Where do I buy heritage flour in the UK?

Where do I buy heritage flour in the UK?

Posted on 17. Sep, 2012 by in Bread and conversation

Up in Northumberland where the sky is big and the air is fresh, there is a business run by Andrew and Sybille Wilkinson that is dedicated to growing, milling, and transforming heritage grain into wonderful flour and delicious food.  The business is called Gilchesters Organics and a walk across the farm's beautiful fields takes you on a journey that is at least 50,000 years old.

Where do I buy pizza and ciabatta flour

Gilchesters organic stoneground pizza and ciabatta flour ready for shipping

The first thing that strikes you as you walk through the fields is just how tall the grain is.  At the end of the summer, when fields of intensively farmed corn (wheat) is about thigh high, Gilchester's corn is nearly shoulder high on me, and I am 165 cm (5 feet 6 inches) tall.  This is not a detail.  Andrew explains, "The root system of the corn is twice as deep as the stalk is high.  The deeper the roots, the more minerals the corn pulls from the earth and the more nutritious it is.  It's one of the many reasons we do not need to use all sorts of chemical fertilizers to get the crops to grow - the plant does the work for us."

Baking with heritage flour

Large sacks of Gilchesters organic flour at the mill waiting to be bagged for sale

Carrying on through the fields, we move from wheat to spelt which is taller, yellower, and heavier looking than then wheat; from spelt to emmer which is clearly identifiable by its eyebrows (each grain has a long straw sprouting out of it); and then from emmer to einkorn - tiny little heads of grain floating about on long stalks like a herd of dancing bees - with long eyebrows!  For a photo of spelt, emmer, and einkorn grains next to each other, please click here.

Carrying on from 50 000 years of history to the mill and you are confronted by the very latest stone milling equipment.  Cleaning machines gently take a huge amout of mud, sand, grass, pebbles, straw and grit from the corn - a step, Andrew informs me, that is not carried out in all of the smaller mills. (eek).  The wheat is then milled into flour in a range that includes strong whole meal (whole wheat), semolina, white wheat, and very finely milled pizza/ciabatta wheat flour.  The spelt (the only one of the covered grains being milled at the moment) is gently stripped of its tough membranes (which protect them from everything from mold to pollution) before it is milled and bagged.

Milling heritage flour

The stone mill at Gilchesters

Stone milling flour

The sifter at GIlchesters that enables them to mill different kinds of flour

The buildings for the equipment have just been purpose built and have the benefit of being right on the farm so that transportation is kept to a bare minimum before the products are shipped to shops, bakeries, and the small company that makes the range of biscuits that bear the Gilchesters name.

Now, about that flour.....

I have waxed lyrical about Gilchesters flour before.  The wheat is full of flavour and is a great performer - strong and stretchy, giving a great rise and a wonderful strong flavour.  The spelt is sensational - sweet and mild flavoured, you would swear there was sugar or honey in the dough but no, there is not (at least not when I make it).  Further, whereas most spelt flour requires less water than wheat flour (reducing the overall yeild of the flour), the Gilchester's spelt is easily as absorbent as its wheat and is far more absorbent than a lot of wheat with which I have baked.  Because I am not an industrial baker, absorbency rate is not that important to me, but I do understand that if you are baking at scale it becomes critical.  If that is the case, this is the spelt for you.  Finally, the flour is incredibly strong and can rise into a beautifully high shape with a gorgeous, open crumb.

Baking with spelt flour

The beautiful crumb of a 100% whole spelt loaf with Gilchesters spelt flour

Readily available in the north of England, it is not as easy to find Gilchesters in the south.  You can find it at Planet Organic or order it online and if you want to help Gilchesters expand their business in the south (and make it easier for you to pick up some bags in a frenzy of instant gratification) you could ask your local whole food store or delicatessen to start stocking it.  You will not be disappointed.

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12 Responses to “Where do I buy heritage flour in the UK?”

  1. Theo Moolman

    16. May, 2013

    Dear Sir / Madam

    Is there any shop in London that you supply regularly with heritage wheat flower?

    Kind regards

    Theo Moolman

  2. Darrold

    26. Sep, 2014

    - HERITAGE WHEAT AND FLOUR FOR SALE- Certified Organic

    Much better baking qualities then einkorn, spelt, and emmer.

    Many people with gluten sensitivity can eat flour milled from heritage wheat.

    2000 pound totes $1600.00
    F.O.B. Milbank SD. USA

    We have organic certified red fife (Triticum aestivum) wheat for sale.
    Grown on certified organic farm in Cold Spring, MN
    Falling number 439 Certificate of analysis available on request.

    We also have heritage flour made from Red Fife heritage wheat.
    Whole wheat and bolted (90% of the bran removed) excellent for
    Bread making and noodles. Available in 50# bags and 2000# totes
    Makes excellent breads and pasta.

  3. Lesley Chrysanthou

    31. Jul, 2015

    Hi. Can I buy this flour in London or order from the UK? I am gluten intolerant and sick of crispbreads!! Lesley

  4. virtuousbread

    31. Jul, 2015

    Dear Lesley, you can get it in London and order it by post. Let me put you in touch (through e mail) to the company and they will be happy to help.

  5. Melanie Henderson

    01. Sep, 2015

    I am gluten intolerant and have just watched Countryfile where it covered the Heritage wheat. I live in Hertfordshire, where can I buy it from please .

  6. virtuousbread

    01. Sep, 2015

    Hi Melanie

    For me, there is only one choice (there are various, but this is the best) it is Gilchesters. I will forward your mail to Billie and get her to contact you as re getting some!

  7. Wendy

    09. Jan, 2016

    Hello, I live in East Sussex, is there any outlet where I can buy heritage bread flour? Or any online sites that sell it? I'm making my own bread at the moment as I'm intolerant to commercial bread. Using Doves Farm at the moment, but really would like to find a real old fashioned flour. Thank you. Wendy.

  8. virtuousbread

    09. Jan, 2016

    Hi there, how are you! Thank you for writing. The best resource is the TCMG interactive map! You can see it here to find the closest mill to you:

    http://tcmg.org.uk/

    They do not all mill a complete range of flour - some only do whole meal wheat flour, for example. But you can contact them and visit them and see what they do and how they do it!

  9. Wendy

    10. Jan, 2016

    Hello, thank you so much for this information. I'll definitely see what they've got. Thanks again.
    Wendy

  10. Carol Reynolds

    09. Mar, 2016

    Hoping that you can help-my daughter has developed a gluten intolerance due to a parasite. She can use Einkorn flour however to bake bread. I have purchased a book solely with einkorn recipes however the flour they use seems to be multi purpose Einkorn as opposed to the wholemeal that we buy locally-I cannot seem to find if multi purpose einkorn is available in the UK-as from the pictures it also appears white in colour I am wondering whether it's dietary properties are the same as the wholemeal..grateful of any help

  11. virtuousbread

    10. Mar, 2016

    Hi! I have forwarded the message to Gilchesters and I know they will be in touch.

  12. David Kojo

    23. Feb, 2017

    Dear Sir/Madam

    We are willing and ready to purchase Wheat flour in a bulk quantity, so
    please we request you send us your product offer and price and please
    contact me davinsontradingcompany@gmail.com

    Thanks

    Mr David Kojo

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