Can't Find Flour at the Store? Buy Some from These Smaller Mills
Across the country, flour has gotten scarce. The social distancing strictures put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus have meant that more people are cooking at home than usual, and baking their own bread, too. In the month of May, King Arthur Flour sent out almost 6.6 million bags, double what they usually sell in their usual high season in the fall. At my own local grocery store, the baking aisle has been picked clean, save for a few sad-looking bags of white chocolate chips. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no flour in the country—there’s plenty! You just have to know where to look.
I’ve taken this mess as an opportunity to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, which is put in a big order at some of the small-scale mills that are making delicious and interesting flours from fresh grains. As our resident baking guru Paige Grandjean has written before, baking with freshly milled flours requires some subtle adjustments, particularly if you’re making bread, but the flavor payoff makes it well worth it. Like wine, single-origin flour has a terroir, and no batch is exactly the same. Even if you don’t care about any of that, it’s a nice way to support small business that are hurting right now, and a way to circumnavigate the frustration of attempting and failing to secure a grocery delivery slot, or taking all the necessary precautions to visit the supermarket only to not find what you need.
As a rule, freshly milled flours are more expensive than their supermarket counterparts, and this is a time of extreme financial precarity for so many people, so if this is out of reach for you right now, another good option is to check local bakeries and restaurants, where many folks have started selling their kitchen supplies as groceries, often at a steep discount. But if you can, here are some excellent small mills where you can nab great flour, and other materials for your quarantine baking.
This South Carolina company specializes in heritage grains. Aside from several kinds of stone-milled flours, they also offer excellent grits, the best cornmeal I’ve ever had in my life, incredible polenta, and heirloom Carolina Gold rice revived from near-extinction.
A favorite of Food & Wine Senior Editor Kat Kinsman, this mill also has a selection of cornmeal, polenta, and hush puppy mix, as well as pastry flour, bread flour, and plain old all-purpose white flour.
This New Orleans bakery is where Grandjean spent time learning about freshly milled flour, and now they’re shipping some of their fine work around the country. You can also pick up their dried pasta, another too-hot-for-grocery-shelves pantry item, while you’re at it.
This Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Mill has an array of flours in various amounts, including bolted rye flour, cornmeal, and germ-in wheat pasta.
This family-own operation has been in business since 1750, and offers all kinds of flour, including white all purpose and bread flour, as well as baking mixes, corn, and grits.
From a fifth-generation miller team in Illinois, Janie’s Mill has every variety of flour in stock, including flours made from ancient grains like Einkorn.
This Texas mill is a favorite of our resident baking expert Paige Grandjean, and has flours milled from a variety of grains. They also sort their flours by what you want to make with them, like biscuits or baguettes, a helpful way of looking at artisan grain flour if it’s unfamiliar terrain.
Not only does Hayden make gorgeous flours, including ones for pizza and pasta, they also make really tasty gourmet crackers. The Arizona-based mill is also offering free shipping on orders over $75.
This North Carolina mill is all organic, and ships flour in two pounds packages and in larger, bulk amounts if you’re getting really into making bread.