Setting up our own pita oven was sooooo painful. But we knew we could serve better tasting pita than what we were buying from Brooklyn and NJ.
Why did we think we could do a better job? I’m starting to understand flavor as nutrition. And we can make more flavorful bread by using more nutritious ingredients. We can buy better flour than a 3rd party baker will buy.
For the past 3 years we have been baking with New England grown and milled wheat. We might be the largest user of New England wheat in Boston. Let’s change that. What does this mean?
#1 It means your $ is going to regional farmers. Your $ support organic farming, support new acres that were not previously farmed, help farmers improve our soil. It’s what we should be doing.
#2 You get to eat parts of wheat you don’t eat anywhere else. The fresh wheat we use isn’t processed. Almost 100% of the wheat in the US has been broken down. The Endosperm (think egg white) removed from the Bran (think egg shell) and Germ (think yolk). Why? Because after processing flour this way you have refined starch and protein. This flour is OK after 1-2 years of storage. Our fresh flour starts losing flavor as soon as it is ground. Like coffee beans. Fresh wheat tastes AMAZING. And it’s much more nutritious. Flavor is nutrition?
Currently 20% of the wheat Clover uses is grown in New England and fresh ground. The rest of the wheat we use is from King Arthur Flour, likely grown in the midwest, and milled in upstate NY. We bake 5,000 or so pita a night. That’s a lot of flour. But in the big picture it is a drop in the bucket.
I want the local flour business to explode. I want our use to be dwarfed by others. We’re taking a major step in local grain advocacy next week with a roundtable conversation where we’re bringing together some of our favorite chefs, bakers, millers, and growers. I’m hoping we’re at a turning point. This could change farming in New England if we pull it off.