The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

tell me about your flour mill...

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trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

tell me about your flour mill...

I keep noting the folks on here that are milling their own flour from whole grains. I have never tried it and would like to get my feet wet. What did you buy ? Do you like it or do you have misgivings and think you would prefer another one ? A general overview and  review would be great and help me make a selection. Any tips and advice would be much appreciated. 

As an additional piece  of info where do you get the grains you mill ?  Online or local ? Thanks in advance. c

Comments

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm interested in the answers to these questions too.

David

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

...a few years back. Am I wrong?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You are correct.

The KA attachment is good for milling small amounts and if you don't need finely milled flour.

David

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

The finest texture that I can achieve with my KA mill is still more of a fine meal than a coarse flour.  It produces cracked grains and meals readily, but not flours. 

Paul

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hi, caroline

I own a small german electric stone mill: Hawos - easy. Similar mills go by another name, i believe, such as wolfgang. The stone mill allows for a coarse milling as well as fine, and the motor is very reliable. The machine's engine has a lifetime warranty, unless you use it commercialy (5 years in this case).

Although my mill does not produce extremely fine flour on the first pass, even on the finest setting, it will produce very fine flour when grains are reduced to cracked wheat then ground to flour for a second pass.

The price of my end of the range mill was $400 give or take. Athough it requires cleaning after the job is done, it have learned to overcome the trouble by doing a final passing of wheat on very corase, which expells most of the flour adhering to the stones, and chute. The mill's hopper takes 250g of grains at a time, but i mill 1-2 kg of wheat at a time with no issues.

I've been milling with the machine for 3 years now, and I'm quite content with its performance.

-Khalid

 

qahtan's picture
qahtan

I use a mill that fits to my English machine (Kenwood) Have had both many years. I use the mill to grind

 whole wheat flour, buying the hard wheat berries from our local health food store, I find it best to put through the mill twice.

 I some times also grind other grains loosely.

Bread made with fresh ground whole wheat flour is far better than any bought whole wheat flour.  qahtan

 

 

proth5's picture
proth5

that I use a Diamant hand turned mill, and I love it?  Of course you have.

I bought it on eBay - before the dollar cratered - and it was a bargain.

I do love it - it can grind just about any grain to whatever fineness I desire.  It is a great upper body and aerobic workout - but not too much for this little old lady.  I have zero regrets.  This is a mill that will take your milling in any direction that you want to take - as long as you have the will to do it.

I get my grains on line - mostly because I have more time to devote to internet activities when I am travelling (which is constantly) than for retail activities when I am home.

If I were in the market for a hand turned mill today, i would give the Grainmaker a serious look.  It looks like a very nice machine, but had not been developed to the point of the Diamant when I bought my mill.  I still might have gone with the Diamant - to my eyes it is so beautiful that I might be seduced by that over functionality - which is only marginally better in the Grainmaker to my mind.

I also own a Komo Fidibus 21 - also bought at a bargain price.  I anticipate buying a micronizer mill in the future for reasons that are somewhat nebulous and have nothing to do with the Diamant being lacking in any way.

Unfortunately, I have not yet milled on the Komo - even the best plans in life yield to some realities, but I will be working with it in the future.  I expect it will be as good as all the reviews that I have heard/read.

Hand milling is a decision that you make - just like getting a dog or building a koi pond. It is a lot of work and sticking with it takes dedication. You will not find a decent hand mill at a bargain price.  When the apocalypse comes and there is no power, you will be worrying about other things than milling grain.  You can't flee with these weighty mills.  So for the group of folks who see a hand mill as a "survivalist" tool - I shake my head.  It is a thing you want to do for the thing itself.

Hope this helps.

Pat

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

i use a Krup's coffee mill to grind flour.  We got two of them 26 years ago as wedding presents.  I burned one up not too long ago making flour for a couple of loaves.  Since I only bake one loaf of bread a week I only need at most 400 g of flour.  I grind 100 g at a time and make 4 passes for each of the 100g.  Each pass is about 30 seconds so the grain doesn't heat up and I sift it after each pass to take off the flour that will pass and make the next 30 second grinding easier on the mill.  When I get to 75% extraction it's done. It'sthe sifting that takes forever, gets everywhere and then there is that 10 G that just disappears.  I think it too can cause mesothieloma (SP?) so be warned.  But clean up is a breeze. 

You don't get fine flour but I have found that fine flour isn't needed for any of the kind of breads I make.   If i was going to buy a mill it would be the one David has for his KA or the Nutrimill when on sale for $239.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

David I hope more answer this question as I know there are more out there :)

khalid..thank you I looked up the Wolfgang...very nice looking machine. I didn't realize just how pricey they are but given the quality and the assurance of a better product it is worth it. Thanks for your report. 

qahtan..thank you I have as david does a KA but had already decided against a mill attachment as they are not all that great...but then the price is right so you never know. 

proth..thanks for the referrals and reviews. I looked up the Grainmaker...very spendy depending on the size one gets. I am going to look at all of these and see if any others chime in. Do you have your hand grinder attached firmly to a wood board/table...what ? I was reading on another place the other day and the reviews stated that the hand grinder is not possible to use unless screwed to a big heavy table. Would like to know if you find that so. What size would you get for the Grainmaker were you getting one ? c

proth5's picture
proth5

let's chat a bit about hand milling.

Hopper size on the mill is meaningless.  Unless you are very strong and fit, you will be stopping your milling to rest from time to time - you can re fill the hopper then as a change of pace.

Actual size of the mill does matter. Yes, I ruthlessly drilled through a hard maple tabletop to bolt down my Diamant.  No regrets.  Whatever manual mill you choose, you will need to find a place where that thing will live.  In the case of the Diamant, it weighs something over 80 pounds and is cast iron.  You will not be moving it - it is too heavy and too "fragile" (a relative term - the sucker is cast iron, but the tragedy quotient of losing a flywheel because you were hauling it about is pretty high - so I treat the thing as "fragile")  So, you need to consider where you will put the thing and how much it will get in your way if you never move it.

Burr size does matter, the bigger the burr the faster the "theoretical" speed of milling.  But a 5 inch burr is plenty for most home millers.  Burr size only raises potential - you are the motor, so the speed of milling depends on you.

And notice that both the Grainmaker and the Diamant have steel burrs.  There are some millers (and some bakers, like someone whose name I will not mention) that give mystical import to grinding on stones.  If this matters to you neither of these mills is a good choice.  And trust me, let's get over the "heating while grinding" issue with any hand mill - you cannot crank fast enough - the flour comes off the mill quite cool.

Yes, these good hand mills are pricey.  But, you get what you pay for.  If I had to make the decision today, I would agonize greatly over the various features, flywheel weight (which also matters), cost and size and then probably end up with 99 - because it would fit better - or then again...  I might get rid of decorative elements in my house and get the big one because - well, you know...   I really, really agonized over the purchase of the Diamant and what's done is done - I am loathe to put myself through that agony again.

Although I don't want to discourage hand milling, these babies are pricey, heavy, and take your energy.  You can do better with a motorized mill of almost any size in terms of output and price. But they don't have the "romance" or "Old - timey" appeal - which is certain situations does matter.(Making the motorizing kit on the Grainmaker a nice middle ground, but putting the price tag into the "ouch!" category.)  It also means you are much, much more involved in the production of your flour.  Again, if you just want to have fresh milled flour for home use, I would encourage you to look at quality electric mills like the Wolfgang or the Komo and give them serious consideration before spending money on one (try the Pleasant Hill Grain "clearance" area.)

Again, the reasons behind the proliferation of mills in my home has nothing to do with any perceived shortages in the Diamant.  Not sure that I would feel that way with a mixer mill attachment - the price is only right if you buy once and don't have to buy something else when what you bought was not good enough.  If you are as happy with your mill choice as I am with mine, you have chosen well.

Hope this helps.

Pat

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

You had me with the romance of the old timey hand crank...I live in an 1890 home...but ...I have no place for something that size or of that consequence....too bad...it appeals to me on all levels. I will look at the pleasant hill sale space and keep an eye out and that is the direction I shall take. We are not talking a huge amount of milling...I do bake for the farmer's market but...I have sadly discovered that most folks in this area of AL like their soft, commercial yeast raised breads that can be sliced easily and aren't "tough " and " full of holes " !!  sigh....So I shall post again when I have gotten my feet wet . Thank you all for your info. and I am glad both you and khalid agree on the wolfgang. c 

proth5's picture
proth5

I know what you mean about those odd bread consumers.

I am helping out a friend while he gets his life together - a good old Southern boy - who only wants pure white soft textured bread.  If he even suspects that I have snuck in whole grain he will not touch it.

Of course, he also finds it exhausting to slice the bread - so it has to be pre sliced and bagged or he will buy the supermarket loaves.

A baguette?  No way - even freshly baked it is just too" hard".  Messes with my mind, it does...

:>)

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Lee Household Flour Mill

I've owned and used this mill on a regular basis for about 4 years (I've been milling my own flour for 20+ years and have used a number of mills). Available in USA primarily. Retails at $550 and up (depending on model) but available at times on eBay at significantly reduced prices. I purchased mine on eBay, as have many TFL members who have posted about this mill. Used mills typically sell from $200 - $250 depending on model and condition.

Description: electric grain mill designed to mill flour in a single pass. Will mill wheat (hard or soft), rye, spelt, triticale, hulled oats, pearled barley, buckwheat, rice. All models will mill popcorn and the S500 & S600 will mill the larger dent/field corn. Hopper capacity is about 4 pounds of wheat or similar size grain.

Pros: Creates a very fine flour with excellent baking properties in a single pass. Excellent rugged, precision construction with a reputation of lasting (without repair) for 2 or 3 generations of normal use. Uses a stationary stone ring to mill grain, which means it does not require close monitoring like a traditional mill with a fixed groved plate and rotating groved plate. Adjustable models allow for continuous adjustment for degrees of coarser flour up to cracked grain.

Cons: Requires cleaning after every use. Cannot mill beans or oily seeds such as flax or sesame (a limitation of many mills). Cannot mill very small grain such as millet. Not suitable for making your own high extraction flour as it is designed for single pass milling only.

TFL has a long thread on this mill with excellent comments on use, performance, cleaning instructions and more by actual owners. For more information, follow this TFL link -

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/13634/lee-household-flour-mill

risenshine's picture
risenshine

New Owner - 38 year old mill. Well ok.. the owner is older than the mill.

I am new at milling my own flour. What turned the tide for me is making whole wheat tortillas with stale flour.. YUCK! After reading that whole wheat is not really the whole wheat, I said that just from a nutritional reason, I want to start grinding my own.

I bought this unit used and got it only yesterday. It needed a good cleaning because it has sat unused, since 1987. I'm an aircraft mechanic and recognize high quality materials and engineering. These mills are amazing how robust they are made. It cleaned up looking just like new because it is either heavy aluminum castings, or stainless steel parts.(mostly not all). You would never guess it is this old.

I want to do a video on how it operates. It uses a very high speed centrifugal action to press the incoming grain against the stationary carborundum stone. It is a man made stone from silicon carbide which can only be cut with diamond hard cutters. Very hard surface. The company says they will last the life of the unit and not wear out. (if you don't drop it) New stones are about $175.

The centrifugal action of the propeller also creates a vacuum that pulls lots of air through the grinding chamber and keeps the chamber cool. the temp of the flour was 90 degrees when finished. This keeps surfaces cool and blows the grain into the exit chute through an adjustable ring from very fine to coarse.

What is interesting is how the feed system works. That spinning plate (propeller) that pushes the grain around, self adjusts the size of the feed opening out of the hopper. When the chamber is full it closes up and puts more load on the motor, slowing it down... as it grinds, the speed increases opening the passage to allow more grain to enter. It makes for a very consistent feed and flour consistency.

I did not have the size set to the finest setting and did not think it would make much difference (one or two "clicks" from the finest setting". When cleaning the mill, I noticed that it would have been significantly finer if it was set to it's finest setting.  The company also makes milling machines as in tool and die. The Lee mills seem to be build and engineered with this same precision.

Cleaning is not that bad. Mine came with a bottle brush so I could clean the chute and other places with a single pass. I want to get a small, long bristle paint brush to get into some of the other areas...

I'm going to make bread tomorrow... It was tortillas last night for something quick to make and they were very tasty!

I think I've found a new love! :)

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

more info with good review. I appreciate you sharing your milling experience subfuscpers. I will look at the thread you linked. I haven't really studied the idea of extraction so not sure how important that will be to me. I am glad so many varied experiences have chimed in. c