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help with choosing a mill please!

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happy's picture
happy

help with choosing a mill please!

Please help me I am rippign my hair out and need to buy SOMETHING

 

I know there is info scattered about this somewhere but I cannot find what I need still. 

I need to grind flour as I bake my own bread.

If I am going to buy something mroe expensive I want something that can mill other stuff as well. 

I preffer a natrual stone mill as to avoid metals when I can, but I understand that I would have to have a burr attachment as well for other things. That is ok. 

 

I HAVE TO HAVE IT MOTORIZED :) 

 

Ive looked at the Retzel - not natural stone

I looked that the the wonder junior delux - hand cranked :( 

Hawos and other similar looking mills - has a box where flour can sit and bugs can get it  ughghg, plus it does only flour right? no nut butteres etc. 

I looked atht eh family grain mill - burrs right? and at the kitchen aid attachemnt - the best so far since the do lots of things right? are not extremely expensive

 

 

proth5's picture
proth5

zillions of reviews of many mills.  Some reviwers are better than others.  Two sites I would trust are:

http://www.breadtopia.com/2010/06/30/grain-mill-review/ and

http://www.grainmillcomparison.com/ - this one is more focused on manual mills.

A lot of reviewers (and users - myself included) are sceptical about claims that mills make on nut butters.  I personally would not put nuts through my mill (even though there are claims it can mill oily things) as the ensuing cleanup would be significant.  Nut butters are probably better made through other means (like a food processor).

Natural stone may be hard to find in smaller mills.

Please take into account the amount you will be milling as you select your mill - some of the mixer attachments are not all that good for large volumes.

There is no such thing as the perfect mill - you just need to find the best for you.  I own a Diamant - which now retails at an eye popping price - so few people consider it and it does have metal burrs.  However, if you want to discuss its merits, I would be happy to do it.

Hope this helps.

happy's picture
happy

I looked into the Retsel because it have the two style of burrs so it can mill "most" things between the two. But was concerned about the stones not bein natural and having "stuff" in them that may not be so great. 

 

The second link has only hand crancked mills... are there other place that review more of the different mills that are motorized?

 

 

Crider's picture
Crider

All of the consumer-grade stone mills have artificial stones. The cheapest mill with stones you can get in the US is the 8" Meadows at $2200 or so. I once ran across a couple of Indian 6" mills, but they weren't sold in the US and had 50hz/240 volt motors.

proth5's picture
proth5

know of other sites that I put a lot of stock in.  I'm sure you can type various phrases into your favorite search engine to get "grain mill reviews" or "grain mill comparisons"

Some of the manual mills (like the Country Living and the Diamant) can be motorized.  Lehman's now sells a motorizing kit for the Country Living mill (as well as the mill itself.)

As mentioneed in the other response post - natural stone will be hard to find in smaller mills.  I respect your aversion to metal as something you hold dear, but in terms of producing flour - I find that my metal burrs can grind as well as any stone.

Synthetic stones have proved very serviceable for most people.  Again,  I can respect your feeling on things that are "not so great" whatever that means to you - but in terms of just milling grain to flour they are fine and probably more accesible.

Pleasant Hill Grain might also be a good source to discuss mills.  They sell an 8inch Meadows mill with natural stones.  This is a commercial mill, though, with an appropriate price.

Hope this helps and happy milling!

 

happy's picture
happy

what would you say the difference between the stone and metal burrs. I'm wondering if i really need a stone one if the metal burrs do the same thing.

 

In the end, whatever I mill with will be healthier than store bought flour :) 

 

Thanks for your help

proth5's picture
proth5

of the writings on the topic of stone vs metal milling are comparing stone grinding to "roller milling."  Roller milling is what is used commercially to create white flours and is at its heart passing grain over a series of corrugated rollers - each set with its own pattern and spacing.  It essentially separates the components of the grain as it mills.  There is an ongoing discussion about the virtues of "whole kernal" milling - where all parts of the grain stay together duringthe entire milling process - which must be done on stones or steel burrs.  Very few folks think in terms of steel burr milling - they seem to divide the world between stone and roller milling.

Steel burrs are very similar to stone except - well - they are steel.  They can survive a small stone in the grain a bit better (although we never, ever want a small stone in our grain) and do have a reputation of being able to grind oily grains and nuts (although, as I said earlier, I have no enthusiasm for grinding anything but grains in my mill.) 

Most motorized mills have stone or synthetic stone burrs.  The Diamant and the Country Living mills (amoung others) have steel burrs.  I assure you that I can mill a very fine flour with my Diamant - as fine or finer than commercial roller milled.

I've talked to the millers at Heartland mills about stone vs steel burr milling.  They feel that the stone has properties that make bran separation a little cleaner allowing them to mill very finely in a single mill pass and yet get big flakes of bran.  I mill with mutiple passes to get a good separation of the bran - and because I have a hand turned mill, multiple passes are just easier to do.  The Heartland millers do not favor tempering for the grain that they mill on stone - even when they sift it to remove some of the bran.  I have found that tempering is useful.  If you are milling only whole grain flour this won't be a concern for you.

Some say that stone mills cooler - but I'm not wading into that controversy, because it is one.  There are many factors that control the temperature out of the mill.

I also won't wade into "healthier" or not.  Milling at home produces a "fresher" flour and this has good points (taste, for example) and its not so good points (not gaining the advantages of aging unless you want to sacrifice the flavor). I find it to be a satisfying process that I enjoy doing and that is the sole reason I mill at home - so I can't speak to anything else.

Hope this helps and happy milling!

happy's picture
happy

wow tahnk you. Very informative what you have shared. 

So based on what you have said, it does not make too much sense to get both steel and stone burrs from Retzel - for example. 

(Iwas looking at this mill because its price is lower it seems than other mills.)

proth5's picture
proth5

I'm not familiar with the Retsel burrs - the steel ones are probably fine, though.  The question you must ask yourself is if you might want to variety that comes from having different sets of burrs.  I think if stone burrs were available for my mill I would get them - just to add another variable into the process.

I've found that milling is a very absorbing hobby in and of itself and you must ask how much time, money and effort you want to put into it and draw conclusions for yourself.

Good luck with your decision.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

It probably doesn't make sense for you, since you are buying a motorized mill and want to also mill things other than grain.  With my Wonder Mill Junior I could not mill grain with the steel burrs.  It was like riding a bicycle on a gravel road, going bump-bump-bump-bump as the grains broke apart.  The stone burrs performed smoothly for me.  Perhaps for a stronger person the difference would not have been noticeable, and of course with a motor it won't matter at all.

 

Jn6-35's picture
Jn6-35

Hello---I'm new to this site, but noticed this topic on selecting a grain mill so I wanted to join in with some of the info I have found.

A good web site is Onlygrainmills.com.  

They have demo "comparison" videos (comparing time, coarseness/fineness, noise level, etc.   They also have some manufacturers' videos.  The ones from the KoMo company are really good.

I was originally looking at the Family Grain Mill system (the motorized option), but grew concerned about the coarseness of the grind causing problems with my new Zoji Virtuoso (their manual says to be wary of using too coarse of a grind).   You can makd another "pass" with the Family Grain Mill, but that's extra effort and time, it is slow (to begin with) and the flour still comes out fairly coarse (as evaluated on the demo videos at Only Grain Mills.

I looked at some of the super electric models, but reading review from many places left me with a lot of concerns about performance, flour dust everywhere, cleaning the machine, itself, and technical skills, which are, in my case, seriously lacking  :-(   

I think I'm leaning towards the KoMo Fidibus 21.  It is the smallest of their systems but while I bakc bread nearly every other day, I am perfectly happy grinding up just the amount of flour I need each time.  The main problem with the KoMo is the price---this, their smallest model sells pretty consistently for $399---which is really steep.   However, the products are made by hand in a small solar powered "factory" in rural Germany and are (or seem to be) of exceptional quality.   Then, too, the KoMos look beautiful (they are made of wood, or wood and stainless steel).   They do use stone grinders which some people object to.

I'm so excited about grinding my own whole grain flours.   I love adding large quantities of whole wheat flour to any recipe calling for regular bread flour;  although I'm an extreme novice at bread baking, I have been modifying recipes to add much higher percentages of whole wheat and they have turned out beautifully.   And I also love making 100% whole wheat loaves.   

I ordered a book on the subject of home milling which looks to be a very detailed and technical (but understandable) manual for "beginners" and maybe even for more advanced home bakers/millers.   The book is called Flour Power:  A Guide to Modern Home Grain Milling.  Reviews of the book indicate that it has a lot of information about how to choose a mill for your particular needs, different types of mills, performance issues, etc.    The web site I mentioned at Only Grain Mills also has similar information, but much less detailed.

I'd be very interested if anyone has experience with the KoMo  Fidibus 21 or any of their other products.    

Blessings,

Liz

shastaflour's picture
shastaflour

Do be cautious of the KA flour mill. It tends to put a lot of stress on the mixer, and I've heard many horror stories of mixers burning out while the mill attachment was in use. Extra care would be necessary especially if you were using it for larger quantities of flour.

You might want to do a little research on the All-Grain Mill. I believe it uses stones, and they pop up on eBay every once in a while. (As I write, there are two of them up. Here's an example: http://www.ebay.com/itm/ALL-GRAIN-A-22-Corn-Wheat-Mill-Grinder-FLOUR-LIKE-MAGIC-/261073585095?pt=Small_Kitchen_Appliances_US&hash=item3cc932c3c7.)

They are still made, by the way. I believe this is the company's website: http://www.allgrainmills.com/home.html

Here is a useful related thread from TFL: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15626/just-boughtgtgtgtallgrain-flour-mill-a33.

Hope that is helpful! We actually use a Country Living Grain Mill. It does a stellar job, but the standard version certainly doesn't come with its own power and it does use burrs. (Sometimes I do wish we were electric!)

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

The "box" on the Hawos-style mills do not fill up with flour.  Very little of that box is in contact with the flour, being mostly a housing for the motor.  The milling chamber is easily accessed if you insist on cleaning it completely in between sessions.  Most people just stuff something in the nozzle to discourage pests.  I use a clean cotton handkerchief.  I live in a rural house and have plenty of insects and other pests, but nothing has ever infested my Tribest Wolfgang mill.  For a picture of the inside, try:

http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/KoMo_grain_mill_wolfgang_flour_mill_grinder_mills.aspx

However, as you have pointed out, that style of mill will not make nut butters.  Perhaps if you are not planning on milling a lot of grain, you should look into a Vitamix.  The Vitamix supposedly does both things.  I have not used my older model stainless steel Vitamix for making nut butters, but I have used it to make apple, tomatillo, and tomato sauces from scratch.  It does that very well, and has a spout for filling jars which newer Vitamixers lack.  I have milled grain with my Vitamix, but I much prefer my Tribest Wolfgang for that.  Sometimes it is better to use two well-designed single-purpose tools rather than one tool that does neither thing particularly well, or that costs almost as much as the two together by the time you buy all the required attachments.

 

Crider's picture
Crider

At least if you're in the US. I have a hand-cranked Retsel which I motorized (at great expense). I got the steel burrs also and never use them. I also have a genuine Corona which I use for nut butters and wet grinding, such as nixtimalized corn for tortillas. 

John K.'s picture
John K.

I have read several reviews which claim the Corona is almost worthless for milling wheat for bread. I am wondering whether you second this opinion, and if so, whether this also applies to soft wheat. I would like to get into milling but would prefer to start with something inexpensive like the Corona.

Crider's picture
Crider

That's what I said. Retsel for making flour, Corona for wet grinding.

I wouldn't recommend the Corona for flour milling, though Retsel does sell actual stones for the Corona to replace the steel burrs and I haven't tried that. 

Crider's picture
Crider

I soaked the wheat berries for 24 hours and then ran them through the corona. They were very soft. I added just a little bit of water to the dough. The loaf was pretty dense, though it tasted great. I guess that's worthy of more experimentation!

happy's picture
happy

Is it hard to turn the cranck when you make nut butter? Do you make flax in the corona as well?

 

It's not that expensive and might be worth getting for those other jobs the stones don't do. 

Crider's picture
Crider

Never did flax, though I don't think it's very hard. I recently did some cornmeal in the Corona because I just needed enough to use for  Jewish Rye loaf. 

Nut butters are fairly easy. I did some hummus. Toasted the sesame seeds and put them straight into the Corona. After that, I ran the cooked chickpeas through it too. I've also used it with soaked chickpeas on a coarse grind for making falafels and use it it to make fresh besan or gram for Indian food after soaking the chickpeas for 8 hours or so.

One word about using a genuine Corona. I got a (also genuine) Victoria grain mill super cheap on eBay last year and although they're nearly identical to the Corona, their grinding wheels are for a coarser grind, such as for tamale masa or grinding barley for beer making. Corona's wheels are milled down a bit before they're plated. Hard to explain, but there's a few photos.

 
Victoria wheel. Casting is almost identical to the Corona wheel.

 
Victoria wheels up close.

 
Corona wheels up close. One can get a finer grind.

Also, there's a lot of fake knock-offs out there, some of them are even painted silver rather than hot-dip tin plated and they're usually sold at a very low price. Amazon even sells a mill they call Corona Grinder, Molino Traditional which is in reality a "Mi Pueblo" cheap knockoff. There's the Grizzly, Weston, unnamed but with the number '500' cast on the side, Universal (the new ones) — all junk. Buyer beware.

happy's picture
happy

Ooo so they don't really cost 30 bucks like I saw..........a knockoff i guess :( Thanks for the warning

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

The problem that I perceive with Corona mills is not that they cannot crush hard grains.  They can.  I have used my Corona mill to crush both barley malt and hard wheat.  The problem with Corona mills is the fineness of the product.  The surfaces which do the crushing are not appropriate for milling flour.  You can make cracked wheat in one, but not flour.  It is possible that the act of crushing soft wheat may incidentally produce more fine material than the act of crushing hard wheat, but you cannot grind true flour with a Corona mill.

happy's picture
happy

can you use the corona for milling flax? Since I wouldn't want to use a stone mill for that. 

Is it hard to make the flax? 

Is it hard to make the nut butter and do they come out like store bought?

 

by hard I mean is it terrible to turn the cranck

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I've never made nut butters, but I cheat with the flax.  I put the flax seeds in with my other grains and stir them together well.  Then the flax does not jam the stone burrs.  I mill 1 tbsp of flax with 1/3 cup of oats every morning.  You need to make sure the flax is mixed in, though.  One time I dumped the grain into the mill with the flax sitting on the bottom of the feed hopper, thinking that the flax would be flushed through by the following oats, and I had to take the mill apart.

John K.'s picture
John K.

I wonder how bread would turn out if made from soft wheat milled in a Corona?

shastaflour's picture
shastaflour

...as soft wheat won't give you the gluten you need for a good bread structure and rise. I do wonder how hard wheat would do if milled in multiple passes through the Corona, though. Does anyone know?

John K.'s picture
John K.

I've actually been reading Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery and she claims there that the preference for hard wheat with its relatively higher gluten has as much to do with fashion and politics as anything, pointing out that for centuries bakers used the native locally-grown soft wheat for bread. But I am also wondering how bread would turn out if made with more coarsely ground wheat, like that produced by the Corona.

John K.'s picture
John K.

And again, part of the reason I'm interested in this question is I'd like to experiment with milling but would like to start off cheaply, but on the other hand would rather not even spend the $50 for a Corona if the wheat milled from it can't make bread, or can only make horrible bread. (Obviously there are recipes for cracked wheat bread, but these include a large proportion of finely ground flour.)

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Look at it this way.  If you aren't able to get flour fine enough to make decent bread by passing the courser bits through the Corona mill multiple times, then at least you will have a mill that can make good cracked grain for cereal.  This is something that the more expensive flour mills sometimes have difficulty doing well.  The cost of the Corona mill is low and if you are not happy you can then buy a different, slightly less cheap, mill for flour.

Do you by any chance already own an electric coffee grinder?  You can grind wheat in those, in small portions.  It just takes patience.

Crider's picture
Crider

To quantify just how inefficient the Corona is for making flour from wheat. I weighed out 150 grams of hard red winter wheat, adjusted the Corona's burrs for a very close grind, and ran it through. Effort was very hard, even more so than making straight cornmeal from field corn. After milling the wheat I sifted it through a #50 screen and got only 27 grams of flour. 

I took the remainder of the wheat and ran it through again. Effort was much less this time. After sifting, I got 33 grams. 

So that's only 60 grams out of 150 grams and with two passes. A Corona is fine for such things as making Essene and Ezekiel bread from sprouted, wet wheat, but it does not produce flour very well.

That said, I love my Corona and use it often — just not for making flour.

loydb's picture
loydb

The Retsel is awesome. I use the steel wheels for corn, and the stone wheels for grains. They take awhile to ship (especially if you want a specific color), but they're built like a tank. I have the motorized version -- I'll convert it to hand-crank at some point in the dystopian future where mutants roam the land.

 

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

You mentioned the Hawos mill in your list at the beginning of your post.   I have a KoMo which is very similar to the Hawos.  I use it multiple times a day and have never had a problem with bug infestations.  I also clean it out after use which is very simple.  Nowhere else for flour to sit and attract insects.

I don't know the volume you intend to mill or frequency.  My second mill was a NutraMill and it was great for large quantities of grain but a hassle to use for my smaller leaven amounts due to how it has to be taken apart.  It will handle all sorts of grains but not oil seeds.  It is limited in the coarseness of grain it will mill.  All is more or less fine four.

The KoMo will handle the same variety of grains that the NutraMill did.  Larger beans need to be milled a couple of times to get to the fine stage.  It's hopper will hold 1000g of grain.  It is my favorite mill to date due to it's capacity to mill on many different settings, the ease with which I can clean it, it is quieter than the other mills I owned (I have never had a hand mill so can't compare how loud my groans would be to an electric motor :-), it is easy to take apart and clean when I do a 'deep' cleaning every once in awhile, it is constructed very well and it looks 'pretty' sitting out on my counter - like a piece of classic furniture....  So easy to pop a small amount of grain in for a leaven feed and to have it instantly ready.

What I have found here is that there are a lot of good products available and I have just had to do what you are doing - asking questions and ultimately making a decision and then finding out for myself.  We all have our own preferences and what works for one may not work for someone else....but it is all fun to do :-)

Good Luck

Janet

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Happy,  I am not sure what you intend to mill, I only mill wheat and rye berries, but you can usually find a high quality powered stone mill on ebay for a few hundred dollars plus shipping.  All Grain Flour Mill,  Excalibur , Magic Mill,  Marathon Uni Mill Great Northern are a few of the names to search for.  Most of them are just an induction electric motor ( which is better and lasts longer than the more common universal electric motor ) attached to a round stone, with another round stone that is fixed, and a method to let you adjust the space between the stons.   Ideally, you would want the seller to actually grind some berries to make sure it is working before you bid on it ,  though if you can get pictures of  both stones to make sure they are not broken, and it turns when it is plugged in, it will probably work okay.  If you go through ebay, look a various items with the same name, using the completed search as well, to see what it is supposed to come with. Most originally had a hopper or some sort for getting the berries to fall into the grinding stones, and a pan or a bag to catch the milled flour, though those items may be missing.   While they are pretty heavy, and take up some room, they can probably mill most anything you want milled.  

Ju-Ju-Beads's picture
Ju-Ju-Beads

Now, granted, I have little basis for comparison, but be sure to look at the Golden Grain Grinder before you purchase.  I've only had mine a few happy months but my mom has been using hers at least weekly since the mid-70's and it's still going strong.  The only change in the mill since she bought hers is that now the stone wheels have steel burrs to crack the grain before grinding, which I understand helps prevent glazing.  It isn't well advertised and the company web site could use updating but there is much to be said for a simple, powerful, reassuringly enduring product that doesn't need a lot of hype.  

 

Their webmaster evidently messed up the spelling, so the site is: www.goldengraingrinders.com  (pleural, rather than singular.)

The phone number is (208) 326-4084--it was on the shipping box. I've never had any trouble reaching them and they even stayed on the phone and walked my mother thru a part replacement last month rather than having her ship it back to them, saving her shipping costs as well as time and repair cost.

Ju-Ju-Beads's picture
Ju-Ju-Beads

What you wantisthe golden grain grinder go to goldengraingrinders.com   It grinds everything. Made just like always. My mothers is 38yrs old daily used (Farmers market,etc,etc) and still runs great.  I expect to mill till the day  I die .  $600 very well spent!  My husbandiscurrently really loving freshly ground grits.

Jn6-35's picture
Jn6-35

Gosh, Ju-Ju, that grinder sounds really top of the line---and not to mention durable if your mother's lasted 38 years!!   $600 is a bit outside of my price range (!), but I'll bet that mill does just about everything!    I'll go check it out on the golden grains website anyway....just to LOOK at it at least!!   

Blessings