Grain on the Brain

I’m not typically a cake mix purchaser. When you still need to add milk, eggs, etc., it’s usually just as easy to make your baked goods from scratch. So I bought this bag of Grainstorm muffin mix at the Green Barns Farmer’s Market out of curiosity more than anything else.

The premise is that the various mixes (muffins, pancakes, oatmeal cookies and a vegan muffin) are all made from ancient grains, grown in Ontario and ground and mixes and then vacuum-sealed for freshness. They’re also peanut and nut-free. The grains though are not all that exotic – to me anyway – and include spelt, kamut, oats and red fife grains, all of which can be purchased as flours with relative ease, at least in Toronto. So I don’t know that buying a mix would really be saving me anything – I have most of these flours (plus buckwheat) in my cupboard at any given time and cook with them regularly.

Where I can see this product being very popular would be with people in smaller towns who might not have easy access to these heritage or ancient grain flours, or where bins of bulk goods might sit for months at the one local health food store that carries them, quickly going rancid. So fresh-ground and vacuumed-packed = awesome in that context. They’d also be fantastic for cottages or camping, because the dry ingredients are already measured and mixed.

But Sheryl, you’re saying, just tell us what they taste like! We actually found the finished product vaguely gritty. But with the addition of our own yogurt, eggs, butter and oil as indicated on the package, as well as some additions like dried cherries, pecans and coconut, they turned out pretty grand with a moist crumb despite the weird texture. And the nutty flavour of the kamut and spelt flours does come through. Spendy though; $7 for the mix, plus the cost of the wet ingredients. My (expensive) extras probably knocked it up to around $18 to $20 to make the whole batch, but I did get a dozen regular muffins and a dozen minis so it works out to good value for money.

I probably wouldn’t buy these again for myself; I have access to all of the flours they’re using, either from local markets or by buying bags directly from the farmer. But I’d recommend them for people who don’t bake a lot and therefore don’t keep a lot of funky flours around the house, or for camping, cottages or folks who don’t have shops that carry these types of grains nearby.