Thursday, October 24, 2013

Process Engineering 101

Today, I put my really dusty old process engineer hat on and went about processing some grain. Particle separation! Makes my heart swell. Of course, I would probably have done much better modeling the thing in 3D using finite element techniques than actually having to, you know, do the thing. The chaffing. But let's backtrack.

We grew some amaranth. Really beautiful plant that yields flowers, leafy greens and grain. The tallest, purple-red stalks is what we harvested today. Maybe three large stalks and several smaller ones.


Clipping the tops and sort of squeezing/massaging them to make the seeds fall out was the easy part. A colander, or later, a screen of my dehydrator, kept the large pieces of non-grain out. 

But then the hard part is to separate the grain from the chaff! And the bugs! And the random little sticks! This is where we got creative:

Blowing across while pouring the grain into a second bowl? Reasonable separation CAN be achieved, but it's tricky to place the bowl and blow at just the right strenght... plus there were natural wind gusts!

We tried every sieve we could think of:
The most successful was Ellie's idea to use a windowscreen. Just the right size gauge!

The chickens were unimpressed even though there were plenty of seeds falling to the ground. Apparently we're raising spoiled hens (who are being fed a lot of homegrown sunflower seeds these days...)
What did we have to show for our hard labor? 

A cup of amarath, not even 100% clean. Of course, one could say we grew our yearly supply of amaranth, because we really don't even know what to do with it. Yet.

But whoa. Processing one's own grain seems incredibly hard after this little exercise. Yay, mechanisation! Economies of scale! If it ever comes to the point where we have to grow our own grains, we'll be a potato-only family as far as carbs go!

Manic MotherThe Self Sufficient HomeAcre


  1. I'm impressed, seriously! :-) Liebe Grüße,


  2. You're awesome! I've wanted to try growing grains for awhile - you've inspired me! We shared with our FB readers at

  3. This is fascinating! We've never tried growing grains before. Thanks for sharing this with us at the HomeAcre Hop. We'd love to have you back again this morning. :)