Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week 5

From Spring 11 week 5


The day was spent threshing wheat by hand, clearing garden beds while dodging hail, and making crispy whole wheat pretzels.

We began the pretzel making process by lashing the wheat stalks with cut sections of garden house. We scooped the flowers, seeds, and stems into bowls, then broke up into pairs to "winnow" or sift out all but the wheat seeds.

From Spring 11 week 5

We dropped the wheat seeds and chaff from one bowl held above another while a partner fanned it to blow away the loose chaff.

When the seeds were collected we ground them into fresh whole wheat flour and added yeast, flour, sugar, salt, and luke-warm water.

Then all hands worked in unison to knead the dough; smashing and rolling the light brown putty in order to stretch wheat glutens and expand it with air.

The dough was rolled into a lump, placed under a damp cloth to keep its moisture, and left in a warm place to rise for an hour.

While the dough grew, we learned about the nutritional differences between whole grain products and processed grain products.

Industrial milled and processed grains go through about 21 steps of production to make flour, during which the grain is stripped of all its beneficial vitamins, minerals and fiber until only starch remains. Then, after all that work and energy, nutritional value is to be added or "enriched" back into the grain with artificial chemicals. Why take out the nutrients in the first place?

From Spring 11 week 5

Whole grains, in contrast, are ground up with all their vitamins, minerals, fiber, oils, and starch. None of the grain's nutritional content is discarded as waste in the process.


After the instruction, we set to work in the garden. We skimmed the cover crops from the topsoil of two garden beds.

From Spring 11 week 5

With garden forks, we loosened the soil and spread compost. Then we placed rows of radish and pea seeds, and carefully covered them with a loose layer of soil.


After planting we finished making the pretzels.

From Spring 11 week 5

The risen dough was distributed between the group and rolled into pretzel shapes. The doughy bits were then dropped into boiling water with baking soda before placed into our hot cob oven.

Then we poured salt and cinnamon on top, and bit into the warm crunchy pretzels.

From Spring 11 week 5

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