By Michelle M. Sharp, Founder and Content Creator of Meet the Minnesota Makers

Simple.

Clean. 

Local. 

That’s how Red Wing’s Sturdiwheat sources the ingredients for their beloved pancake, bread, and dessert mixes. It’s what they’ve done for more than 80 years. Today Sturdiwheat is family-owned and operated by mother-daughter team Suzanne and Missi Blue.

Origin Story

Arnold Kaehler, a farmer in Red Wing, MN, was grinding wheat in 1939 when the casing on his portable grinding mill broke. This allowed some of the outer layers of the wheat grains to sift through. This “mistake” turned out to be a delicious and nutritious discovery. Mr. K. enjoyed the flavor, but was most excited about the nutrition gained. He named his mixes V-10 to highlight the ten amino acids thought to exist to make a complete protein. Many years later it was discovered that there were in fact only nine essential amino acids so Sturdiwheat became the name of the company. 

Some people still refer to the original pancake and cereal mixes by their V-10 name when they call the Red Wing Sturdiwheat office. One of their eight employees will answer to the phone. Those phone calls are one of Missi Blue’s favorite parts of her job, “There are so many great stories that come through about people and our products. It is really fun to hear how Sturdiwheat has made an impression on people, so much that they take time to share those experiences with us. And in this busy world—that is the highest compliment!”

From the original three recipes Suzanne expanded their production line to include more varieties of premium and simple recipes to make bread mixes, pancake mixes, dessert mixes and coating mixes. All of the bread mixes were developed to perform well in bread machines and conventional ovens. There’s lots of testing to keep the mixes tasty and simple enough that anyone in your family can make and will enjoy the end result. 

Red Wing Legacy

Most mixes are prepared in small batches at their downtown Red Wing facility. “We love being a part of Red Wing’s downtown. Everybody can walk to get lunch. It’s easy to make deliveries to local partners including some area restaurants who buy our pancake and coating mixes directly from us,” shared Missi. “There are a lot of benefits to being right here and collaborating with everybody around. We’re really attached to our community.” 

The Blue Family’s local roots run deep, just like the Kernza they’ve added to their list of simple, clean, and local ingredients. Missi grew up along the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin and is a passionate advocate for the river and lake’s water quality. A former vice chair of the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance (LPLA), Missi is an active member of the board and the science committee. LPLA is a local champion of Kernza® perennial grain, hosting educational and advocacy events to protect the waterways that make Red Wing shine.

New Flavors with Locally-Sourced Kernza

At the 2022 KernzaFest, hosted in nearby Lake City, Missi realized that Sturdiwheat itself could support the research and development work of the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative and the Land Institute in Kansas. As a perennial grain Kernza’s deep root system is highly effective at filtering nitrates before they reach waterways like wells, rivers, and lakes. An intermediate wheatgrass that’s a cousin of wheat, Kernza has been improved over time as a grain crop by the research done in the field to make it easier to use in the kitchen. 

“Kernza is a perennial grain grown right here in Minnesota to protect our beautiful waterways. Sturdiwheat uses a lot of flour to make our products,” reflected Missi. “Part of the fun of being a small business is when you discover a problem and are nimble enough to address it. We got to work right away to develop mixes that include Kernza flour that’s been grown and milled here in Minnesota.” 

Missi and her recipe developers found that Kernza’s rich nutty flavor added a tasty new profile to their mixes. “We developed mixes that are a blend of Kernza and traditional wheat flour.” explained Missi. “We wanted to see how it tasted and we loved it. Kernza has its own flavor. Mixing in cinnamon complimented the warm tones of the grain.” 

Sturdiwheat also developed a honeyed Kernza muffin mix. “This has become my favorite. It creates this wonderfully dense, dark muffin,” smiled Missi. “They’re so good. When I make them, they disappear. I always eat the whole muffin even though I only plan to eat half.”

Kernza Cinnamon Pancakes

Both mixes feature locally-grown and milled Kernza. “It was important to us to be able to support our local growers and producers. I made sure that we would be able to purchase Minnesota-grown Kernza before we started working on recipes,” said Missi. “When you open up the bag of Minnesota Kernza flour it’s so fresh. It smells like you’re in the field.”

Sturdiwheat has always sourced as many of their primary ingredients locally as possible. “I don’t know if that started as a priority for Mr. K, but it would have been the easiest option in the 1940s,” said Missi. “Sturdiwheat just never stopped doing that as the business and our variety of mixes has grown. I think it makes our product uniquely Minnesotan. Every bag is full of the flavor of the Midwest.” 

Let’s Make Breakfast!

Honeyed Kernza Muffins

Find Sturdiwheat pancake mixes on grocery store shelves throughout the Midwest. For a full selection of their bread, fish fry, pancake, and dessert mixes as well as a range of kitchen accessories, visit www.sturdiwheat.com. Local pick up available. You’ll need to call to set that up. 

“We’re a Minnesota company. There’s a lot of pride in that,” stated Missi. “Adding Kernza to our ingredients is just another way of supporting the state and the community

that supports our business. Sturdiwheat is still made in Red Wing. We’re still using Mr. K.’s process and we’re still selling Sturdiwheat pancake mix and cereal because of their great taste. It just turns our that they’re good for you too.”

Follow @sturdiwheat on Facebook and Instagram for website specials and recipe inspiration. 

Follow @meettheminnesotamakers to discover the small business owners leading Minnesota on a tasty sustainable path forward.

This feature is sponsored by the Forever Green Initiative at the University of Minnesota. Sturdiwheat Foods is one of several innovators in sustainability that Meet the Minnesota Makers and Forever Green celebrate in this maker series.

Forever Green develops and improves winter-hardy annual and perennial crops (including Kernza!) that protect soil and water health. These initiatives provide new economic opportunities for growers, industry and communities across Minnesota. Learn more about Forever Green and their community partners on their website.

Visit meettheminnesotamakers.com or follow @meettheminnesotamakers on Facebook and Instagram to discover the farmers and innovators working to strengthen Minnesota’s local food networks. Meet the Minnesota Makers is a news site that connects you to the local food, farms, artists and artisans that make Minnesota thrive.

 

 

 

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