Texas Neighbors Spring 2015 : Page 26


Our Daily Bread

Jessica Domel

Waxahachie farm family takes wheat from the field to the kitchen…

You won’t find a loaf of store-bought bread in the Dineen house. Not since Heather and John Paul III found a way to take their wheat from the field to the kitchen. The Ellis County farm family and Farm Bureau members don’t keep the goodies to themselves. They market the wheat grown in their fields to home cooks so they can mill their own flour. It all started on Facebook. They noted the direction some foodies were heading. Many were buying raw wheat kernels— what they call “wheat berries”—grown by a farmer, then repackaged and sold by a third party. “We noticed what our consumers were doing, and it caused us to pay attention,” Heather said.

Noting that a farmer wasn’t involved, the couple decided this was a way they could reach consumers.

“We found a lot of these folks may be looking for a certain type of flour or grain–the way that it’s raised,” said John Paul. “They’ll come to us at first and say, ‘We don’t want the commercial product.’ Then they’ll ask us how we raise it, they’ll make that connection and it will change their mind.”

To prepare the grain for consumers, it is separated mechanically and by hand.

The rejected parts are used to make homemade chicken feed. The good parts will go to make the Dineen family’s bread for the day.

The wheat is packaged and frozen until a customer places an order or until the Dineens need a loaf of bread, another cake or cinnamon rolls.

For home baking, the Dineens use an electric stone mill to grind the wheat into flour. The turn of a knob leads to either hard or soft wheat, depending on what the cook needs that day.

“The hard wheat, they’re going to use that in baking breads and things like that. It’s high gluten content,” John Paul said. “It will rise and have a little different color. A deeper color. The soft wheat, they’ll use for pastries and things they don’t want to rise, like pizza dough.”

For more of an “all-purpose” flour, there’s an in-between, a mix of the hard and soft wheat flour.

There are state requirements for selling the wheat under the Texas Food Cottage law.

“There are a lot of different restrictions and things it doesn’t allow you to do, but there are things it does allow you to do,” John Paul said. “For us, under the wheat ‘berries,’ we are allowed to process the wheat ‘berries,’ package those as long as we have required labeling and put those in the mail. We can also sell them directly to you or through a store, and that’s fine.”

Presently, the Dineens cannot sell their homemade wheat flour via the internet. But in the very near future, they’ll be able to sell it online right next to their homegrown wheat “berries.”

“We are transitioning to a Texas Food Manufacturer license,” John Paul said. “We are building a certified kitchen.”

We’ll be able to sell to restaurants. We’ll be able to put our flour on the store shelves. It will really open up a lot of doors to where we can bring our product from the farm right to your shelf through the same family.”

The Dineens’ wheat flour is whole grain. Unlike store-bought white flour, it still contains wheat oil, wheat germ and bran. It’s not sifted or bleached.

The whole process has helped the family to appreciate what they grow from beginning to end. In the past, their connection with their wheat started with planting the seed and ended when harvest was stored at the elevator. It’s different today.

“Processing that wheat into flour, cooking it myself and putting it on the table for my family has caused me to fall in love with my commodity,” Heather said.

The Dineens are taking a number of nutrition courses to learn more about what they’re making and selling. They continue their education so they can accurately answer consumers’ questions.

“Whole grains are pretty important,” Heather said. “In fact, they recommend, if you’re not getting whole grains now, that you try to replace at least half of your grains with a whole grain.”

The Dineens are currently selling their “berries” through www.facebook.com/theyellowfarmhouse and TheYellowFarmhouse.com.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Our+Daily+Bread/1964582/251234/article.html.

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