Fed up with trying to find the right flour for your diet? Have a go at making your own…
The best way to make flour at home is with a specialist flour mill, or a high-speed blender – preferably with a dry blade attachment. It’s an investment, but it gives so much flexibility and variety. Homemade flour is cheaper and more nutritious than buying flours ready-made, so it’s worth experimenting. It’ll definitely pay off over time if you do it regularly.
If you don’t have any fancy kit, many food processors come with a nut blender attachment, which I’ve found works for small batches. It won’t give a fine-grade flour – it’s quite mealy – but it’s not bad. If you want to aim for a finer grade you can always sift it and add some of the ingredients back for a second milling. Coffee grinders can also be used for small batches.
If you want to go a step further, a major benefit of making your own flour is that you can soak, sprout and/or cook wholefoods, then dehydrate them before milling, to help reduce antinutrients. This process also makes the ingredients softer and easier for the machine to handle, which in most cases creates a finer flour. In either case, the result won’t be as fine as the sort you’d buy, but it should be pretty close. If you do soak your dry ingredients, it’s very important to dehydrate them thoroughly, or the flour won’t grind properly.
It’s also important to grind small quantities at a time if you’re using a blender, to give the ingredients space to move. This gives a finer and more even texture. In a Vitamix, that means the blades will still just be visible above the ingredients.
The equipment we use
Some gluten-free examples
- Blend about 100g of desiccated coconut at a time, at high speed for 10 seconds.
- Scrape down the sides with a spatula or the blunt edge of a knife and repeat until it turns fluffy. Stop when it first shows signs of releasing oil and sticking together.
Brown rice flour
- We use a yoghurt maker to soak our rice at 42°C (108°F), but you can soak in a warm place or at room temperature if you prefer. Ideally add a tablespoon of vinegar, whey, yoghurt or lemon juice to the water. Leave it for 24 hours, changing the water after 12. Hygiene is especially important when soaking, especially at this temperature, as microbes love it. Ideally soak in a glass jar with a good seal, and make sure it’s carefully washed before use – either in a dishwasher or in very hot water (not boiling, or it may crack).
- Rinse and strain it thoroughly, then dehydrate at 55° for 5 hours.
- Blend the dry rice about 100g at a time, at high speed for about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides with a spatula or the blunt edge of a knife and repeat until it’s a soft powder. Sift out any remaining coarse grains and add them to the next batch.
Red lentil flour
If you’re using lentil flour for a recipe that requires boiling the finished product in water – such as pasta or gnocchi – it’s important not to use pre-cooked lentils. This includes any heat during soaking, if you’re planning to include that step. It’s also important to grind the flour as finely as possible for this use, so it’s less likely to fall apart in the water.
Preparation method 1: flour for gnocchi or pasta recipes
Soak the dry lentils in water with a generous pinch of salt, for 12 hours at room temperature. Rinse and strain them, then dehydrate at 55° for 5 hours.
- Blend the lentils about 100g a time, at high speed for 20 seconds.
- Scrape down the sides with a spatula or the blunt edge of a knife and repeat until the mix turns lighter coloured and powdery. Sift out any remaining coarse meal and add it to the next batch.
Preparation method 2: heat-activated soaking for baking recipes
We use a yoghurt maker to soak at 42°C (108°F), but a warm place or room temperature are both fine. Either way, ideally add a tablespoon of vinegar, whey, yoghurt or lemon juice. Leave it for 24 hours, changing the water after 12. Rinse and strain, then dehydrate them at 55° for 5 hours, and blend as in method 1. (See notes on hygiene under brown rice above.)
Preparation method 3: using raw dry ingredients
You can skip all the soaking and dehydrating steps, and just blend as in method 1 if you’re pushed for time, but bear in mind the flour will be higher in antinutrients. This is not so bad if you’re using the flour to bake at high temperatures, as that will help reduce phytates to some extent.
Flour will lose its freshness much more quickly than wholefoods. Ideally buy or make it in small batches, and use it as soon as possible. If you need to store it short-term, use an air-tight container such as a mason jar, and keep it in a cool, dark place.
Got any tips or questions of your own about making gluten-free flour? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.