The welcoming aroma of fresh-baked bread filled the air as we walked into Brooklyn Mills Bakery in downtown Red Hook.
Owner and self-proclaimed “breaducator,” Aristos Janos, who goes by Rusty, greeted us with a warm smile, fresh-pressed panini, and cup of wine from his home country of Greece. Rusty takes great pride in his heritage, mainly because it’s what inspired him to bring his method of bread baking to New York City. “I was searching for good bread rolls to use for my kids’ sandwiches and was shocked that I could only find pre-packaged, manufactured, white, fluffy loaves that stayed on the shelves for months without going bad,” he told us.
And while most Americans are accustomed to this type of bread, Rusty had seen nothing like it during his childhood years in Greece. The bread he enjoyed was handmade, often by his grandmother or mother, through a process of stone milling, which uses two flat circular stones stacked on top of one another to ground grain in a continuous rotation until it’s smooth and fine.
This is the same process that’s been used for tens of thousands of years by cultures around the world. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the process changed dramatically, when the industrial revolution introduced modern steel roller mills that were faster, more efficient, and far cheaper than stone milling. The process changed once again in the mid-20th century, thanks to the demand by consumers for the whitest, fluffiest, and most refined bread, and the desire by companies for an even lower production cost. Known as the “green revolution,” bread-making companies began using new “improved” species of semi-dwarf wheat that, together with complimenting fertilizers and pesticides, increased yield spectacularly. Like the industrial milling revolution before it, the green revolution applied new technologies to improve efficiency and output, with little-to-no regard for its effect on human nutrition.
“For the last 70 years or so Americans have been eating bleach and synthetic vitamins in their bread without even knowing it—a process that’s illegal in Europe!” Rusty told us. “And that’s why I decided to open up my bake shop—to make real bread the old-fashioned way, just like my grandmother used to do in Greece.” His method involves a custom-made slow rotation stone mill, a process that allows the highest nutrient content of the grain, maintaining the germ, bran, and endosperm. “This is the only way for the vitamins from the valuable sprout, trace elements, and minerals underneath the bran layer to be used for nutritional purposes.” The germ that’s retained during the stone milling process gives the bread its “nutty,” genuine flavor and aroma, which we could certainly smell throughout the bakery.
When we heard about the European-style bread-making process going on at Brooklyn Mills, we knew we wanted to bring it to FreshDirect customers. “The people deserve good bread that’s made with 100% organic whole grain flour, absolutely no preservatives, and only natural ingredients, and that’s just how I make it.”
Just in time for summer barbecuing, we’re launching Brooklyn Mills Organic Stoneground Flour Brioche, which is perfect for sandwiching around a delicious burger or veggie burger. We had to wait a whole two months to launch these mouthwatering buns, since Rusty insisted on designing and producing specialty boxes for them in Europe. “A perfect brioche deserves perfect boxes,” he told us. He even took special care to consult Stephan, our in-house meat expert, to make sure the brioche buns were the perfect size and weight to fit our specialty blended burger meats!
Shop all our Brooklyn Mills delicacies here.
- Meet the Producer: Ito En
- Meet the Farmer: Gail Hepworth of Hepworth Farms
- Meet Our Farmers: Handsome Brook Farm