Bluebird Grain Farms produces the most beautiful and delicious flours I have ever used. So when we drove across the rainy autumn mountain pass a couple weeks ago to spend a few days in Winthrop and the Methow Valley, visiting the farm was a highlight for me.
We followed a winding dirt road miles out of town to find the farm, tucked into the hills and so picturesque, even on this foggy day with slush falling from the sky. It’s truly a plow-to-package operation at Bluebird, where organic grains are sown, grown, harvested, cured, milled and sold right there on the 300 acre farm.
Brooke Lucy owns the farm with her husband, and walked over from their house on the property to show us around, starting with the shelves of fresh-milled grains offered for sale. The signature grain at Bluebird is emmer farro, a nourishing, super-tasty ancient wheat, prized by modern artisinal bakers, and available whole-grain or fresh-milled.
The first time I used this flour to make our favorite sandwich bread, we all stood around saying, “What is that wonderful fragrance?” Even in a house used to the glorious smell of baking bread, there was something about this grain that was exceptional, and the bread wasn’t out of the oven, yet! Come eating-time, you’ll find this wheat lends a complexity and flavor that you can’t find in off-the-shelf flours, even the usual organic flours. Fresh-milling in small batches is one of the secrets–these flours are meant to be used within about 40 days of purchase.
One of the many things that makes Bluebird Grains unique is their curing and storing process. Until very recently in the long human-wheat history, grain was stored in wood granaries where, no matter how tightly constructed, some air flow and breathability allowed the grain to cure without becoming damp or moldy. In today’s giant air-tight metal granaries, where huge amounts of grain are stored for long periods, the moisture in the grain is contained, and so fumigants are required to treat the wheat. Some speculate that the recent proliferation of gluten sensitivities may for some sufferers have to do with these toxic fumigants, rather than wheat itself. At Bluebird, the small granaries are made of wood, and fumigants are unnecessary–the flours are as pure and healthful as you can get.
In addition to the emmer farro, Bluebird’s whole line of products are extra-wonderful. I love their all-purpose hard white wheat flour, and while we were at the farm, we picked up some organic farro pasta flour, which includes a simple recipe created specially for this product. Other offerings include cereals, pancake mixes, a variety of flours milled-to-order–and who could resist this time of year?–the most beautiful gift baskets. You can find Bluebird Grains at in Washington and Oregon natural groceries (their website has a list of retail locations), or you can order from their online store. For the committed baker, there is even a Bluebird Grain Monthly CSA.
Thanks to Brooke for the hospitality at Bluebird Grain Farms. And happy holiday baking to all!