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Making Buckwheat Flour from Tartary or Japanese Buckwheat

Scott Hucker

The 'hulls' on buckwheat often scare people away from this easily grown 'grain'.  Instead of removing the hulls to make buckwheat groats, we can easily make flour to use in pancakes.  I will describe how we prepare flour with equipment we have, and give suggestion for alternative methods.  
A device for home scale buckwheat hull removal is one of those 'things' that everybody wants but nobody has the plans to build (yet).  If you could perform this task, then, you'd have groats, like this:Groats are what buckwheat is called after dehulling
In this case, I am wanting to make flour. 
We will start with clean Tartary Buckwheat. This seed you could plant... or eat... same thing. There's over 18,000 seeds per pound. 
Clean Tartary or Japanese Buckwheat for making flour
The threshing process described in our 2020 training material is summarized as threshing, coarse screening to remove the twigs, winnowing with a box fan to remove the leaves and dry bits, screening to let the sand fall through.  Sand and stones are hard on the tools (and teeth).
My first tool to test was our Flaker Mill from Grainmaker.  Another name is rolling mill. The gap between two steel rollers is adjustable. Roller mills are used to crack grain for animal feed as well as break barley malt for brewing.  Ours is still hand cranked. I found that setting #4 was just enough to 'crack' the seeds in the first pass. I want to say I spent about a minute to do a pint of grains. It took a lot of arm torque to crack them, way more than when I roll my oatmeal, so, I drizzled the grain into the top to match my strength.
Flaker Mill from Grainmaker
This first pass thru the mill at #4 looks like:
First pass of the buckwheat thru the rolling mill
I closed the gap to make additional passes at #5, then 6, 7 and finally a couple of passes at #8. The effort to crank was much less than that first 'cracking' pass.
Flour being broken out of the buckwheat kernels
I plan to test our flour mill as well.  If you can open the gap between the plates to be at last half the diameter of the kernels, that would be best.  We do not want to 'grind' the whole buckwheat because we don't want to turn the bitter outer hull into 'dust'.
Another commonly available alternative would be a big mortar and pestle. The goal is to crack and break open the grain, so, experiment to find the right out amount of force.
I do not use a blender because I want to avoid turning the dark hulls into dust that becomes mixed with the flour. 
Then, with 3 different seed cleaning screens in a stack, I poured the mixture onto the top (coarsest):
Pouring the rolled and broken buckwheat onto the screen
Jiggled it starts the separation process. Falling through the first and second screens was clumps of white buckwheat meal that I broke up for another trip thru the screens. 
Stack of screens for splitting the flour from the hulls
Dropping out of the finest bottom screen was the desired flour.
Initial buckwheat flour created by sifting out the hulls (dehulling)
This is what dropped out the bottom of the screens. If I wanted a very fine flour, perhaps for noodles, I'd run this through my flour mill to turn the chunks into powder.  As it is will make a nice buttermilk pancake.
Trapped on the top were the nearly empty hulls.
Empty buckwheat hulls are left on the top screen
I read they can be used to fill pillows, especially for people allergic to feathers.
I'm using our Tartary Buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) which is not usually used for flour. Tartary buckwheat is similar to common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) but is more frost tolerant. Its seeds are slightly smaller and contain more of the anti-inflammatory compound rutin. Which is why I wanted to start by "rolling" to avoid 'grinding' the hulls into dust. Ok, I'm assuming the hulls are the bitter part... need to test that.
If you don't have a stack of seed cleaning screens, or, screen for drying seeds, a common wire mesh colander like:
wire mesh colander
should do the trick.
I could use a finer screen to clean up the flour, but, we're going to try it this way in the morning as we liked the coarser home made corn meal than we used finely ground store bought Perhaps the brown bits remaining are extra healthy. 
Well now that you have flour, click on over to our favorite recipe for buckwheat pancakes or waffles or make this delightful buckwheat flour chocolate cake.

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