Just Mill It

Grains for Starters

By Melanie, Published on September 23rd 2023 | 5 mins, 806 words

Grains for Starters

There are SO MANY GRAINS!  Wheat types, heirloom varieties, and gluten free grains.  There are a few options here.  Do you want to buy only one type of grain?  Can you manage to do two types, or three? 

Best in Class

While you really can use most grains for any purpose, some will perform better than the others.  Sort of in order, but also not.  The first one listed is well-known for being the best in class, followed by an ancient best, and then other grains that could also do the trick.

  • Bread - hard wheat, spelt, durum, kamut, einkhorn, emmer
  • Pasta - durum, Kamut, spelt, hard wheat, emmer
  • Pastries - soft wheat, spelt, barley, rye, oats, buckwheat, sorghum

One Grain:

I don't recommend this because variety is good - when you can add in something different, please do.  Different grains have more of certain nutrients than others, and they have different flavors so you don't get bored.  

However, if you can only buy one type of grain, and want the best of all the worlds - SPELT is your grain.  It can be more expensive than the others, but you can make bread, cakes, pastries, and pasta with spelt.  It's the jack of all trades of grains.  It's also considered an ancient grain, which some prefer over the more modern types of grain.

If bread is your main focus, hard wheat would be the one to start with.  You CAN make pasta and pastries with it but the texture won't quite be the same.

If you are all about the pasta, start with durum wheat - but only if you don't care much for pastries at all.

If you don't care for pastries or pasta

Two Grains:

If you can manage buying two types of grains, your milling journey can be so fun and varied.  Some folks can find such great pricing on hard and soft wheat, that they can afford to buy BOTH for the same price as one bag of spelt.

  1. Hard wheat & Soft Wheat - (most folks start here) if you primarily bake breads, pancakes, waffles and the rest, but aren't big on pasta this is the way to start out.  If you are used to that "white bread" from the store - we call it "dead bread" here - start with hard white wheat and soft white wheat before venturing into the wonderful flavors of red wheat.
  2. Durum & Spelt - these two grains can be quite a powerhouse.  First of all, durum is the wheat for pasta.  Mill that, and go to town making all the noodles.  Spelt, as above mentioned, is a powerhouse for everything - alone or combined.  I'd make bread using either 100% spelt OR combine the two for an amazing bread your family will come to love.  Spelt for all the pastries.  #winning
  3. Kamut & Spelt  - just like #2, but this is the ancient grains version.  Kamut is an ancestor of Durum, and it also makes great pasta.  Italy being the biggest user of the grain may tell you something.   Both can be used alone or in combination to bake great breads, and the spelt covers you in the pastries department.
  4. Soft Wheat & Barley  - if you love all the cakes, pies, and cookies and don't give a care about pasta or bread start here!
  5. Soft wheat & Corn  - shoutout to my southerners, who grew up on grits, cornbread, and biscuits with gravy or chicken with waffles.  These two grains will do the trick perfectly!  Bonus if you live in the south, cause that's where these grow best.

Three Grains

  • Most affordable would be hard wheat, soft wheat, and durum or Kamut.
  • My preference?  Hard wheat, spelt, durum or kamut 
    • Why? the spelt can be used for pastries AND mixed with or replace the others if needed 

Extra Grains

  • Rye - known for being higher protein and keeping you full longer, it's my fave to add to breads (and pastries).  Don't worry, the grain doesn't taste like what you think of when you have rye bread.  That's the caraway seeds talking!
  • Barley  - probably one of my favorite "special" grains I wouldn't want do go without.  Barley imparts a nutty flavor to whatever you are baking with.  Chocolate chip cookies?  Delicious.  Waffles and pancakes?  Yes please!  It also works like rye when used in small amounts in bread.  Satiety - check!
  • Corn / Millet - If you love cornbread, either of these grains will do the trick.  We always buy organic for grains, beans, tea and coffee.  That's another day's topic.