUT then I saw the low yields and though I'm wanting to try growing small patches of grain to gain the knowledge necessary in case I need it in the future, I'll just keep an eye on this project for future investigation. I need to know a whole lot more before I begin. 

I'm a bit disappointed in my grain roller. It doesn't quite do what I want but then again, I think part of that is ignorance on my part. I need to do a bit more work to figure out just how to prepare the whole grains before rolling. I'll definitely try  steaming them. To me, a hundred bucks is alot of money even if most of the cost of my wheat grinder and grain roller were bought with rebate and reward cards. I could have bought something else with them. I'll keep you updated on my results but for now I've got other projects waiting since I have enough rolled grains for bread and cookies.

Anybody else have experience in this area to share?

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