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Chapter 2: Milling

Wheat Flour
Pages 15-25
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1094/189112725X.002
ISBN: 1-891127-25-X


Topics Covered

  • Historical Perspective
  • Wheat Sourcing
  • Dry Milling
    • Process
    • Products
  • Miling of Soft Wheat, Hard Wheat, and Durum
  • Flour Storage
  • Wet Milling
  • Factors Important to the Miller

Introduction to Chapter

Milling is simply the reduction of wheat kernels to smaller particles that can be made into more palatable products. In modern times, it involves, more specifically, the separation of the germ and bran from the endosperm and the reduction of the endosperm to flour. As with fermentation, cooking, and many of the other food processes, the origins of milling are lost in antiquity.

The first miller was the first person to put a wheat kernel in his or her mouth and bite. Clearly, this was not a very efficient means of milling, and rough hand implements such as stones fashioned to rough mortars and pestles (Fig. 2-1) evolved about 8000 B.C. There is evidence of sieves to separate flour from unwanted parts of the wheat plant as early as 6000 B.C. The first mechanical mills (i.e., querns) employed two horizontally mounted stone disks. Wheat was fed between them, and the disks were manually rotated. Querns evolved to more sophisticated mills, called rotary mills, in which men and animals powered rotating stone disks cut to more efficiently grind wheat and channel it away. About 100 B.C., waterpower was first employed in milling wheat, and in about 1200 A.D., the first windmills were used. The first manufacturing process to be automated was milling; the implementation of the first milling machinery is credited to Oliver Evans in 1785. The concept of gradual reduction, which persists today, originated in the 19th century in Hungary. The sophisticated means of grinding, separating, and conveying used in modern mills are based on the same basic processes employed in these early mills.