Since the weather has been crummy for the past few days, I didn’t have a chance to use my Sun Oven. So, instead I decided to try something that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the preparedness community–and probably for good reason–I tried to make flour from rice in order to make a loaf of bread. As you might tell from the picture (left) it didn’t work out so well; this is normally the story of my life the first time I try something new.
Originally, I tried to follow these instructions, An Illustrated Guide to Making Rice Flour. Since the instructions included some pretty pictures, I assumed I could follow them. Strangely, the instructions said I should soak the rice, dry it off to be damp (not wet), grind it, and then heat the rice flour to evaporate any water. Unfortunately, that didn’t work AT ALL! After soaking the rice and attempting to dry it, I tried an electric grinder and the rice simply wasn’t being fed properly at all. I then tried my Back to Basics Hand Grain Mill and I got about a 1/4 teaspoon before it wouldn’t grind any rice whatsoever either. I assumed I either had the rice still too wet or I shouldn’t have followed these instructions in the first place.
So, I decided to wing it and do what felt right and I ground dry rice instead. That worked out quite a bit better and more how I expected. I ended up doing two passes through the hand grinder and got about two cups of flour from 1.5 cups of dry rice, which is equivalent to grinding wheat.
If you look at the picture to the right–click to enlarge–you can see the differences in what flour looks like (left clump) versus the first pass with rice (right clump). I’ve also got a second pass of rice (top clump) and a first pass of wheat (bottom clump) for comparison purposes shown too. It seems that the rice, even at second pass, is a bit more like salt than flour. I expected this a bit because even wheat isn’t a whole like like flour after a pass or two in my hand grinder.
Regardless, the wheat seems to work out ok when used for bread. Let’s see how the rice turned out…
Here (left) you can see what the rice looks like when used as a bread mix. To me, it looks an awful lot like mashed potatoes and felt very gritty, as if I were using WAY TOO much salt. FYI, the ingredients were 2 cups flour, 1.5 tsp yeast, 1.5 tsp salt, 1 cup lukewarm water. It’s a very basic recipe that I’ve used in the past and works ok.
As I mixed it the dough didn’t have that sticky feeling I’m accustomed to. In fact, it wanted to fall apart more than stay together. Regardless, I was committed so I covered the bowl and let sit for two hours. After checking the dough it was obvious it didn’t rise and I wasn’t expected miracles but I decided to bake it anyway. In the oven it went.
30 minutes later (at 450 degrees) I took it out and was still disappointed. The taste test didn’t do anything for me either but a few people said it didn’t taste too bad. The “bread” was cooked but tasted weird to me… and it obviously did not rise. Perhaps the yeast was bad (I didn’t test it and now I’m thinking that was my problem) or maybe the rice wasn’t ground enough, or maybe it’s because I used rice as flour instead of wheat. I don’t know what the problem was exactly, but I’m fairly positive I won’t be trying that again any time soon. I’ll stick with what I know.
[EDIT: Turns out it WAS the rice, according to Bellen's comment below: "Rice does not have gluten, the protein found in wheat, that gives the dough that stretchy quality and allows the air bubbles to form and raise the loaf." Thank you for clarifying that.]
Even though the bread didn’t turn out well, I had a good bonding/teaching moment with my kids. That was good enough for me…