June 13, 2009

Storing Whole Wheat and Making Something Sweet (Pie Crust)!

Okay. So I'm starting this blog "growing and eating much of our own food..." with a big lie. Because we didn't grow this wheat. Our neighbor did.

But I might as well start out with imperfection here... because if anyone ever actually reads any of this babble (Hi, Mom!) they will easily see my shortcomings. So I'm not even going to try to hide them.

Besides, this wheat was 'almost' home grown, as I watched it's daily progress, from a field of tender little green shoots in neat, straight rows, to a beautiful golden sea of graceful summer waves. I thought about it in the winter as it lay below a cold blanket of snow. I watched for it to perk up in the spring. I prayed for rain when it was thirsty. And I rejoiced at harvest time even as the cloud of wheat husks veiled everything in dust.

I like to watch food grow.

Dry wheat berries will keep almost indefinitely in an airtight container. I use food grade 5 gallon buckets with a tight fitting lid. These wheat berries came straight out of the combine. I placed the whole sealed container in the freezer for a number of days, thawed it out for a couple of weeks, and then froze it again for a while to destroy any possible insects or insect eggs. Now it is stays in the pantry and I grind it as needed.

There are a number of different ways to grind wheat. One of the quickest and easiest ways is to grind it in your blender. It only takes a few seconds to do it that way. I usually use the blender because it's so convenient.

Freshly ground whole wheat makes a flaky pie crust and I think it adds a nice mellow flavor to the pie. But I might be biased because, well, we're talking PIE here. What's not to like?

Everyone has their favorite recipe for pie crust. Here's mine. It's easy!


(Recipe makes enough for a top and a bottom crust)

2 cups all purpose flour (or 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon cold butter

1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon cold lard

4-6 Tablespoons ice cold water

Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut up cold butter and cold lard into the bowl and place bowl in freezer for a few minutes.

Make a small glass if ice water and place it in the freezer.

Remove bowl of flour from freezer and use two forks or pastry cutter to break up butter and lard into pea sized bits.

Add 4-6 Tablespoons of ice water, as needed, from the cold cup of ice water and mix together just until dough is wet enough to be rolled out.

Divide dough into 2 equal portions.

Roll out each portion separately on a lightly floured surface. It's alright if there are a few cracks or breaks along the edges. They can usually be mended with a bit of leftover crust later without any one even noticing.

Place in pie plate, cut to fit, (mend any cracks) and bake as directed for the pie you are making.

If I am making a one crust pie I don't roll out the unused portion. I wrap it in plastic wrap, label it, and put it in the freezer. Pie crust freezes well and can be thawed and rolled out for your next pie with good results.

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