Frugal Food Allergy Living: Make Homemade Gluten-Free Flour

You can see all the posts in the Frugal Food Allergy Living series by clicking on the graphic.

Frugal Food Allergy Living

Money Saving Mom featured my “Reader Tip” back in April.  I encourage you to read that post Make Gluten-free Flour Using Your Coffee Grinder.  Today, I will elaborate on those points a little further.

From the original post on Food Allergies and Budgets:

Pre-packaged gluten-free flours are pricey.  A coffee bean grinder and whole grains/nuts can be a wonderful way to save money and enjoy various “flour” dishes.  I have mentioned this before when I discussed my essential kitchen tools and more is to follow on the specifics of homemade flour in an upcoming post.

If you’ve been following The Willing Cook for some time now, you know that my husband has a wheat allergy, but no other glutens.  His allergy is not so severe that I have to only buy certified gluten-free oats.  Many oats on the market have a chance of being cross-contaminated with wheat (they interchange growing wheat and oats on the same field and use the same processing equipment), so most Celiac sufferers and severe wheat allergies have to use certified gluten-free oats.  (I can tell you that they are not cheap.)

Since oats are a staple in his diet, especially for breakfast, this was the first place we started making our own flour.  I could never come to terms with the high price of the pre-packaged wheat-free flours on the grocery shelf.   So I decided that we should try to make our own flour and thought our small coffee bean grinder would be a great place to start.  The money savings: oats already in the pantry and coffee bean grinder given to me as a birthday gift years ago — win-win budget savings.

Our first attempt was the wonderful recipe for date bars.  I thought oat flour would work great for the crumbly crust and top.  We were not disappointed (and we served them successfully to company too).  We followed this with ground rice flour for our gluten-free fish breading.  Again, we had a winner.

Over the years, we have successfully ground oats, white and brown rice, chickpeas, tapioca pearls, almonds, and even Rice Chex once when I was out of oats.  This experiment has helped us keep a trimmed budget because we don’t buy the pre-packaged gluten-free flours.

Braun Coffee Grinder is the brand that we own and it has worked nicely for us.  The one drawback is that the size is just over a half cup, so it doesn’t make large batches of flour.  (Not that you would want to make large batches for fear of it going rancid.)  There are larger coffee bean grinders on the market, such as Cuisinart DBM-8 and Bodum Bistro, but I do not have experience with them.

The other option, of course, is a grain mill.  I have heard wonderful reports from people who grind their own wheat flour in a grain mill.  They say there is nothing better than fresh baked bread made with freshly ground wheat.   Upon researching the options, I found a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer Grain Mill attachment and the Electric Wondermill Whisper Mill.  These options are much pricier, but would grind larger quantities of flour.

How does it work?

  • You put the grain in your coffee grinder and grind it to the desired consistency.  Repeat as necessary until you reach the required amount.  That is it!

Old-Fashioned Oats in Coffee Grinder

 

Grinding Oats

Freshly Ground Oat Flour

What are the actual savings of grinding your own gluten-free flour versus buying the pre-packaged flours?

I noted a few of the comparisons that I researched for the Money Saving Mom guest post.  Here is a little more detail on where I find the best prices:

  • Old-Fashioned Oats: The cheapest I have found is $1.99 for a 48oz can at Aldi.  Compared to Amazon’s price on oat flour, there is about a 50-80% savings.
  • Almonds: Best price for whole almonds is at Costco or Sam’s Club.  If you can get them for $3.99/lb., that is a good price.  Recently, I have been buying my almond flour at Trader Joe’s as it is less than buying whole almonds and grinding them.  If you don’t have TJs, try grinding them yourself.
  • Rice: I buy the large 25lb. bag of Basmati Rice at Costco.  Aldi used to carry brown rice for the best price, but they no longer do.  I now buy it at Costco.  We eat a lot of rice, so buying the large quantity is a good deal for us.  Over pre-packaged rice flour on Amazon, I save about 50%.
  • I buy whole chickpeas and tapioca pearls at a local Asian grocer.  This saves me about 90% over the pre-packaged ground flours.

So, have I convinced you to grind your own gluten-free flour?  It truly is easy and economical.  If you already grind your own flour (gluten-free or not), do you have any tips to share?

Up next week in the Frugal Food Allergy Living series: Shop Around

 

This post linked up at Monday ManiaSimple Lives Thursday, Homestead Barn Hop, Traditional Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday and Pennywise Platter.

This entry was posted in Allergy Cooking, Budget Tips, Frugal Food Allergy Living. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Frugal Food Allergy Living: Make Homemade Gluten-Free Flour

  1. Pingback: Recipe: Pistachio Cherry Zucchini Muffins (gluten-free) | The Willing Cook

  2. Stephanie says:

    I regularly grind kasha or cream of buckwheat into flour, and have occasionally ground whole milllet or quinoa. Grinding chickpeas is a great idea, but I’d be concerned about whether the coffee grinder could handle it. Glad to hear it works for you.

    • Cook says:

      So far, the coffee grinder has held up pretty well to everything I’ve handed it. I believe the chickpeas that I have are split chickpeas making them a little smaller. I purchased them at an asian grocer. I haven’t tried the buckwheat yet or millet, nor grinding guinoa. I have used quinoa whole or pre-packaged buckwheat. I’ll have to give your ideas a try as well :) Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Recipe: Blueberry Pancakes (gluten-free) | The Willing Cook

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  5. Ryan says:

    Hello, are the portions the same, say, if a recipe calls for a cup of wheat, is that the same as a cup of oat flour? Thank you for the great idea.

    • Cook says:

      Ryan,

      It somewhat depends on the gluten-free flour you’re substituting for the wheat. Oat flour, for example, is a little less dense, so I typically do a bit over 1 cup, closer to 1 1/4 cups oat flour per 1 cup wheat. Now, if I have a gluten-free flour blend (say, millet flour, brown rice flour & tapioca flour), I will do a 1:1 substitute.

      Hope that helps!
      Michelle

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  7. Brooke says:

    Hello! I am new to food allergies and I was wondering, is there a difference in taste with non gluten flours. Which do you perfer? Is it better to mix flours or does it depend on the recipe? Thanks so much, found your blog yesterday on pinterest and I love it!

    • Cook says:

      Brooke,

      Welcome! I am so glad you’ve found The Willing Cook and that you are enjoying it. Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions or make requests.

      Gluten-Free Flour: It’s not so much the taste that’s different, it’s the texture and how the flour performs. Since it doesn’t contain gluten (like regular flour), it needs help to bind (that is, rise, hold together, etc.). From my experience and that of most gluten-free cooks/bakers, gluten-free flours perform the best when used in combination. But, it also depends on what you’re making. As a thickener (for gravies, sauces), you only need one flour, like tapioca or arrowroot flour. For breading, I only use one flour, rice flour. Here is a link to my gluten-free breading. We have come to like this crispy rice flour breading better than normal breading. Now, the trick is when you start baking. It’s a test in patience and perseverance. I haven’t tried every flour out there yet, but I have a few on my “to try” list (like coconut, sorghum, & teff flour). So far, I have found millet flour to be a fantastic gluten-free with which to work. I always combine it with tapioca flour for the best result. For example, pie crust, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin scones all worked fantastic with this flour combination. Watch for a few dessert recipes next week using millet.

      I buy my millet at Whole Foods out of the bulk bin as a whole grain. I then grind it myself. (I grind my own rice and oat flour.) You can read how I make my own gluten-free flour here. I buy some of my other flours at Asian stores, like tapioca, potato, and arrowroot flours. Finally, Trader Joe’s carries almond flour for a good price. If you don’t have any of those stores, Amazon is always a decent choice.

      Phew…did I tire you out with all of that? I hope that was more helpful to you than confusing. You can also check out the book that I recommended on today’s post. Like I said in the post, I’ve only tried 2 of the recipes so far, but it seems to be a good resource and have some promising recipes.

      Any questions? :)
      Michelle

      • Brooke says:

        Thank you so much! It wasn’t confusing at all. I am just getting my feet wet in food allergies. It looks like my 1 year old has a wheat allergy and we are getting her tested soon. She already has a milk allergy. We haven’t made any big changes in our house yet, but it looks like we are about to so I am researching as much as I can. I was just getting confused because it seems like every blog and every recipe uses a different type of flour and different flour mixes. I just didn’t know the reasoning behind it. Thanks again!

        • Cook says:

          The milk allergy is easier to work with, in my opinion (except the issue of doing without cheese). Yes, you will find that every gluten-free baker uses a different combination. Some people just use premade gluten-free mixes but I’ve never been able to bring myself to pay the big price. I cook often enough with gluten-free flours that I don’t want to shell out that much money that often. But, to each his own. Let me know if you need any other questions as you begin this journey.

          • Brooke says:

            Hopefully this will be my last question for the day, but have you ever tried the GAPS diet?

            • Cook says:

              I haven’t tried the GAPS diet, but know it’s really popular. I’ve focused so much on removing the allergens from our home that embarking on something else just as drastic seems overwhelming to me, although they are related. I figure the response I would get from my husband is “don’t we cut out enough already.” Who knows? Maybe I’ll embark on it one of these days.

              Have you tried it?

              • Brooke says:

                I could definitely see where that would be a lot from where you are! Since this is all new to me I am just thinking about trying it right off the bat. Either way I am going to have to change stuff around here and this way it would be all at once. I think I might do a “light” version of it because my daughter is only 11 months old and she will most likely be resistant. But I figure it’s worth a shot, right?

  8. Wow, thanks for this! I’ve read about making your own flour with a mill, but that was too much of an investment for me at the moment; a coffee grinder is the perfect solution! I also like that it will cut down the amount of flours I will need to store too, as gluten-free cooking requires many kinds instead of just one.
    How did you husband find out he was allergic to just wheat gluten? I am following a gluten free diet, and have figured out that I have issues with wheat, but do not yet know if it is just wheat, wheat gluten or all gluten that I have issues with. I’d like to get tested but know that it is a controversial subject matter.
    Thanks for all the great info!

    • Cook says:

      I’ve looked into flour mills and hope to get one eventually. They are pricey though, so in the meantime the coffee grinder has been wonderful.

      My husband had a number of allergies as a child and grew out of them somewhat. As an adult, he lived with chronic ear infections for ears which no antibiotics or steroids could heal. He finally decided to get an allergy panel done and it produced a number of positive results. He came back negative for all other glutens, but there is often a high risk of cross contamination with wheat. He watches it moderately, but not strictly. Celiacs must watch it very close.

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  10. elaine says:

    today is my first time at your site so i’m not certain when you posted about using the coffee grinder for the flours – or the other suggestions. anyway, just a note that vita-mix’s have a extra set you can order for the blenders that are specially ment for grinding that are fantastic

    • Cook says:

      I’d love to have a vita-mix, but it’s pricey. The coffee bean grinder is a fraction of the price and does a good job, especially for small jobs. I’m always looking for a good deal on a vitamix though.

  11. Pingback: Slow Cooker Molten Chocolate Lava Cake (gluten, dairy, & egg-free) | Coupon Code Today

  12. Ruth says:

    We grind nearly all of our own gluten free flour, except for potato starch, xanthan/guar gums, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and potato flour.

    We purchased a Vitamix with the dry grains container and that was a terrific investment! It was a bit of cash up front, but our monthly food bill is much more easy to manage now.

    We bake our own cornbread, using cornmeal that I ground in the Vitamix. (I grind it from popcorn kernels)

    Our favorite bread recipe is made from mostly teff flour. We buy bulk bags of whole teff grain and grind it. I also grind sorghum, soy flour, rice flour, chickpea flour, millet flour, etc.

    It has been a wonderful experience! It has broadened the amount of whole grains in our diet and reduced our dependence upon specialty flours which are typically several times the price of whole grains.

    • Cook says:

      Ruth,

      That’s fantastic! I’d love to be able to buy more bulk whole grains. I’ve had my eye on a vitamix for a few years, but I haven’t convinced my husband yet that I need one. I look on craigslist for one occasionally, but no smart person would get rid of it :)

      Michelle

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  14. Just got a Vita Mix for my birthday through Costco, pricey but hey I cook everything from scratch and I want to start making nut cheeses and grinding special flours like tapioca, etc. It is now washed and ready for my toasted sesame seeds for making tahini.
    Betsy Shipley

    • Cook says:

      I’m a tad bit envious of your birthday gift! You’ll have to let me know how your nut cheeses turn out. I’m always curious but have not yet made the leap.

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  19. Carole says:

    This is probably a stupid question, but since you’re supposed to rinse rice before you cook it, do you need to rinse it before you grind it? You wouldn’t want to grind wet rice, so I’m guessing not.

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