When I visit an artisan and they explain to me with abandon what they do in every detail, I feel the passion in their voice and I get all sorts of emotions running into my system. We should all really be passionate about what we do in life and although I appreciate this is not always the case for everyone, if you do a job and you can enjoy it at the same time, well that is a bonus. Life suddenly becomes much more exciting indeed and a job done with passion will always be a job well done.
My passion is to write about the people who are preserving their family traditions which sadly are slowly disappearing. Artisans need to be encouraged and helped to maintain those traditions.
My visit to one of the last historicals mills of Trentino was fascinating. I visited a water powered mill before in my region Friuli Venezia Giulia which was slightly smaller than this one.
Molino Pellegrini only produces polenta and buckwheat flour. Alberto has carried on the family business which has been running for 3 generations. His grandfather, Bruno Pellegrini started it.
The oldest part of the building dates back to around 1700 and this is when a man made stream was made, called Varoncello. The power of the water was used to run his mill as well as other craft activities in several businesses of the area.
For the last 110 years the mill has been powered by a water turbine which is located just outside the mill.
The structure of the mill still remains the same as when it was first built in 1903.
It was interesting to be shown that there are different types of corn, from the classic yellow one to the white one, red and to an interesting multicolored variety which is mainly used for decoration.
White corn makes white polenta which goes well with fish
This type of multicoloured corn is usually used for decoration
Red corn makes very good polenta
Buckwheat is used a lot in Italy: you can make pasta with it or polenta taragna which is a mixture of cornflour and buckwheat flour.
The corn arrives already hulled and it is stored in sylos. Every month the mill buys the corn from local farmers from Lombardia and Veneto. The corn is dried and cleaned on the 4th floor.
The corn can be milled in two ways: with a cylinder or with a stone.
With the cylinder the corn arrives and it is put through a machine with a cylinder. The miller decides the thickness of the flour which can go through the cylinder several times depending on the type of flour the miller wants.
What you get when milling corn is: the flour, the starch, the germ and the bran or skin of the corn. The starch can be used in cooking to thicken sauces and to make cakes softer (it is often used in Italian cakes) but also and mainly for animal feeds.
The bran is used for animal feeds.
There are 4 floors. Upstairs there is the second stage of milling. The flour is remilled 7 -8 or even 10 times .
This is the stone mill where the grains are milled between two stones. As the grains are milled gently they don’t overheat so the nutrients are not “cooked away” in the milling process. The miller puts the grains in at the top, the stones whir around and grind it and the flour is collected at the bottom.
On the second flour the flour is separated and this can happen in different ways.
It can be separated through weight; Usually the flour is heavier than the bran and the starch. Alberto gave us a good example on how separation occurs: imagine a fat man, a mid size one, a child and lots of wind. The fat man remains steady in the same position, the mid size one has to struggle to maintain his position and the child gets blown away. They correspond to the flour, the bran and the starch.
It can also be separated through a sieve. This allows you to produce different types of flours.
A traditional mill like this one produces a flour which is certainly superior in quality to an industrially produced one. Through smell, touch and sight the miller decides whether the flour has been milled well. Everything is done by hand… and above all passion!
I really enjoyed it. Thanks Alberto, what a great job you are doing. Carry on with this tradition we don’t want things like this to disappear forever. This is something to be really proud of.
Molino Pellegrini snc
di Pellegrini Alberto e C.
via Varoncello 27, 38066
Varone, Riva del Garda (TN)