Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Take Me On A Tour: Great Harvest Bread Company

We're lucky to be surrounded by creative Mamas who invite us along for their adventures! Tuesday, Mrs. Renee set up a tour of the Great Harvest Bread Company & we tagged along to check it out. Our CoOp group went last year, but we were out of town and missed the tour, so I was excited to finally check it out!

Great Harvest is a small bakery & store front, but it's a passion of the owners, Craig & Shelley. In college, a bakery opened next door to Shelley's dorm and she dreamed of owning her own bakery some day. She & her husband have done a great job with Great Harvest!!
Our first stop was the store front, where we had a quick discussion about being "in" the working bakery! Things are hot & to be safe, everyone walked through with their hands behind their backs.

We went all the way to the back, into the milling room. Great Harvest grinds all their own wheat, and we learned the different stages of the process...from wheat to wheat berries to flour to bread!

Mr. Craig comes to work six days a week at 4am to grind the wheat daily!

After grinding the wheat, it is quite hot at about 150 degrees. If left to sit, it would cook itself. So they use these large copper tubes to mash around the huge tub of freshly ground flour. The heat from the flour goes into the copper tubing, allowing the flour to cool quickly.

From the milling room, we went to the mixing room! The mixer looked just like our stand mixer at home, except SUPER sized! By the time the dough is mixed in the huge bowl, it weighs as much as 3 children. Good thing the bowl is on wheels...

I had a proud Mama moment in here. When asked about yeast & what it does, Reese piped up "It makes bubbles in the dough." That's right baby! All our attempts at making bread taught you something more than just the fact that yo' mama can't make bread!

One of the ingredients in the Great Harvest breads is honey. In a bee's lifetime, it will make just 1/4 teaspoon of honey total. So to get this HUGE barrel of honey, it took the lifetime work of 500,000 bees. Holy cow. Thank you, bees!

The dough goes from the mixing room to the kneading tables. The Kneading Lady puts out about 100-150 loaves a day...all kneaded by hand. I bet she never has a jar lid that's stuck, because she's got to have some amazing hand/arm muscles!

The oven was across from the kneading table & was truly a work of art. Here, you see children on the left, floor-to-ceiling oven on the right. It measures 12x12x12. There are 8 "shelves" that move around the center pole like a ferris wheel.

I see some yummy cranberry loaves baking!

I had to get a picture of this timer! All the knobs & dials...oh wow! Mr. Craig uses the black & red dials for the breads, and the green & yellow dials are for the bakers making sweets.

At the end of our tour, we got to taste some samples!!!

You can't beat a slice of freshly baked wheat bread....

But who could just stop at a slice of bread? Reese picked a pumpkin-chocolate chip muffin out of the case & dug in...boy was it tasty!

Great Harvest Bread Company is truly a labor of love & well worth a visit!


cbashara said...

Okay, first of all - kneading by hand??? Wow! Just watching the kitchen aid knead the dough exhausts me! LOL!

Second, I bet this place smells great! Remember going on field trips to Butter Crust?? I will never ever in my life forget that smell and the taste of the warm bread after it came out of the oven.

Madge said...

what fun! wonderful photos as well.

TattooedMinivanMom said...

Cool. I love taking tours. I like that show Unwrapped for the same reason.

Renee said...

Great photos! Yes it was a great trip. Anna even remembers that they get their wheat from Montana!!

Shar said...

What a fun field trip!

And I think that I would die if I kneaded 100-150 loaves of bread a day. Or ever.

Pamela said...

We have a Great Harvest near us that used to be a Montana Mills store. Either way, those peeps make a serious rye bread.

And kneading bread isn't that hard. I have a recipe for four loaves (at once), and a bit of carpal tunnel in both wrists, and I have no problem with the kneading. You should try it...super cheap therapy!

blessedintexas said...

We love Great Harvest and their tours are awesome! Nice pics, as always!