Bread has been a staple of almost every human civilization. The grinding of seeds or nuts into a flour and the kneading of that flour, sometimes leavening, dates back thousands of years.
Across ancient Europe, into Africa, parts of Asia, South, and North America all had some version of ground flour that was turned into a fluffy bread or an unleavened bread.
From the temperate areas to the extreme heat of the desert and the ruthless cold in northernmost regions. You find flatbread in the Middle East and India and bannock from the Natives in places like Canada.
To be an effective baker of bread, you need some skills and ingredients:
- Yeast (if you choose to make a risen bread)
- A Sturdy Mixing Bowl
- Strong Arms for Kneading
- A Stone in your Oven
The Grinding Process
Grinding seeds and dried roots into flour requires some tact. You cannot just toss them into a food processor and buzz. Some nuts and seeds are too strong for a food processor. Others can be whizzed up into nut butter if you are not careful.
You can invest in a hand grain mill. Of course, preppers see the value in that because there could come a time or a period where electricity is no longer available.
Your high powered grinder will be no good without electricity. However, the hand grain mill is no picnic!
Another tip is to assure that the items to be ground are roasted or thoroughly dried. You will never make flour if there is too much moisture. You will only make a paste.
Now let’s look at the 6 backyard plants that you could use, right now, to make flour with and then use that flour to make bread.
Native Americans have used the big oak’s acorns to make flour for a very long time. They would even eat them just as they fall. There is a good chance you have acorns in or around your yard right now! They are common.
However, they are also filled with tannins and because of that, they are so bitter that you need to leech out the tannins. This can be done by boiling them in several different pots of water. Start them in cold water and then bring that water to a boil.
Dump the water and start the process over. Do it at least 3 times to get to an edible state. Food that is heavy with tannins will make you vomit if you eat too much.
The acorns should be shelled, roasted and pulverized before the leaching process. Also, go for the white oak when it comes to harvesting. They have the least amount of tannins.
Related: How to Make Acorn Flour
Amaranth seeds are becoming increasingly popular. They are a much healthier alternative to regular flour and even has a decent protein content.
You will have to either grow amaranth or know of nearby amaranth field.
Amaranth is easy to harvest when you find plenty of it that is bearing seed. Amaranth is also a gluten-free option for those who need that.
Dandelions are unique because you can actually make bread using the flowers from the dandelion! You don’t even need to turn it into flour. You could use your acorn flour and some fresh dandelions to make a completely foraged loaf of bread with multiple ingredients.
Please see here how to make dandelion bread step by step with pictures. This is a quick bread that requires eggs and is very tasty.
The cattail has long been known as the survivor’s best friend. From their edible shoots to their tinder tops and even that starchy root. We are going to focus on the root in this one. If you source a few nice sized cattail roots you can make some cattail flours.
They will first have to be washed off and then sliced thin. Place these into a 200-degree oven for 3-5 hours to dry them out. Some people will roast them, but I like to nearly dehydrate them.
Remember what I said about moisture. Plus, you can avoid adding oil or anything like that.
Once they are dried you can run them through your grain mill. This flour can be used to make bread that is either leavened or unleavened.
Harvesting curly dock seeds will require that you have a serrated blade because the stem is woody. You need to be wary of things like rot and bugs. Bugs like to hand under these seed pods. You don’t want blended bugs in your flour.
I will warn you; it is no quick process here but it’s worth giving a try.
Shuck the seeds off the branches and onto your sheet pan. You will want to pick through them and then rinse them all before drying in an oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes.
You are then going to want to roast them for about 15 more minutes. This will help separate from the chaff which can be tedious.
After the chaff is separated it can easily be ground into flour and that flour used as a substitute or combined with wheat flour.
You might not believe it, but crabgrass was a popular edible used to make flour, a couscous like food and even fermented to make beer! One plant puts out up to 150,000 seeds.
Like most plants with small seeds, it is a time-consuming process to husk them all. Ancient peoples used a mortar and sand then a fine sieve to get the work done. No matter how you do it you can get a massive amount of seeds.
In fact, crabgrass is a popular grain in Africa and yields 17 tons per acre! This might be the perfect backyard ingredient for making bread.
Many of the practices, skills, and foods that kept our ancestors alive have been thrown out and forgotten. It is one of the darkest parts of the 20th century. The convenience that made life feel so good erased the need for self-reliance and independence.
Every one of these backyard flours and corresponding bread is something that people eat in other parts of the world or have eaten throughout history.
If you plan to depend on flours and bread from the backyard, now is the time to be making them. Trust me. Don’t make the mistake of learning how to separate the chaff from curly dock seeds when you have a hungry family at the table.
You may also like: