Grains of Knowledge with Brian Severson Farms
Guest Blog Post by Shulamis Rouzaud, staff member of Brian Severson Farms:
Brian Severson is a 5th generation farmer farming in Dwight, Illinois, which is about 80 miles south of Chicago. He works the farm with his wife, Karen, and his oldest son, Luke. His youngest son, Joel, and daughter, Sarah, are currently away in college (though are still a tremendous help during the summer) , and middle son, Seth, is married and working as a flight instructor in South Carolina. Brian and his family grow and mill wheat, corn, oats, sunflower and buckwheat on their 550 acre farm. Of those 550 acres, 530 acres are tillable. Brian selects his crops for nutrition and flavor, and is passionate about the freshness and safety of the food he brings to market.
Brian grows a Hard Red Spring (HRS) wheat variety called Glenn (good for bread, has a 13.2% protein percentage this year), a Soft Red Winter (SRW) wheat variety that had been popular with Dwight area farmers (good for pastries, pancakes, etc, has a 8.6% protein percentage), and an heirloom Hard Red Winter (HRW) wheat variety call Turkey Red (more of a general purpose wheat with a 11.6% protein). All three wheats taste and handle differently and our team at Brian Severson Farms would be glad to discuss which is most appropriate for a given application. The wheats are available as wheat berries and as fresh stone-ground flour (both 100% whole wheat flour and a high extraction sifted flour). Since all-purpose wheat berries don’t occur in nature, Brian has also created a custom blend of the bread flour and pastry flour to offer an all-purpose flour.
Heirloom open-pollinated organic corn: Brian grows a white butterfly popcorn variety from Pennsylvania, a white dent corn from the south, a yellow dent corn variety called Henry Moore, a red dent corn variety called Bloody Butcher from the Appellations, and a blue flour corn variety called Blue Hopi from southwest America. All five corn varieties are stone-ground on the farm and can be used for grits, polenta, making cornbread or baking with in general. Each has it's own rich, interesting histories, more intensive than this blogpost has room for, so be sure to reach out and ask next time you’re at the market or placing an order.
The popcorn is available as whole kernels for popping, and as stone-ground cornmeal. Brian calls the popcorn cornmeal, popcorn flour, since it can be used in baking. It’s also available as popcorn cornbread mix. The Henry Moore corn is available as whole kernels and stone-ground as cornmeal, bolted grits, corn flour, and in a cornbread mix. The Bloody Butcher corn available as whole kernels and stone-ground as grits and fine cornmeal. The Hopi Blue corn is available as whole kernels and stone-ground as fine cornmeal. Each corn variety is unique and has its own delicious flavor profile!
The oats Brian grows are a hulless oat species (Avena nuda) that fell out of general use this past century because they are harder to grow. They have the advantage that they can be used as food right from the field, without being processed to remove the hulls, giving them a much better, more natural flavor. The oats are available whole (called groats), stone-ground as oat flour, as stone-ground fine and coarse oatmeal (similar to traditional Irish and Scottish oatmeal), and as rolled oats (cold-rolled as opposed to steam-rolled for added nutrition and flavor).
The buckwheat is available stone-ground, as both fine and very fine grinds. Contrary to its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, and is actually similar nutritionally to amaranth and quinoa.
Brian and the Severson family offer other products as well, such as biscuit mix, pancake mixes (available as buckwheat, oat, or wheat), cornbread mixes (available with Henry Moore corn or popcorn), and a grainola mix you can make into granola at home.
Brian does the milling himself on the farm, and he can also custom mill larger orders to spec.
You can buy all of Brian Severson Farms products at their booth at Green City Market in Lincoln Park every Saturday or order online at qualityorganic.com. Call the farmhouse at (815)584-1850 or email Brian and Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
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