What is the “Community Grains Whole Grain Standard?”
Community Grains defines “whole grain” as the grain in its entirety— 100% of the germ, bran, and endosperm found in the grain, according to FDA guidelines.
Beyond that standard, our flour is milled without separating those three components at any point in the milling process, and nothing is added. Our flours are not reconstituted.
FDA Guidelines: Cereal grains that consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked caryopsis, whose principal anatomical components – the starchy endosperm, germ and bran – are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact caryopsis – should be considered a whole grain food.
What products does Community Grains offer?
We sell a line of whole grain dried pastas, whole grain polenta integrale, whole grain flour, and a variety of heirloom beans for both retail & food service. All of our products are 100% California grown and our wheat flours1 & corn polentas are all whole milled to preserve all the grains’ nutrients and flavor.
Why aren’t your flours, pastas, or beans organic?
Community Grains believes strongly in organic growing and storage methods, and our ultimate goal is to offer a range of organically grown products. Unfortunately, at this point in California, there is a lack of local mills and storage facilities for organic wheat farmers. This is a major hindrance, and makes growing, cleaning, milling, and storing organic wheat challenging and cost prohibitive for many farmers.
Because of this, we decided that our first goal would be to educate on the benefits and full flavor of true whole grain flours, as well as explain how the current industrial model works [or doesn’t work] when it comes to grain. As more awareness and demand for locally grown grains grows, we believe more farmers will begin to pursue growing grains outside the current industrial structure, and begin growing them organically.
That being said, California-grown organic wheat is steadily becoming available in increasing amounts. As we’ve created more relationships with smaller farmers, they are beginning to organize and are trying to establish more local storage and cleaning facilities outside of the ubiquitous industrial structure.
To showcase such endeavors we do offer a (limited run) line of pasta made with California grown organic wheat called Identity Preserved. This pasta takes our company’s commitment to transparency to the next level by providing detailed information on the label about the breed or hybrid of wheat and variety used, where it was grown, when it was harvested, when and where the wheat was milled, and the type of milling wheel used. The first product in the Identity Preserved Wheat line is a Fusilli Lunghi, made from Hard Amber Durum wheat, and grown by certified organic Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg, California, a 100-acre farm situated on the banks of the Russian River. Additional pastas made with different varieties of wheat and grown by other small-scale farms will follow. The products are sold in smaller specialty stores such as Bi-Rite Market and Avedano’s in San Francisco as well as online.
As for beans, even the conventionally grown beans grown in CA are very expensive due to the fact that they must be hand sorted. At this time, the cost of selling organically grown beans would be prohibitive. But we are hopeful that some time in future, when more affordable technology becomes available we will be able to offer organically grown beans.
Our polenta is 100% organically grown.
So are your wheat, corn, or beans grown with Pesticides/Herbicides?
Wheat: The wheat that we are currently using was not grown with pesticides. There was an herbicide used early on in the growing season, but other than that no pesticides where used.
Beans: Herbicide was used before planting, no insecticides used. All our beans were Nutriclean tested & certified pesticide residue free.
Corn: none – our polenta is 100% organically grown.
What about GMOs?
All of our products are made with non-GMO wheat. All commercially grown wheat in North America is non-GMO. We continue to watch our wheat sources very carefully for any sign of contamination.
Our Floriani Red Flint corn polenta and our beans are heirloom varieties & are 100% GMO-free.
We are currently in the process of becoming non-GMO certified and should be by 2015.
What about hybridization?
Our wheat is the result of many years of traditional, selective breeding, where farmers or scientists breed two plants with desired traits together. The resulting plant is a hybrid, and may display the desired characteristics of its parents. Then that hybrid would be bred with another hybrid with desirable characteristics, and pass its traits along to the next generation. Farmers have used hybridization for thousands of years to produce plants (and animals) that are stronger, more nutritious, resistant to diseases, and so on. See more about the specific varieties we use below.
What wheat varieties do you use?
Variety: Hard Amber Durum
Makes CG: Pasta (Pappardelle, Fusilli, Wheelies, Linguine)
Strain: Fortissimo, 10.34% protein
Characteristics: The hardest of all wheat varieties, known for strength, golden color, and complex flavor.
Variety: Hard Red Winter Wheat
Makes CG: Flour, some pasta (linguine, fusilli)
Strain: Red Wing, 13.61% protein
Characteristics: distinct, full-bodied, nutty flavor, great for breads, sourdough, pizza dough, baking.
I’m gluten intolerant, are there any CG products I can eat?
We are currently working with master baker Craig Ponsford on gluten-free products using some locally produced alternative flours that taste amazing. You can also try our whole-milled polenta integrale, which is 100% corn, or any variety of our tasty heirloom beans.
Is your flour and polenta milled/processed on shared equipment with peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, soy, or sesame?
Our flours and polentas are also milled on the same equipment with rice, barley, rye, and corn.
Is your pasta made on shared equipment with nuts, dairy, egg, soy, or sesame?
Community Grains pasta is made on machines that also make egg pasta.
Do you sell your products online?
Yes! All of our products are available for purchase online through Market Hall Foods.
What is the shelf life of the whole wheat flour package?
Community Grains flour can be stored in a cool, dark place, or a freezer, for up to a year.
Are there any preservatives in it or is it vacuum packed?
There are no preservatives used in Community Grains flour. It is not vacuum packed.
How do you avoid rancidity/shelf stability with the germ included?
Most conventional milling separates the three parts of the grain [germ, bran, endosperm], mills them separately and them puts them (or some parts of them) back together. We work with a highly skilled miller who uses a proprietary process that produces flour containing all parts of the grain without any rancidity. Additionally, this milling method at no time separates the three parts of the grain, which we believe helps our flour to remain shelf-stable.
What flour do you recommend for making fresh pasta?
Our amber durum flour (which is semolina without the bran & germ removed) is the flour classically used for pasta. But we have also had great results with our hard red winter wheat.
How is cooking with whole grain, whole milled flour different than with enriched all-purpose white flour?
For simple baked goods like cookies or brownies, Community Grains flour can be substituted 1:1 with AP flour quite easily with no special consideration.
For breads and sourdoughs, there are a few differences. Whole grain flour absorbs liquid more slowly than AP white flour, because it is not as finely processed. Depending on your recipe, this may require longer resting periods, more proofing, or more water than with AP flour. More techniques, tips, and recipes are available on our website.
Because whole grain flour naturally contains the nutrients and fiber that are taken out of white flour during the milling process, your baking will now include the benefits of a more complete flour.
Do your beans need to be soaked and for how long for best results?
Since our beans are a year old or less, they often do not require long soaking periods. One of our Community Grains team members has had great success with her Dutch oven – simply bringing the beans to a boil, taking them off the heat, and putting them in the oven at 350 F for 2-3 hours. And voila, beans!
However, if you like soaking your beans, 6-8 hours is usually plenty, but overnight works too.
How do I cook these things?!
Don’t worry, beans are super easy! Here are a few techniques:
Warm Soak and Cook:
This method takes considerably less time than the overnight soak; the heat jump starts the otherwise long soak associated with the cold soak, so if you are short on time this method is your best bet.
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Measure the amount of dried beans you’d like to cook into a Dutch oven or oven-safe pot. Cover with more than 2 times the amount of water than beans. The beans should be completely covered with water with at least an inch of water covering them. Cover pot with lid, turn on stove and bring water to a boil. Turn heat off, remove pot from heat and let the pot sit (covered, in warm oven) for 2-3 hours.
2. Check the beans for doneness. If they’re ready, drain and use in your recipe. If they require more cooking, drain, discard the soaking liquid, and rinse the beans well.
3. Rinse the pot out, put the beans back in and cover with 3 times the amount of water than beans. If desired, add bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Lower heat to achieve a simmer (boiling the beans will cause them to break apart) and cook for 45 mins to 2 hours. The cooking length depends on the age and size of the bean so make sure to start testing your beans after 45 minutes. They should be plump and creamy in texture. Now your beans are ready to season with salt and/or use in your next recipe.
Cold Soak and Cook:
This is a nice option for those who like to prep ahead. The long soak allows the beans enough time to absorb as much liquid as possible before cooking.
1. Measure the amount of dried beans you’d like to cook into a pot. Cover with more than 2 times the amount of water than beans. The beans should be completely covered with water with at least an inch of water covering them. Cover with lid and refrigerate overnight or for 6-8 hours.
2. Once the beans are done soaking, drain them, discarding soaking liquid, and rinse the beans well. Move on to step 3 above.