Prices quoted on the Internet for rye grain vary greatly. When you compare offers per lb. of grain, make sure that you include shipping charges, since they vary significantly.
Before you order a large amount of rye grain, say in a 50 lb. bag, make sure that you have storage containers available that are absolutely airtight. If you store grain any other way in your home, critters will surely get in there and ruin the grain. Even a container that is almost airtight, such as a plastic bucket previously used to deliver food, is not good enough.
There is an easy way to get the desired airtight container and a substantial quantity of rye grain at the same time: Simply order the grain in such a container.
The Honeyville company supplies grain that way at reasonable cost. Their airtight bucket contains 40 lb. of rye grain. On top, the grain inside the bucket is vacuum-packed in an aluminum bag, together with a desiccant bag. This guarantees that the grain is in perfect condition and will remain that way as you are using it. The price for the bucket with 40 lb. of rye grain plus shipping within the continental US is less than $85 (2018).
Quite some time ago, we made two such purchases from Honeyville and thus ended up with two airtight, high-quality buckets. So now we always order 50 lb. of rye grain in a strong paper bag from the same company, at a cost of less than $65 (2018) including shipping. Upon arrival, we split the 50 lb. of rye among the two buckets. This brings cost down to a reasonable $1.30 per lb. of rye grain including shipping.
If you only intend to bake breads based on rye grain, there is no need for you to acquire wheat grain. But if you want to bake wheat bread (Weizenbrot) with coarse wheat flour, you need to acquire wheat grain. Mind you, if this is a rare event, you can just buy a few pounds of wheat grain.
But if you intend to bake wheat bread with coarse wheat flour rather often, then you may want to acquire a larger quantity of wheat grain. In that case, the above discussion about rye grain applies fully to wheat grain. This includes the use of airtight buckets for storage. The Honeyville company supplies wheat grain just as described above for rye grain, at essentially the same price.
A good question is: Why should you purchase commercially produced wheat flour when wheat flour could be readily obtained by milling wheat grain? The answer is: Because you need a light and fluffy filler to get the oven spring for the sourdough breads described here, and because you cannot obtain such flour yourself by milling wheat grains.
Over the years, wheat grains, like many other foods, have — depending on viewpoint — been improved or tampered with. In particular, the gluten content has been raised so that ever crispier and lighter baking goods can be produced.
It is sometimes claimed that the increased gluten content of wheat grain is partly to blame for the growing gluten intolerance in the US.
Be that as it may, it is important that the wheat flour we use in our rye breads has a reasonable amount of gluten: not too little, and not too much. If it is not enough, the bread will not rise sufficiently. And if it is too much, the bread will have a rubbery texture.
Wheat flour offered for baking bread seems to have the right gluten content. The photo shows the brand we have used for many years.
Baking Sourdough Bread: Overview
Purchasing Grains and Flours ← You are here
Equipment for Grinding Grain, Baking, and Slicing Bread
Getting and Processing Sourdough Starter
Formulas for Baking Sourdough Rye and Wheat Breads
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