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Hulling Buckwheat or Confectionery Sunflower Seeds At Home?

 
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I'm going to be growing both Japanese buckwheat and confectionery sunflowers again this season. Last year was experimentation that had good results: mostly in chicken food. But this year I'm hoping to scale up to human food. The trick with these plants is how to hull them?

Doing this activity at home is something a lot of sources SAY can be done easily, but my experiences lead me to suspect those sources haven't actually tried their own advice. The only actual accounts I can track down of individuals trying this (all two of them) both report failure. This is a good test case:
http://www.bilagaana.com/dehuller/Sunflower%20Dehuller.html

In which he actually tested the modified Corona mill "everyone" says works:
http://www.savingourseeds.org/pdf/grain_dehuller.pdf

He says the results are a mess (with sunflower). Further he reports no difference in performance between a stock Corona and a modified Corona. Will Bonsall also tried this experiment and had the same results. The only thing he found to work for sunflower seeds was to use a friend's large, mechanical rice hulling machine. I don't have access to one of those.

So to date I can find no reports of anyone successfully hulling confectionery sunflower seeds at home...

So on to buckwheat: I would like to make hull-less buckwheat flower as well as groats like you can buy at the store. Bonsall reports "acceptable" results in using the Corona to make buckwheat flour, but he estimates 40%-60% of his flour is actually hull material. That is not to my liking at all. I have a Victoria mill (unmodified), as opposed to a Corona, and cannot gap it wide enough to avoid grinding up a significant portion of buckwheat hull (to say nothing of crushing the kernel, which means no groats). I'm going to try some modifications (like replacing the static metal plate with a rubber disk) just to be thorough, but I have my doubts...

Country Living Grain Mills claim their mill can hull buckwheat:
http://www.countrylivinggrainmills.com/how-to-de-hull-buckwheat-with-the-country-living-mill/

...but the instructions are internally inconsistent, difficult to follow, and too general to give me any confidence that this (a rather expensive) mill could do it.

I do have a burred roller mill that I can gap up to 0.07 inch. At it's maximum setting it still shreds hulls and crushes the kernels.

I'm going to make some inquiries with WonderMill about their Junior Deluxe (my front-runner for my future purchase of a nice mill); to see if they think it might work.
   
So to the Permies community: has anyone tried this sort of thing before? Any failures or successes that might shed light on how to remove buckwheat and confectionery sunflower hulls at home without needing uncommon tools?

 
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Here's the only account I've seen for sunflower seeds.  Mother Earth News blurb.  I haven't tried it myself.  I'm also interested in a way to get hulls off oats, buckwheat and wild rice.  

I made a wild rice dehuller that kind of works.  Hopefully I get more rice this fall and can optimize it.  There's a chance it could work for grains that could need their hulls "rolled" off.
 
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I grew buckwheat last year. The harvest was full of aborted seeds but it didn't matter at all. I grind the seeds in a small Cuisinart coffee grinder in 50g batches with 3 passes each batch. This is not ideal as the machine gets hot quickly. On each pass I sift the flour through an ordinary screen strainer. From my measures 100g of seeds will yield about 70g of flour. I need 60g of flour for a pancake recipe.  There is a lot of little pieces of hull in the flour but I don't think it's even close to 40%. I find it gives a nice texture to the pancakes. I imagine all that fiber must be good for the gut.
 
Bobby Reynolds
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Mike Jay wrote:Here's the only account I've seen for sunflower seeds.  Mother Earth News blurb.  I haven't tried it myself.  I'm also interested in a way to get hulls off oats, buckwheat and wild rice.  

I made a wild rice dehuller that kind of works.  Hopefully I get more rice this fall and can optimize it.  There's a chance it could work for grains that could need their hulls "rolled" off.



That is AWESOME! I laughed a fair bit, too, as I sold my Kirby when downsizing to get ready for homesteading. IF ONLY I HAD KNOWN! :D I really like the idea of overfilling the water winnowing pail... I'd only heard of people skimming residue off the surface.

It's a creative solution, though, I'll keep it in mind as I fiddle! I have zero experience with wild rice so I can't offer anything on that front. But if you do get it dialed in, please share! I'd love to read what you came up with. I think barley might be a good candidate for a roller huller.

For oats, however, good news! There are several tasty hullless/naked varieties where the light hulls will easily come off with regular threshing. Examples I have HEARD people speak of: Terra, Rhiannon, Pennuda, Chinese hullless, Shadeland, Spokane, Brighton, Torch River. I admit I haven't grown them myself yet. I'm still in oats as a green manure and straw. I haven't graduated to people food on that front yet. Hopefully next season!

Thanks for the thoughts!
 
Bobby Reynolds
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Francis Mallet wrote:I grew buckwheat last year. The harvest was full of aborted seeds but it didn't matter at all. I grind the seeds in a small Cuisinart coffee grinder in 50g batches with 3 passes each batch. This is not ideal as the machine gets hot quickly. On each pass I sift the flour through an ordinary screen strainer. From my measures 100g of seeds will yield about 70g of flour. I need 60g of flour for a pancake recipe.  There is a lot of little pieces of hull in the flour but I don't think it's even close to 40%. I find it gives a nice texture to the pancakes. I imagine all that fiber must be good for the gut.



I imagine it's a little loud as well :) That's a good variation/approximation of the Bonsall method, though, with nice sounding results! I'll do some further looking into screens/strainers. We are big into buckwheat pancakes as well. My sweetie LOVES kasha... I'm still trying to acquire a deep appreciation for it, but I'm happy to keep trying. But we need nearly whole kernels for that. Another challenge...

I'm hoping to do batch processing where I might do a kg at a time. I've heard lots of reports of whole grain flour keeping very well in the freezer, so I'd like to go that route. Our kitchen is too small to have a permanent milling station setup. If I every get the opportunity to build a new place I will DEFINITELY make sure there is one so we can do more mill-as-you-go work with meal preps.

Thank you for the info, good stuff!
 
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Molcajete.

Haven't tried it with large batches but a "Mexican grinder" to crack the hulls some & a fairly large screen size sifter works. This year there will be much more buckwheat!!!

For the record ... first time a tried a bigger batch in an electric blender ... the motor burned up. It was freaky loud too. Just saying.

 
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We mill whole buckwheat with our Diamant flour mill with metal plates. The hulls mostly flake off and our sifted out with an ordinary flour sifter. Small particles of hull add fiber to the flour and are not a problem for us. We use buckwheat flour in many recipes as we don't eat gluten grains. Did you know that you can make wraps with buckwheat flour?The only way we've been successful with home grown sunflower seeds is to use them for sprouting in shallow trays of soil. They don't need to be hulled for that.
 
Bobby Reynolds
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Larisa Walk wrote:We mill whole buckwheat with our Diamant flour mill with metal plates. The hulls mostly flake off and our sifted out with an ordinary flour sifter. Small particles of hull add fiber to the flour and are not a problem for us. We use buckwheat flour in many recipes as we don't eat gluten grains. Did you know that you can make wraps with buckwheat flour?The only way we've been successful with home grown sunflower seeds is to use them for sprouting in shallow trays of soil. They don't need to be hulled for that.



I'm not familiar with the Diamant, I'll have to investigate. It sounds like lots of people are having good success with the flour side of things using a sifter, so that's great! The groats still remain out of reach, but I'll see if I can make progress. If I can get a flour milled gapped large enough I have a feeling the first past sorted with the flour sifter could yield a little bit of flour and the remainder might be a combination of groats and hulls that can then be winnowed. I'll keep experimenting and update this thread with any results.

Thanks for the tip on the sunflowers!, too! I hadn't considered sprouting them. I was hoping to grind them into a meal, but that's certainly a good use of them!
 
Bobby Reynolds
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Mike Barkley wrote:Molcajete.

Haven't tried it with large batches but a "Mexican grinder" to crack the hulls some & a fairly large screen size sifter works. This year there will be much more buckwheat!!!

For the record ... first time a tried a bigger batch in an electric blender ... the motor burned up. It was freaky loud too. Just saying.



Interesting! I don't have a traditional molcajete, but I do have a plain old mortar and pestle. I hadn't thought to try that. One more experiment to go!

I did try lightly cracking them on a table top using a broad, flat tool (in this case it was a dough cutter). The challenge is I think the hulls are strong enough that whatever force you use crack them it's almost guaranteed to crack the kernel, too. The industrial machines use rollers with grooved channels in them. I think this more squeezes the hull than crushes it, so the kernels come out in tact.

Briefly soaking the hulls before milling might improve things.

RIP blender :) A friend of mine did that trying to pulverize dandelion root. What a spectacle!
 
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Any update?
 
Mike Jay
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My wild rice dehuller didn't work as nicely as I hoped.  But on the good side, I have a wild ricing buddy now who wants to help build a better dehuller.  So maybe we'll get something made one of these days.  I have three chicken food bags full of parched rice just waiting to be dehulled.....
 
Matt Armstrong
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What about sunflower seeds?
 
Bobby Reynolds
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Mike Jay wrote:My wild rice dehuller didn't work as nicely as I hoped.  But on the good side, I have a wild ricing buddy now who wants to help build a better dehuller.  So maybe we'll get something made one of these days.  I have three chicken food bags full of parched rice just waiting to be dehulled.....



Awesome! I'd love to hear how it goes!
 
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Matt Armstrong wrote:What about sunflower seeds?



I'm afraid I don't have any update to offer. Our season went bonkers last year as we started selling produce and crafts at market. I'm up to my eyeballs in planning the upcoming season.

Even thought I'm not on permies much these days I haven't forgotten about it! When I DO have information worth reporting I will!
 
Mike Jay
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I was just checking out the YouTubes for dehullers and saw this video.  It made me smile to see how hand built it was.  Some comments suggest the results are fake so I'm not sure it works.  But it very well might.  And the ingenuity in building it made me chuckle.  Take it for what it's worth:
 
Bobby Reynolds
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Mike Jay wrote:I was just checking out the YouTubes for dehullers and saw this video.  It made me smile to see how hand built it was.  Some comments suggest the results are fake so I'm not sure it works.  But it very well might.  And the ingenuity in building it made me chuckle.  Take it for what it's worth:



That's awesome! Thank you for posting!
 
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I'm looking forward to growing some buckwheat and some sunflower seeds and I've got a friend who lives in a populated area looking for a Kirby for me since I sold or gave away the one I had decades ago. Too bad the Kirby wouldn't work to shell this garbage bag full of black walnuts that is taking up space in my freezer. (or would it? hmm) Anyway, It'd be great if anyone who has a Kirby could experiment with seeds other than buckwheat and sunflower so a list could be compiled of what works with the Kirby method along with any slight modifications to the procedure such as optimal intake size. If some seeds don't work due to being too delicate then maybe an electrical engineer could design a speed control to lower the speed of the motor. I forget what type of motor is in the Kirby but I suspect it could not be slowed down by simply reducing the voltage but a variable frequency controller would probably work.
 
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What's your rice dehuller like, Mike?

Is it similar to the one on the Wild Harvests blog?  http://arcadianabe.blogspot.com/search?q=rice



For sunflowers, would an oat roller or one of those rubber roller peas shellers work?  Seems like an obvious thing someone's already ruled out, but it hasn't been mentioned.  I imagine if it did work, it would just crack the shell, and then you'd have to bang them around somehow to get the shells to actually come off, then winnow.
 
Mike Jay
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Why yes Jan, that's very similar to my attempt.  How'd you know?!?!?!?

I used some food grade belting which is a bit too smooth (I think).  And I'd like a more continuous process so I can feed in the rice and watch it come out and adjust/improve to make it better.

I hadn't seen a pea sheller before, that could be worth a shot with sunflower seeds.  
 
Jan White
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Mike Jay wrote:Why yes Jan, that's very similar to my attempt.  How'd you know?!?!?!?



Your comment about rolling the hulls off was my clue.  Plus, it's the only one I've seen :D
 
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Thanks for all the ideas in this thread folks. I'd like to add another one that the YouTube algorithms have given me.

https://youtu.be/MdoMJ9Hhaiw
 
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