Question about using a 40 mesh sifter

I just received my new Mockmill 100, several bags of grain, and a 40 mesh bolting screen from @breadtopia. Very happy with all of it. Although I had some success with the sifter, despite using a very large, wide-mouth bowl a lot of freshly sifted flour fell on the countertop.

How do people use these sifters? Do you sift flour onto a clean board or counter, or into a bowl? Do you place the sifter in a bag of some sort?

I’m in the process of sifter trials :slight_smile: I bought a 40 and a 50 2 weeks ago. I used the 40 into a bowl … kind of a mess. The 50 was too fine for my level of patience. I think you are onto something with the bag idea. I bought a roll of bread bags some time ago that I haven’t used like I thought and they are large enough for the sifter so would contain more of the dust … I think.

Still, I am not enamored of the 40 cake pan sized process. Up until about 5 years ago, I had a crank sifter because I remember in Home Ec (yes, I am that old!) learning about sifting so that all of the baking soda and/or salt didn’t go into 1 cookie. Anyway, cleaning out cupboards, I realized I hadn’t used it for years and got rid of it. So, thinking that might be a better option, just ordered a crank sifter but despite folks answering that it had a 40 screen, it does not. THEN, I saw a reference to this Progressive sifter on Beets and Bones blog.. The sifter has 2 screens, and a cup that comes off so you can sift into a cup. It holds 3 cups of flour. The blog author recommended this and showed using it for Einkorn. So, I have one. I’ve only used it once but like it better than the 40.

***edited to clarify my feelings on the 40 sifter. It is very well made. My objections are not due to quality, just personal preference in a tool. FWIW, I don’t like a “Danish dough whisk” either so am apparently adverse to some baker’s tools as it seems like most bread bakers LOVE the whisk …

1 Like

I have 40 and 50 mesh sifters. I used to use them over a large mixing bowl and the “high extraction flour” that resulted from using them was very nice to work with. But I am both pretty lazy and also really want to be eating the whole grain so now the sifters sit in a cabinet, getting pushed further and further back by my rummaging through the various things that get used more often.

If I was less lazy and/or wasn’t getting good enough performance from simply single-milling wheat berries very fine in my Mockmill (originally the 100, lately, the 100 pro), then I’d probably be sifting the first pass of flour with the 40 mesh screen and then re-milling what the sifter caught a second time.

But:

  1. I have found sifting to be a VERY messy and slow pain in the butt (iow, anti-lazy)
  2. I have found a technique with my Mockmill that lets me mill flour fine enough in one pass that I very thankfully have stopped all sifting.

What I do with my Mockmill (which is probably dumb and certainly not recommended procedure) is I have the adjustment calibrated so that I can push it quite a bit past where the stones start to touch each other. I turn on the mill with the stones NOT touching, and then pour berries into the hopper and immediately slide (MM 100) or rotate (MM 100 pro) the adjustment to a level of fineness setting that is past where the stones would be touching in an empty mill. With berries between the stones it keeps them from grinding against each other, but puts more pressure on the berries and flour and results in a finer end product. I watch the whole process carefully and make sure to back the stones off just as the final berries are being milled so that the stones aren’t grinding together at the end.

WARNING: It is very easy to use too much pressure and the result of that is that the mill stones get clogged up and you then have to go through a lengthy process (that is an even worse pain in the butt than sifting) to empty it all out and mill some rice to clean up the stones.

After having made that mistake a half a dozen times, I now have a pretty good sense for how much pressure is just enough and how much is too much based on the amount of flour that is coming out of the spout, and I can pretty much count on getting very nice, fine flour every time without clogging the mill stones.

I do not recommend that you try this. As far as I know, nobody at Breadtopia or Mockmill recommend that you use a Mockmill this way. But that is how I do it. I also used to race motorcycles, so… take that into account.

1 Like

Thanks Liz and Paul for your observations and suggestions. I will probably sift only occasionally, and see if I can rig something up so sifted flour doesn’t go all over the counter.

I have the 40 mesh from Breadtopia. When sifting the flour, I use parchment paper instead of a bowl to catch the flour. I lay the parchment paper (16" x 24") on the table, and when I use the sifter, the flour falls onto the paper. I then pick up the opposite edges of the paper and pour the sifter flour into the bowl. It is really easy and there is no clean up. I love using parchment paper for many other uses and buy it in bulk.

I also have the Mockmill Pro 100. The flour is milled so fine, that I haven’t used the mesh on it yet. I follow another website as well as this one for making bread. When using the recipes for theperfectloaf.com, I may try to use the mesh to make the type 85 flour Maurizio uses. I hope this helps.

2 Likes

Excellent idea, thanks Nellie.

@nellie.herman Thanks for the parchment paper idea. That worked well for me.
@susanmcc99 I tried both the bag and the parchment and for me, sifting on to the parchment worked very well and no flour dust off the paper, plus the sifted flour slid easily into my bowl.

I sift into a very large bowl. I take it outside on to the patio, which keeps mess to a minimum.
But, you’re not really baking until the kitchen is total a mess. :joy:

1 Like

I have a very wide lightweight aluminum bowl, and using either the 40 or 50 sifter, sift directly into that bowl and lose very little. I love making muffins with freshly sifted bran … no comparison in taste to the commercially prepared dusty dry bran of unknown wheat origin and sift date!

1 Like

I found this way is very neat and every bit of flour is saved.
Get a large food grade plastic bag. Put the sifter with flour into the bag. Use one hand and vigorously shake the sifter back and forth but with the ends of the bag closed around your wrist. All the flour falls into the bag! The bran stays in the sifter.

1 Like

I use an Oxo 5 quart plastic bowl. The sieve fits inside the bowl perfectly.
Hold the two parts together.
Shake the bowl, not the sieve.
Sift small amounts of flour, not the whole batch at one time.
Good luck.

1 Like