The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

VitaMix

Cooking202's picture
Cooking202

VitaMix

I have been given a VitaMix and wondered if any of you guys have one and if you have ever used it for grinding flour.  There are instructions, but I'm a bit sceptical.  Any comments, pro or con would be appreciated.

Carol 

baltochef's picture
baltochef

I am a chef and I own a Vita-Mix Vita-Prep 3 which I not only cherish beyond belief, but use for all manner of tasks in my home kitchen..

Like any tool that people use for multi-tasking the Vita-Mix blenders can be used for tasks that they are less than suited for..One of these tasks is grinding grains..While the Vita-Mix will grind grains, it does so at the constant risk of overheating the grains due to the combination of very high rpm's, the resistance of the grains to grinding, and the length of time necessary to evenly grind grains in a blender..Overheating the grains during the grinding process results in excess oxidation which speeds up the process of the oils in the grains turning rancid..This is not too big a deal unless one exceeds 120F..Above 120F, most enzymes, and certain other nutrients start to rapidly lose their value to the human digestive system..Also, the fats in grains start to oxidize quickly..

In using a powerful blender such as a Vita-Mix to grind grains one needs to understand implicity how a blender works..

All blenders, regardless of how powerful their motor's are, were designed to do one thing initially and that was to blend liquids..Blenders accomplish this by creating a vortex in the liquid that is in the carafe..They do this by the movement that their rapidly spinning blades create as they turn at approximately 35,000 rpm..When you think vortex, think miniature tornado within the liquid in the carafe..The vortex will pull all material suspended within the liquid in the carafe into the vortex, and down into contact with the blades..Regardless of where within the carafe the material is residing at the time the motor is turned on, and the vortex created..

Dry mixes, such as grains, create less than optimum vortexes which makes the task of grinding them evenly into flour that much harder..Foods close to the walls of the carafe tend to NOT be pulled into the vortex, thus escaping being reduced in size..Stopping often to scrape down the carafe is sometimes required in order to obtain an even grind..

A blender's blades DO NOT cut, as a knife does, they smash foods into smaller sizes through brute force..Think sledgehammer instead of chef's knife..

As the suspended material within the vortex is smashed into smaller and smaller pieces from constant repetitive contact with the blades, the mixture within the carafe becomes thicker and thicker..At some point, all materials in the suspension create a maximum thickness that is the result of a minimum obtainable particle size..The more liquid the medium that the particles are suspended in, the smaller the obtainable particle size, up to a point..This varies depending upon the material being reduced in size, as well as the type of medium that the material is suspended in..

While the foods in a blender are being broken into smaller and smaller pieces, there is a considerable amount of heat being generated due to the brute force method by which blenders operate..The more powerful the blender, the more heat generated, and the faster the heat is generated..Generally speaking the thicker the mixture being blended, the more heat is generated..

Things like grains (that one wishes to grind into flours), and nuts and seeds (that one wishes to make into butters) are generally worked in a blender dry without the use of a liquid medium..This means that if the cook does not want flours and butters to overheat from the process of grinding them that he / she must keep close tabs on the process of grinding them with an accurate thermometer..Due to the high speeds that Vita-Mix blenders operate at there is usually a very narrow window of time between not overheating and overheating such mixtures..

Many people have used their Vita-Mix blenders to grind grains..Just work in small batches, and stop frequently to allow the mixture to cool down, and you will be fine..

Bruce

 

Cooking202's picture
Cooking202

Bruce, thanks so much for the incredible information and advice. 

Carol

joe_n's picture
joe_n

I "mill" whole rice grains by grinding raw whole sweet brown rice grain in the wet container for use in pasta:

1.  Wash the grain until water runs clear.  2.  Soak the grain overnight.

3.  Drain and rinse the grain.

4. Load the wet container with the grain and water so that the top of the water is about

twice the height (or a little less) of the grain level in the container.

5.  Blend at HIGH for about 2 min:  Start at 0 and turn up quickly to 10. 

6.  Pour the entire mixture into a glass jar and seal with a lid. 

Put it into the refrigerator to let the solids settle out.

The water at the top is poured off day by day and used, say  in soup.

7.  When the solids are fairly thick (about 2 days),  mix with whole wheat flour and knead the mixture into a pasta dough. 

Add water or flour as needed.

-- Right now I am soaking raw wholegrain buckwheat with a little lemon juice, as is suggested,

to make  Japanese soba noodles for thise weekend.  The ratio of buckwheat to wheat is a maximum or 4:1 and a minimum of 1:3.

I really like this method because it enables me to wash the store bought grains.  :)

[I also make brown rice mochi soup dumplings with the rice solids.  You must wait about 5-7 days so that the solids can be shaped into balls that will be cooked in boiling water. For mochi, grind about 3-4 min to get a smoother paste.  ]

 

 



I'mTheMami's picture
I'mTheMami

Lovely post, would love to try this soon. Homemade pasta, right up there with homemade bread. :) 

-G-man's picture
-G-man

I found this thread (it is old) and wondered if you can give some clarification.

You state that the flour will go rancid, oxidise quickly if the mill exceeds 120F.

Stone Grinding mills hit 40 degrees (104F?) within 2 minutes. Produce 440g of flour. It is also noted by others that even after 40 degrees the grains lose value. So then you have to turn machine off after 2 min of use and let the stones cool down for one hour before operating for another 2 minutes (if you do not wish for the temperature to keep going up to beyond 140F)

So to keep it below that, one would need a hand mill.

So now the hand mill is purchased... all the time and effort goes into the milling process by hand to retain the nutritional value.. then the bread gets put in the oven which is 150-200 degrees Celsius (302-392F).

Will that destroy any benefit the hand mill (grinding below 120F) would of produced anyway or is there an actual difference as the bread had 'more' nutrition to begin with before going into the oven?

baltochef's picture
baltochef

I will second Susan-MN's recommendations as to soaking and sprouting whole grains..The difference in nurtitive value between soaked and unsoaked grains is simply amazing..Sprouting grains also makes them far more digestible..

The Vita-Mix blenders excel at batters for pancakes, waffles, muffins, indeed all types of quick breads..

Bruce

LLM777's picture
LLM777

I have been using my K Tec blender (similar to VitaMix) for grinding grains for about 2 years now.  I agree with all that Bruce says but you work around that and use what you have available. It's better than not grinding at all.

You do have to grind in smaller batches.  One cup measurments is how mine operates. So for a loaf of my bread I use it 2-3 times.  Yes, I do let it rest a little in between (when I have time) while I'm getting my other ingredients ready.

In my manual, it specifically mentions grinding grains on the highest speed on the preset timer of 50 seconds. Flour does get caught on the sides but it is already ground with no chunks whatsoever left. However, with wheat, it is not as fine a grind as an actual mill but it does produce nice bread. All the other grains (spelt, kamut, rye, amaranth, millet, etc.) do very nicely in the blender.

I have been very satisfied with my K tec and perhaps some day I will get a mill but not for now and all I bake with is freshly ground grain so that says something. :)

 

LLM777's picture
LLM777

I went to the website and it does look great!  I will be trying some of these recipes today.

 

IndyRose's picture
IndyRose

I saw a tip to keep the heat down, grind FROZEN grain.

Bread Buddy's picture
Bread Buddy

Cooking202, I have had my VitaMix for over year now and love, love, love it!  I purchased the accessory container that is sold specifically for grinding grains, and that is the one I use for grinding whole grains when I make bread.  It works very well but you cannot grind a lot of grains at once.  As I grind it fresh for each baking session (usually enough for just one or two loaves), it really is okay.  I do about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grains at a time and stop it is needs to be stirred down for better distribution.  I ususally like a course grind rather than a fine grind, but have used both.  I especially like grindng my own rye berries. 

I think the Vita Mix is just fine for grinding small amounts of flour, but if you are looking to do a lot at one time, I would invest in a separate machine dedicated for this purpose.

Bread Buddy's picture
Bread Buddy

Cooking202, I have had my VitaMix for over year now and love, love, love it!  I purchased the accessory container that is sold specifically for grinding grains, and that is the one I use for grinding whole grains when I make bread.  It works very well but you cannot grind a lot of grains at once.  As I grind it fresh for each baking session (usually enough for just one or two loaves), it really is okay.  I do about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grains at a time and stop if it needs to be stirred down for better distribution.  I ususally like a course grind rather than a fine grind, but have used both.  I especially like grindng my own rye berries. 

I think the Vita Mix is just fine for grinding small amounts of flour, but if you are looking to do a lot at one time, I would invest in a separate machine dedicated for this purpose.

Antilope's picture
Antilope

I use our Vitamix to grind rice flour from uncooked white rice for Dutch Crunch Bread.

gray's picture
gray

I just started using a Vitamix with the grain container. I've been freezing the wheat berries first and found they can blend for much longer before warming up. I find about a cup and half of berries starting at the low setting at 10 (model 5200) for about 30 seconds, then another 30-45 seconds on high does a pretty good job. I then sift. I've also been freezing sprouted wheat berries before grinding.

Does anyone know if freezing would degrade flour quality?