I first met Darrold and Marty Glanville, founders and owners of Sunrise Flour Mill of North Branch at the Mill City Farmers Market about five summers ago. Darrold opened a sack of Turkey Red wheat kernels and spilled a few into my palm. They were shiny, rich, mahogany brown and they slipped through my fingers as if alive.
"When any grain is ground fresh, there's a different quality to the flour," Darrold Glanville said. "It will have a distinct flavor, whether it's wheat or rye or corn. The heritage grains we work with are especially tasty."
Fresh is not a quality I associate with the big bags of cornmeal or flour found on grocery store shelves.
But open a bag of Sunrise Flour Mill's cornmeal and you get a whiff of fresh, milky corn. The freshly ground wheat flour smells like whole wheat toast.
Glanville, a retired corporate executive, became interested in heritage grains when he was looking for alternatives to commercially processed flours. An ardent baker, he began milling his own and loved the resulting breads and baked goods he made.
"I swear many of my digestive problems cleared up," he told me. He gave his freshly milled flours to friends and then began selling them in small batches.
"Pretty soon, the demand was so great, it grew into a business. I can hardly keep up with the orders from home bakers, cafes and restaurants," he confessed. But somehow, he has.
The milling has expanded to include a variety of organic whole grain products. Turkey Red heritage wheat flours (sifted, whole wheat and more) all make wonderful bread with a great loft and firm crust. Though I'm a clumsy baker, using these flours in cookies, cakes and breads yields terrific results.
Sunrise Flour Mill's proprietary pizza flour is the key ingredient in the pizzas from Red Wagon in Minneapolis. The rye flour, speckled and especially fragrant, has a distinct tang.
In addition to the flours, Sunrise sells heritage wheat berries that are delicious in salads and soups. They encourage local farmers to plant these varieties so the wheat can be sourced locally.
I can attest that the 7 Grain Heritage Pancake and Waffle Mix satisfied the group of kayakers who were camping with me on Lake Superior, and the Fresh Flaked Oats made winning breakfasts two mornings in a row.
If you meet up with Glanville at the Mill City Market, he may give you a portion of his treasured sourdough starter that seems to travel with him everywhere he goes (most recently to Sweden). And be sure to get his recipe for polenta and cornbread.
Sunrise Flour Mill products are available in 2 ½- to 20-pound bags. Find them at local co-ops, at the Mill City Farmers Market (704 S. 2nd St., Mpls., millcityfarmersmarket.org) and online with prices around $10 for a 2 ½-pound bag. For more information, see sunriseflourmill.com.