Word of mouth led me to Darrold and Marty Glanville, the husband and wife team who own and run the Sunrise Flour Mill out of North Branch, Minnesota. Incidentally, it’s also a Unifine Mill, but more on that later. Anyway, after getting to know them via their website, Darrold asked me to try their Unifine high extraction flour. I was blown away, as it’s a whole grain at a new level. Call it “Glanville Great!” Seriously, it’s really good. And so are the Glanvilles, who were kind enough to share their thoughts on the world of flour, baking, and running a food business. Now meet Darrold and Marty Glanville…
Share with us, what made you passionate about baking bread and milling?
After retirement we had many memories of the wonderful bread we enjoyed while traveling in Europe. We began baking to try to duplicate these breads and became very frustrated. After many tries we concluded that a big part of the problem was the quality of commercial flour in the US. Our daughter was experimenting with a small hand-powered flour mill. She loaned it to us and we milled some whole wheat flour and we made a better loaf of bread. It was the beginning of Sunrise Flour Mill. We were invited to be a part of a stall at the Mill City Farmers Market, a large, primarily organic/sustainable market in Minneapolis. After 3 weeks we were given our own stall and are still there. Meeting so many different people, often from around the country or even the world, who are so interested in baking and have so many stories and techniques keeps us interested in learning new things.
How do you suppose modern wheat is different then ancient varieties?
This is not an exaggeration, every week at the market at least one person tells us they can eat all the bread they want in Europe without symptoms but can’t when they are at home. After 12 years of milling and studying why so many people can eat heritage wheat and not modern wheat, we have concluded that modern bread is more difficult to digest because of three reasons:
A. The hybridizing that took place during the green revolution (1940’s and 50’s) changed wheat dramatically and, while it increased yields substantially, this hybrid wheat has become more difficult to digest. Then, because if the high yields and low prices of wheat, it is used in many products beyond baked goods, so people are eating a lot more of these less digestible wheats than they realize.
B. This new modern hybrid wheat cannot grow without man. It has a poor root system and is much less resilient than pre-hybrid heritage wheat. Because it’s so susceptible to drought, weeds, and natural pests it requires a lot of chemicals. When we spill some heritage wheat berries around our property, it grows by itself – even in the trailer we use to move grain.
C. Modern bread made in a factory can be made in 2-3 hours from flour to putting the bread in the truck. It’s hyped with extra gluten, dough conditioners, high amounts of yeast and other chemicals. It is no wonder that it is difficult for many people to digest. People have gotten away from baking sourdough bread which makes flour that is more digestible into breads and other products that are even more digestible. The answer is chemical-free heritage wheat flour and sourdough baking.
Has organic, ancient and or varietal grains become a branding or marketing scheme?
We believe so strongly in the merits and qualities of heritage wheat that we have evolved into a company milling only heritage wheat. Right now, we sell Turkey Red and White Sonora because of their baking properties that are superior to others we have tried. We always are on the lookout for new varieties to add to our lines. We certainly promote it saying that many people find this wheat more digestible than modern wheat but it’s not a scheme. It’s based on comments we receive weekly from customers who can eat it and never thought they could eat wheat again. It has not become the kind of marketing scheme that gluten-free, for example, has. When big business saw the value in getting people to buy it, it’s led to gf everything – including water!
Describe the differences of Unifine milling to stone ground, what makes it better?
Unifine mills a whole wheat flour much finer than any other milling system. This fine whole wheat flour makes it easier for the baker to make a lighter, loftier loaf of whole wheat bread. For years we have been trying to make whole wheat bread more appealing to the many people who only like light white bread. We think that this flour addresses this issue. While we continue to mill and sell white flour, we encourage our customers to use more of the unique whole wheat flours milled fine by Unfine. Marty does the baking that is not bread and is using 100% Whole Wheat Pastry Flour in everything she bakes. The results are excellent products that are more nutritious. So far, no recipe adjustments have needed to be made. She got away from sifting flour during the 70’s or 80’s when pre-sifted flour became popular. She continued after she stopped using that flour but didn’t connect it with why her creations weren’t turning out as they were supposed to. She now sifts again and gets the intended results. She is waiting for American recipes to be written in grams as bread recipes are. Until then, sifting will be necessary.
You have updated and modernized your internet business, with wonderful speed, how has it helped your business?
It’s almost impossible to gauge the growth pre-website vs. post-website because of the different way sales were tracked pre-website. However, looking at the orders to date from the website, sales are increasing at a good rate.
Are you primarily selling to home bakers or professional bakers?
There are many restaurants in the Twin Cities using our flour for breads, pasta, and pizza, as well as a few local artisan bakeries. Our main focus is the home baker whom we engage through the internet, our local sourdough bread classes, and participation in the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis. More people all the time are interested in baking their own bread and seek us out for assistance. We provide free sourdough starter with purchases locally, and give instructions for starting their own if they are not local.
Are you keeping to White Sonora, Turkey Red primarily or will you incorporate other grains in milling?
We love the results we get with milling Turkey Red and White Sonora, and at times Red Fife.
We look forward to introducing more varieties as we learn about them and as they become available. Several farmers in our network of suppliers are growing varieties of interest to us like Rouge de Bourdeaux, Spelt, Emmer, Einkorn and others. Darrold is particularly interested in exploring different heritage varieties of wheat for pasta. He thinks it is interesting that a great variety of heritage wheats are used in Italy. Each region or village grows a local landrace wheat that they have preserved over the years, and they use that variety for their pasta. He appreciates that durum is kind of a go-to variety for pasta world-wide,but thinks that there are many other varieties that can add some significant flavors and textures. To quote Marc Vetri, from his book “Mastering Pasta”, “There is no single perfect flour for making pasta”.
We have lots of people using our Turkey Red Heritage White Flour for making great pasta.
Are the grains only locally grown in Minnesota?
We support local growing and try our best to buy our grain as close to home as possible. We have always supported farmers by providing them wheat seed at our cost. However, some varieties just don’t do well in Minnesota’s humid summers. Our main supply of Turkey Red comes out of Nebraska with farmers in North and South Dakota also growing more heritage wheat all the time. Our supply has grown substantially over the past years with larger organic farms producing a good supply for us.
Who inspires you?
One of our greatest inspirations is the response we get from people attending our sourdough classes. They are so interested and excited about baking with nutritious flour that it’s a real pleasure to spend time with them. Their response is always positive, and they send picture if their successful bakes and sometimes with their failures and questions, but their enthusiasm is contagious. We often learn as much from them as we teach. The same is true for Mill City Farmers Market. It has a clientele that knows a lot about modern food and what has been done to it over the years. They teach us new things all the time. Every Sept we host a Bread Festival at Mill City Farmers Market as a way to promote home baking. We start with a showcase where people can bring samples of their bakes along with recipes and any stories that accompany them. Market customers are encouraged to sample and talk with the bakers. This is followed by demonstrations of several baking topics. Last year there were 20 who entered the showcase so we planned on 30 this year. There were 52! That shows us how the interest in home baking is growing. As this interest grows nationally, there are more artisan bakers and small millers. We have found that most are incredibly collegial and are willing to share what they have learned. There is room for all, and most don’t see others as a threat.
What do you like to bake most with your flour?
Darrold likes baking with flour, salt, and water. Perfecting basic bread never ends but he is starting to broaden his baking into multigrain, and some sweets. There is room for only one bread baker in the kitchen, Marty sticks with all the “other” baking. At first, she was trying our various flours on traditional recipes to see how they would react. It’s been established that all of our flours have a place in the “other” baking. When we talk to people about maintaining their starter, it’s apparent that since it’s an exponential equation for feeding it (doubling each feed), and that not everyone bakes even once a week, it has become clear that there is a need to use discard starters. It can be thrown away but many people don’t like to do that especially if they have named their starter so they remember to feed it as they would another family member. She now is in the process of adapting her trusted recipes into sourdough recipes. In these (cookies, quick breads, muffins, etc), the starter doesn’t act as a leavening agent but makes an already more digestible flour even more digestible. How does she know it acts to digest the flour? Her first try was on old family oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe she has been baking for years. She added all ingredients but the chocolate chips, added her starter and left it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning she tasted the dough (no, she’s not too worried about getting sick because she uses all organic ingredients). There was no sign of the oatmeal. It was in there, but the individual oats had been digested by the starter.
Who develops the recipes on the site?
We both develop recipes by collecting and combining recipes from many books and online recipes and then adapting them to our flours. “Flour Water Salt Yeast”, by Ken Forkish, and
“Tartine” by Chad Robertson, are two books that got us started. There are now many other books as well as a wealth of baking information on the internet to get ideas from. Marty bakes to episodes of “The Great British Baking Show”, for inspiration. She will never be that level a baker, but she does learn techniques and loves everyone’s passion for baking.
Our passion and love of the work has carried us this far but at our age (we started the business after we retired) we have to be realistic about the future of the company. In the near future we hope to involve more people in the business in addition to the dedicated people who have helped us get to this point. We would like to take a more selective roll in our work with the mill. We would like to rediscover additional varieties of heritage wheat and explore their unique characteristics and qualities as it relates to breads and pasta. We will continue to help farmers grow heritage wheat. And, we will continue to educate and inform an ever-increasing group of people interested in reconnecting with real food. We have been incredibly fortunate to have people with the skills we needed come into our lives just when we needed them.
Thanks for introducing me to this great business and terrific couple. I’m a life-long bread baker, focused on sourdough the last 15 years or so. I’ll be ordering from their website.
And you should Sylvia.. I’ve just finished the Sonora, and almost done with the Turkey Red…fabulous grains!