While I’ve been homebrewing beer since 2009, I’ve yet to visit a malt house or interview a maltster. However, ever since dipping both feet into sourdough baking this past April, I’ve done increasingly more research on the cultivation and milling of heirloom, ancient, and more well known grains. Some of which I was familiar from cooking thems as side dishes and incorporating them into my weekly challah bread. Hence when I discovered Castle Valley Mill, I was immediately impressed by the variety of whole berries and flours that they mill and sell.
On Wednesday, October 14th I drove 90 minutes from New Jersey to Doylestown, Pennsylvania to get a firsthand look at the impressive work of Mark and Fran Fischer, owners of Castle Valley Mill. Before sitting down with them for an interview, Fran guided me on a wonderful tour of the mill and its property during which I learned a lot about both the history of the mill, its restoration process, and the cultivation and milling wheat in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
I chose to record the audio of the tour while taking pictures with my cell phone along the way in order to edit together this audio-visual presentation about the mill and its history. I hope you enjoy this video as much I enjoyed the tour. Happy Baking!
Key points from the tour:
Castle Valley Mill was not in operation for 150 years prior to when Mark Fischer started restoring it 13 years ago. The restoration is close to being complete. Next steps include transitioning back to operating on water power and completing the restoration of additional milling stones and machines inside the mill.
Grain is moved from the basement to the third floor of the mill by a bucket elevator system (vertically) and archemedes screw (horizontally).
While the mill currently runs on 3-phase electric power. Mark always checks the original patents of each machine that he restores and looks for architectural signs first in order to make sure that modern touches are only added when absolutely necessary.
Before being milled, grains and corn go through a number of cleaning steps in fully restored machines such as the first-pass cleaner and revolving disc aspirator.
After being milled grains and corn are sifted using bolting cloths and then packed for distribution and retail business.
If a piece is missing during the restoration of a milling machine it is 3-D printed, tested, and then cast if it functions as intended.
All of their grains and corn are stone-ground using restored and well maintained milling stones.
All of the products that Castle Valley Mill sells are cleaned, milled, packaged, and stored cold on premises.