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Wegmans Food Markets’ Pittsford, N.Y., store has installed a handcrafted mill near the bakery, making it the first supermarket to offer such a feature, according to the 88-store grocer, which operates in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts..
Overseen by bread artisan Nick Greco, the Osttiroler Getreidemühlen (Tyrolean combination mill) will use only organic grains. The resulting flour will be mixed into dough and baked when ready in ovens. The first variety of bread slated to be made is Einkorn Rye, from wheat grown on farms about an hour’s drive from Pittsford. Einkorn is a hearty ancient grain first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent of what is now the Middle East. A loaf will sell for $5.50.
Eventually, Wegmans plans to use the mill to make other stone-ground local, organic flours to create other bread varieties.
“Baking with flour made from locally sourced grains, right out of the mill, is a very special experience,” said Greco. “There are flavor notes, and a subtle sweetness you can taste in a really fresh loaf that aren’t there if a few weeks have passed since the flour was milled. I compare it to the difference between tasting an apple that’s been in cold storage to a ripe apple you pick from the tree.”
The mill came about after Greco offered Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman a taste test to demonstrate the superiority of items made from freshly milled flour. Greco then received the go-ahead to visit an Austrian mill manufacturer to see about a supermarket installation. The mill the company built, measuring 10 by 4 by 7 feet, is made of alpine pine and features a stone grinder that can produce a wide range of flours. According to Wegmans, the mill is quiet enough that people in the store can have a conversation close by while it’s operating.
The Pittsford mill is especially meaningful to Wegmans, since its hometown of Rochester, N.Y., located by the Genesee River and the Erie Canal, was home to many mills, earning it the sobriquet “Flour City.” The Pittsford store itself is "little more than a stone's throw" from the canal, according to the company.