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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Grinding brown rice into flour with a coffee mill or blender

home-ground brown rice flour, using my coffee mill

Twenty-five years ago, when my doctor first suggested an elimination diet, you couldn't buy rice flour in a regular grocery store, let alone all the other varieties of non-glutinous grains. You had to go to a specialty health food store to buy these grains, as well as non-dairy milks. And even so, rice flour was packaged in small bags, and very expensive, compared to wheat flour. Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk and hazel milk were non-existent in the regular grocery store, with the exception of soy-based infant formula.

What was I to do? Well, I went to the local library and found the one and only book about food allergies and intolerances. I poured through the book as quickly as I could. The first half of the book outlined elimination diets, most common allergens, and how to reintroduce foods back into my diet. The second half was what became very valuable to me. It covered how to make your own nut milks and rice flour, in your own kitchen, using basic home-kitchen equipment.

I made my own almond milk and rice flour, using my blender. And this made satisfactory milk and flour. Without an actual grain mill, it's hard to get flour to a fine grind. So my rice flour did have a bit of graininess to it, but really, after what I'd been through for many months of tummy troubles, I was just so glad to be able to eat anything and feel okay.

I have since discovered that I can use my coffee grinder, combined with a sifter, to grind brown rice and millet into flour. It's a little quicker, and maybe slightly less grainy, than the blender. Here's how I make brown rice flour at home. (You can still just use a blender for grinding the rice, if you don't have a coffee grinder.)

In the coffee mill, I grind about 2 tablespoons of brown rice at a time. 

After a minute of running the grinder, I have a product that looks like the above photo. I pour this coarse flour into a bowl as I go, and continue until I have about a cup of flour.

I, then, pass all of the coarse flour through a sifter. The particles that don't go through the sifter get reground in the coffee mill, until all material passes through the fine holes of the sifter. 

What I am left with is an ever-so-slightly grainy, brown rice flour. For texture's sake, I like to combine home-ground rice flour with a commercial millet flour in recipes. This gives me a fairly decent flour blend for home-style muffins, pancakes and cookies. And I save about $1.50 per pound on the rice flour by grinding it myself. If I am wanting a baked product with a less grainy texture (even I get picky at times), then I just splurge and buy the brown rice flour at the bulk bin, health food store.

Initially, I really disliked xanthan gum. I felt it left an off taste and gummy texture to the finished product. Then I discovered that I was using much more than I needed. I began using less than recipes often called for, and still had good results. For quick breads, my ratio of xanthan gum to flour is 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum to 1 cup of non-glutinous flour.

I've streamlined my GF baking process a bit, by mixing a batch of flours and gum, and storing in a container ready for baking.

My current flour "recipe" is 1 cup of brown rice flour, 1 cup of millet flour, 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum. I blend this all together with a whisk to insure the gum is well-distributed. I use this, measure for measure, in quick bread recipes. 

If you are serious about a GF, or other food allergy, diet, you should know what xanthan gum is and from what it's derived.Xanthan gum is a fermented product combining a specific bacteria most often with a corn-based product. The bacteria can also be combined with a wheat, dairy or soy product. It's advisable to find out the source of the xanthan gum before using, in case it happens to be on your list of foods to avoid. If you're buying a prepackaged bag of xanthan gum, that info should be on the label. If you are purchasing from a bulk bin, the shop should be able to find out the source for you. If you have a sensitivity to corn, or the source for your xanthan gum is one of the foods on your sensitivity list, then guar gum may be a better binding agent for your GF baking. Guar gum comes from a legume seed. It's often less expensive than xanthan gum, and is used in the same proportions as xanthan gum.

I currently am using xanthan gum as, over the course of 7 or 8 years, I've never had a problem with it, and I happened to still have some in the cupboard for this go round with an elimination diet. I'll give the guar gum a try when I run out of the xanthan gum. Aside from individual sensitivities to these products, some people experience digestive upsets, especially when consumed in large quantities. All the more reason for me to want to use as little as possible in baking. When looking over most GF recipes, I'd say that I use about half the amount of xanthan gum than is called for. And so far, my baked goods, pancakes and waffles all turn out well.

I still bake all the regular breads and desserts for our family. But I also bake up a small stash of things that I can eat, and keep most of them in the freezer. This week I've made myself some banana muffins, biscuits and brownies. Banana breads/muffins do particularly well with gluten-free baking, as the fruit gives moisture which binds the dry ingredients together. And I really like my brownie bites -- individual, dark chocolate brownies, baked in a mini muffin tin. I'll post my recipe for GF Brownie Bites tomorrow. Right now, I've got to run and get my daughters from school.

This is a huge week in the life of our family. It's not just the end of the school year for us. But my 2 babies graduate from high school on Friday night. Saturday, they have their last 2 performances with their high school dance groups. And Sunday, we're driving north to visit my kids' 91 year old grandpa, for Father's Day.

I have mixed feelings about my daughters growing up. On the one hand, I'm excited for them, for new opportunities in their futures. But also, this is the end of a phase of my life. I won't be driving any of my kids to and from school any more. I'll miss our daily conversations. Car time means I have a captive audience. We've discussed fashion, international conflicts, boys, elections, walks with God, menu planning, career planning, allowance (and how to earn more, always a popular subject), friendships, family joys and sorrows, hobbies, music, art, dance and much more. I'm not sure what the future holds for me. But I know that it's just around the corner.

Till next time, have a great day!


  1. There seems to be something wrong with my copy that was sent in my email. Just a heads-up.

    1. Hi Jennilee,
      Ooops! Sorry about that. I'll get it fixed.
      Thanks for letting me know.

  2. You've forgotten to edit your piece here. It's a little confusing.

    1. Hi Lech,
      We all have our days. I'm just a tad on the busy side this week, I'm afraid. I hope this copy makes more sense. Are you gluten free? Which flours do you prefer?

    2. Ahh, much better.
      Yes, I've been GF for 15 years. I use teff, rice, and millet flours. I prefer the teff for breads, as it has a slightly sweet and malty flavor. Just a preference. Have you tried teff yet?
      (thanks for fixing the copy so quickly. And we all understand busy schedules.)

    3. Lech,
      I haven't tried teff yet. I saw it at the natural foods market last week, and will give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Lili,
    Such a knowledgeable woman you are! You have taken such time and consideration when planning meals, keeping yourself and your family healthy-and also budgeting. My hats off to you!
    I know how you feel about all of this change-you know I still have struggles with the children all grown up and gone. Somedays I love it and some days it hurts. I suspect this is the way it is for us Mothers. I remember my Mom feeling this way too.
    Enjoy your weekend and just focus on the now-looking ahead too far can be a bit overwhelming!
    Sweet Hugs-

    1. Hi Jemma,
      Thank you.
      I just can't believe how swiftly the days have flown. I remember, so vividly, anticipating the birth of our oldest, our son. And now, our babies are grown, too. This is life. When I begin to feel sad over my children no longer young, I also feel great excitement for them for the next phases in their lives.
      Thanks for your kinds words.

  4. My SIL was dx with Celiac Sprue about 1.5 years ago. She uses rice flour. I'll pass this on to her. I LOVE your blog, btw. I found you through Frugal Girl in May and have been hooked since!

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      I'm sorry to hear about your sister-in-law's diagnosis. I can imagine how difficult that is for her. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  5. So you're dealing with eliminating foods from your diet at the same time you are dealing with your girls moving to a new phase of life? Can you spell s-t-r-e-s-s??? Wow. Do something nice for yourself!

    1. Hi Kris,
      I'm livin' in the Land o' Stress these days. But things will calm down soon, and I can find whatever normal is (I think I've forgotten what normal feels like!!). Is school out for your kids already? Some places finished up a few weeks ago. Summer's about here!

    2. We've been out of school for about a week now. Swimming lessons is our big activity right now (my son's baseball season is finishing up but my daughter's 4H season is ramping up!).

    3. Sounds like a fun summer ahead of you and your family, Kris!

  6. Great info! I never thought to grind my own rice flour. Also nice to have an alternative to xanthan gum because of my corn allergy.

    Your final paragraph brought tears to my eyes. I'll be there in five years and it doesn't seem so far away.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      So you probably read labels at the grocery store. I can't believe how many regular products contain xanthan gum. Since my first encounters with food allergies/intolerances, 25 years ago, the amount of additives in foods has sky-rocketed. Guar gum is interchangeable in recipes with xanthan gum. It's less expensive, but sometimes a bit harder to find in stores.

      Five years will fly by. I am trying to focus on the excitement my daughters feel for their futures. Otherwise I find myself choked up constantly.

  7. I have no food intolerances but I still found this interesting! It sure is heart-rending when kids grow up - I hope you congratulate yourself for bringing them this far!

    1. Hi anexacting,
      I sometimes can't believe that the time has come for all my kids to be adults and take care of themselves. I know they sometimes get a bit annoyed when I'm offering my very helpful advice (tongue-in-cheek), and they already know what to do. It's a habit, I guess. Plus I keep forgetting that they are really old enough to tackle things themselves. When Link moved away, you probably felt a piece of your heart move with him.


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