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Why a Grain Mill?

   Here are five reasons why homemakers and nutritionally conscious restaurant owners choose to own a grain mill.

#1 Convenience
    A grain mill does for nutrition what the microwave does for boiling water. It makes whole grain nutrition convenient because grain can be milled into fresh flour in your own kitchen in minutes at the touch of switch.

#2 Nutritional Value
    Try reading ingredients labels on store bought baked goods. You'll find a lot of SOS--Same Old Stuff --enriched flour (from wheat and really depleted, not enriched--having lost on an average 70% of every nutrient), sugar (even corn syrup is sugar), and hydrogenated fats. Refined white flour is a nutritional loser. Freshly milled high fiber nutrient-loaded whole grain flour is a winner.

#3 Flavor and Baking Qualities
    Everyone has experienced the irresistible aroma of freshly baked bread. Yes, we know about experiences people have had with "cardboard" health foods. Attention to recipe development can solve that problem. With specially adapted recipes you can produce light textured whole grain breads.

#4 Variety of Ingredient Choices 
    You can mill whole grains into the kind of fresh flours you can't buy in the supermarket or health food store. The list extends to barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, rice, rye, spelt, triticale, hard wheat, pastry wheat, and even amaranth, kamut® grain, and quinoa.

    You might wonder, "Why would I need to mill grains I have never heard of?" If you've seen our recipes, you'll find combinations of flours unknown in package mixes. That's because with a home grain mill we can experiment with an endless variety of breads, coffee cakes, cookies, cakes, muffins, waffles, and pancakes. In addition the "multi-grain" concept provides opportunity for greater nutritional variety.

#5 Nutritional Variety and Allergy Alternatives 
    Most people think only of milling wheat in a grain mill. After all wheat is the most common flour used in packaged grocery store baked goods and in homemade breads as well, but wheat is also the number two allergen in this country. You'll be able to experiment with allergy alternative grains such as Kamut® grain and spelt which produce yeast breads of quality that equal and exceed that of the common wheats.


CAUTION: BUYER BEWARE

       It was not chemicals and preservatives but ground up bones and chalk that were the common additives in bakers flour during the middle ages. The practice was so prevalent that customers almost automatically associated questionable character and "baker."  What history, after all, does the expression "a baker's dozen" have?  By the 20th and 21st centuries, of course, we've come to accept a slightly different version of the old deception. Today people crave the nutrient depleted fluffy white stuff and consider the real, original whole as the less desirable alternative. 

   Alas, we must report that grain mill manufacturers go in and out of business faster than we can keep our reviews up to date. Consequently, we've reviewed most of them in generic categories with occasional mention of a brand name or manufacturer. Reports come to us of inferior parts being shabbily substituted in machines that were once very durable resulting in great distress, especially for customers purchasing their first mill. They suddenly discover that the standards for product quality that they assume, for example, when purchasing an automobile aren't in place. On the other hand you may purchase a mill known for its excellent quality but marketed by people with unsatisfactory customer relation skills. Thus, one needs to approach purchasing a grain mill as one would go about getting recommendations for a reliable automotive repair garage. What are the customers who've been going back to the same garage again and again saying? Or if they are not, why?

To protect yourself we recommend:

1. If possible purchase your mill from a distributor you know and trust and ask them to give you a personal written guarantee that they will refund your money within 30 days (even if the manufacturer does not) if you are not completely satisfied. If you are not sure about a machine, ask to try a used one before you buy a new one. 

2. Purchase with a credit card. If purchasing from an internet or mail order company, purchase only with a credit card. If a charge appears on your statement before the mill is shipped, call the company. If they do not give you immediate satisfaction (mill or refund) complain to the credit card company and ask them to issue a charge back. Some companies take your money and use it to "float" their business for a while (buy materials, pay the rent, manufacture the product, etc.). This is acceptable for banks but not for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

3. Watch the 30 day satisfaction guarantee time line carefully. A reputable company will work to gain your immediate and complete satisfaction. Don't delay until day 29 to try out your new mill. After 30 days you loose a lot of legal ground.

4. A reputable company strives to maintain its integrity and reputation. One of the best ways for a company to assure immediate satisfaction is through a technical support line (800#) and an instruction manual that walks customers through the initial set up of the mill (or require sales people to do so.)  Your call should be treated with respect, not as a nuisance. Another way is to make this information available on a website so you can read it before you get your machine.

Link to a blogger's experience on grain mills . . . more



Note: SueGreggCookbooks does not market grain mills. We do not accept "free" promotional equipment from manufacturers or distributors. 



Think you have to have a grain mill before you can use whole grains? Think again! We have recipes called "blender batter baking" in which you can use all the whole grains not just wheat. . . . more
                               
                

Which Grain Mill?
    "Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it. All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom."                  
         The Bible, Isaiah 28:28-29 740 BC

    The kind of mill that will best meet your needs depends upon how much baking you do, the size of your family, space in your kitchen, how much dust and noise you are willing to tolerate, and the price you are willing to pay.

Blenders
When we travel overseas we pack a coffee bean mill. Coffee bean mills do a better milling job than blenders but only with small amounts of grain (about 1/2 cup at a time). They are compact, convenient, and inexpensive ($12 to $15).
Cuisinart also puts out a small burr mill (about $50) with a capacity of a little more than a cup.

    A blender can be used to chop dry grains, but most people are not satisfied with the results. Blenders are much better at pureeing and blending in a semisolid or liquid medium.

    You can get a reliable blender such as an Osterizer rated at 450 watts for $30 to $40 at Kmart, Walmart, Lowes, etc. We're very impressed with the new Braun blender. It is rated at 525 watts, is the first blender we've seen to come with safety pins that prevent the blades from being power on unless the bowl is firmly seated. The triangular shaped glass bowl also facilitates better churning action. Order on the internet for about $50.

     Blenders will crack dry grains but leave you frustrated if you want fine flour. Super blenders such as the Vitamix or the blender attachment that comes with a Bosch Kitchen Machine or DLX have more power but, at best, produce coarse flours.

We've created some "blender batter baking" recipes that use  the blender very effectively in preparing waffles, pancakes, muffins, crepes, and coffee cakes with thin batters. The grain is "ground" in a liquid medium, not dry, in this process. See Blender Batter Baking Waffles & Pancakes. . . see recipe     For heavier doughs as in yeast breads, rolls, biscuits, and cookies, however, you have to rely on a flour mill.


Impact Mills
Micronizers, the newest development on the home milling market, were adapted from technology used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce very fine powders. These units come in a compact plastic shell of contemporary design, weigh less than 12 lbs., and are moderately priced (about $140 to $230). 

Micronizers do not "grind" grain. Instead, grain is fed into the center of the unit consisting of a stationary spindle with metal teeth arranged in concentric circles meshed with a facing spindle spinning at 28,000 rpm. Grain is reduced to fine flour in milliseconds as it bounces off the teeth. That is why they are sometimes called "impact mills."

Micronizers must be attended while operating. You must keep the air filters clean and you must not let the flour pan overflow or you will dust your kitchen and overheat the motor in short order. The plastic shell will meltdown if overheated. Definitely not for commercial use. Tiny rocks, an inevitability in all but super cleaned grains, are not friends to micronizer teeth. Their best asset is that they will produce very fine flours very fast. The negative--not for sustained operation.

Unfortunately they whine and they scream. Imagine yourself at an airport as a ground crewman on the tarmac bringing jets to the gate. Manufacturers are attempting to resolve this problem with sound dampeners and by separating the flour pan from the milling unit. The GrainMaster WhisperMill and NutriMill are two such examples.

If you have a small family, don't demand 20 year durability, and can tolerate the noise (get aircraft ear protectors), you may get your money's worth out of this machine. We’ve found that owners either love ‘em or hate ‘em. If you are one of the latter and you demand durability, dependability, quiet, and minimal maintance, you may wish to consider a slow speed stone or burr mill.



HIGH SPEED Stone Mills
     We've milled a lot of flour with various adaptations of high speed electric motors attached to stones. Most are dusty, noisy, and difficult to clean and keep in adjustment.



High speed stone mills come in beautifully crafted wooden cases, cost over $400, and are sold through mail order. They are noisy, dusty, and heavy (50 lbs). You must clean accumulated flour out of the milling chamber. Large models designed for continuous operation will produce flour fast enough to supply a small bakery. 
      Stones need periodic adjustment. Because of the high speed they tend to heat  up and  are limited to milling only very dry grains. If you attempt to mill a grain not  recommended by the manufacturer, you may "gum up" or "glaze" the stones. In spite of their drawbacks, they are still a good buy and the best models will last for years.


INTERMEDIATE SPEED STONE MILL

Intermediate speed stone mills usually avoid the dusting annoyance of high speed stone mills. The ones we have seen come from Germany in beautifully crafted wooden cases manufactured by Schnitzer.




SLOW SPEED STONE MILL
If micronizers are the hares of grain milling machines, a slow speed stone mill is the tortoise. Its best features are its durability, quiet, dust free, low temperature operation. Slow speed means low milling temperatures. A thermometer stuck in the fresh flour hasn't risen above 100 degrees yet. It is the only mill we've seen that drops flour into an open pan. Take a scoop out whenever you like. The stones adjust to produce cracked and fine flours. Its appearance is what one might call "utilitarian." If you are a person who puts covers over toasters, you can dress it up a bit with a decorated cover when not in use. This mill is a major appliance investment (about $400), but you will only buy it once (unless you need a replacement for the one you pass on to your children or grandchildren).

The simplicity of this low tech unit starts with a Dayton split phase 1/4 hp reduction drive electric gear motor.

Two five inch fluted stones attach to the gear unit by a single adjustment knob. Grain drops through a funnel and is fed to the milling stones by a short auger. Flour textures can be adjusted from fine to coarse or cracked for all grains. Fine enough, in fact, for whole wheat Angel Food Cake or white sauce. It doesn't have or need a computer chip, fast or slow speeds, or a digital read out. In short it's just a simple machine that does a simple job very well.

You'll appreciate its virtues as the compact unit quietly drops freshly milled flour into an always accessible pan. Its self-cleaning design minimizes the danger of leaving rancid or stale flour in the milling chamber.

High speed mills are forever threatening to dust the entire kitchen. Not so with this slow speed stone mill. In this day of instant everything some may consider the slow speed (1/2 to 1 cup per minute) a drawback. We have not found that so, because once the grain is measured into the hopper, you can leave it and attend to other tasks. By the time the ingredients are collected, utensils assembled, and the oven turned on preheat, a batch of flour will be ready. Even if the phone calls or the baby needs tending, no harm is done if the mill runs out of grain while your away.

The stones will manage quite nicely with all the dry grains. Don't put oily soybeans into this mill. Your blender will probably do an adequate job on them. (We don't recommend soy products anyway.)

When preparing multi-grain blends, we mix the small grains such as millet in with the larger grains before we mill them. A burr attachment will work for damp grains, beans, and small grains.

For more customer reviews of this machine
.
. . .  see reviews


BURR MILLS & HAND MILLS
Burr mills grind grains between two metal surfaces with raised cutting surfaces. They are available in both hand and powered units. (See Cuisinart above.) 
ChampionMill.jpg (15059 bytes)
We have not reviewed hand mills here (either stone or burr) because we consider all of them inadequate for efficient milling. In short we've concluded that if you baked bread from the flour produced and fed it to a man who was cranking a mill, he would slowly starve to death. (Yes, we actually conducted an experiment at a 10,000 ft. high California Sierra Nevada mountain cabin. After the caloric numbers indicated that he was expending more energy grinding than he was consuming we halted the experiment before his demise.) In the event that you find yourself without electricity for a prolong period of time (portable generators are almost ubiquitous even in Afghanistan), we recommend that you use one of the recipes from our Four Food Storage Plans cookbook to prepare cooked whole grains.
   . . . review book

While stone grinding has an ancient romantic appeal, we see no reason to avoid burr mill flours. We haven't heard of any studies or convincing arguments for the nutritional superiority of stone milled flours. 

The well-known Champion Juicer (about $200) has a burr mill attachment (about $65) which we have found to do a satisfactory milling job at about the same speed and fineness of slow speed stone mills (a pound in four minutes).  You can get a 2 for 1 machine at a price of the cheaper impact mills but with the dust free advantages of a slow speed stone mill. 


For whole grain yeast bread recipes
  . . . more

For information on the Two Stage Process to enhance nutrients in grains and beans  . . . more

Go to a listing of grain mill distributors
. . . more


Here is a YouTube video of a Grinding 1,000 lbs of Grain for 9.5 Hours -- Run Continuously in the WonderMill Electric:   

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmE0Bmid9o4

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