Monday, May 15, 2023

History of flour milling in United States

Grains have been ground to make flour since the Roman times – from 6000BC onwards. Grains were toasted to remove the chaff from the wheat and then smashed between two stones. The Romans are believed to have been the first to use waterpower for milling flour, about 100 B.C. In the middle of the 16th century, the first European settlers had arrived in New France, bringing with them their flour milling technology.

In the late 18th century, Oliver Evans invented the first automated flour mill in the United States that did the work of seven men. It used millstones, had an enormous amount of levers and pulleys, and was very noisy. Evans’ mills were water powered, so they were situated along rivers.

He also introduced screw conveyors to move flour and wheat horizontally and bucket elevators to lift grain and its milled products called grist. He assembled these machines, together with sifters or bolters, in the first continuous system in which wheat was milled into flour as a single uninterrupted operation.

The following years saw a huge jump in technology, as new roller mills were constantly developed and improved. After the Revolution and until about 1830, Baltimore was the leading flour trade center in America. Its resources were abundant waterpower on the fall line, boat access to wheat lands in both the Chesapeake Coastal Plain and the Virginia Piedmont.

In 1875, the Americans combined the European roller mill, Oliver Evan’s automated mill, and the recent invention of the purifier to create an outstanding new version of the roller mill. The process of the roller mill system is to clean the grain of straw, dust, stones, and any other debris.

The use of harder wheat, initially imported from Canada in the middle of the 19th century, as well as the mechanization of milling, encouraged the widespread adaptation of a method called “New Process.” First used in Hungary, the miller using the “New Process” set his mill stones farther apart to crack rather than crush the wheat.
History of flour milling in United States