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Valley family making flour in style of old Tempe mill

PHOENIX — Back in 1874, a man by the name of Charles Hayden founded Hayden Flour Mills in Tempe.

Hayden might be gone, but the special way he produced flour is being recreated by a local family-run business.
Jeff Zimmerman had a vision to bring back the purity of flour, offering an opportunity for consumers to enjoy a non-hybridized and minimally-processed product milled from a small nook behind a restaurant near downtown Phoenix.

“It’s like this edible history project,” said Emma Zimmerman. “We’re doing what Charles Hayden did back in 1874, but modernizing it. What you’re smelling is the smell of the field, it’s the smell of Arizona.”

The Zimmermans use one grain, among others, that was originally brought to the area by Jesuit missionaries. The grain, called White Sonora, disappeared for a time before being brought back about three seasons ago.

“We started growing in small quantities and growing the acreage,” said Emma. “Now this is our third season of planting, bringing it back here and milling it fresh to order.”

The smell, color and texture is significantly different than the flour sold in Valley grocery stores.

“It’s a creamy color, you see the whole grain, the bran, the germ. It’s sweet, like when you knead the dough, it just has a great texture and has a personality.”

No herbicides or pesticides are used and the appeal of it has reached forward-thinking local chefs like Chris Bianco and Mark Tarbell.