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Flour is an ingredient in cooking, made by milling one of the three available grains (cave wheat, longland grass and whip vine) at a millstone or quern. Milling involves grinding the grains beneath the wheel, rendering it from an inedible plant to an edible powder suitable for cooking. Milling plants needs one bag for every job, and one plant will be processed to make one bag of flour. Flour in bags or mill barrels do not wither like crops, and possess an indefinite shelf life if kept free of vermin. It is also a very efficient use of space, since a single barrel can store up to ten bags of flour. Given these attributes, flour serves as an excellent foodstuff. A relatively small stockpile can sustain a number of dwarves during a siege or the first few months of a new outpost.
Flour will be used in the kitchen when 'prepare meal' tasks are queued if it is enabled in the Kitchen tab in the Status screen. Flour is more valuable than the raw crop, (20☼ per unit for cave wheat flour and longland flour, 25☼ per unit for whip vine flour), and prepared meals made with flour have a higher value. Bags and barrels of flour are often quite valuable and suitable for export or import with caravans; a single barrel of flour can easily be worth more than 200☼. A stack of plants size n produces a bag with n flour and n seeds.
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Dwarven science continues to research improvements in the milling process. Dwarven histories give many examples of new and innovative quern and millstone designs, few of which are reproducible on an industrial scale, as well as elaborate mechanical schemes. Research dwarves continue to predict that the next major advance in flour technology will be a new, advanced foodstuff known as "bread" - some sort of solid beer - but they have been promising to produce this miracle substance for years and have not yet shown any progress.
No self-respecting dwarf (even when motivated by starvation) will lower themselves to eating what promised to be perfectly good beer. Many cunning chefs in the mountainhomes have, however, been known to serve a meal made entirely of the stuff to both haulers and nobles alike, claiming it to be 'masterfully ground' cave wheat. Elven and human traders are similarly duped much to the pleasure of the kitchen staff.