The Fresh Loaf

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Milling Rye Berries

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xaipete's picture
xaipete

Milling Rye Berries

I grind my own rye berries with a Nutrimill and have noticed that the mill appears to have a much rougher time (takes at least twice as long to grind and seems to almost clog up at times) when grinding them than when grinding, e.g., hard spring wheat. Grinding rye also creates a lot more powder in my kitchen, so much so that I always grind rye outside.


The performance of my mill on rye has often puzzled me since rye is softer than wheat. I've tried both Bob's Red Mill rye berries as well as a number of brands purchased from the bulk food bins of local markets, all with the same result.


Perhaps my mill has a more difficult time with rye because rye is softer and the mill is geared towards harder grains.


I usually grind on low and fine, but often find that the mill almost appears to clog up at times (only when grinding rye) such that I have to move the dials up from fine and low from time to time to keep things moving while grinding a batch. I usually grind between 1 1/2 to 3 pounds per grind.


Anybody got any ideas on what's happening here?


--Pamela

proth5's picture
proth5

Every now and then I think of buying a Nutrimill just so that I can research some of these subtle differences...(When I find that crowbar that I need to open my wallet :>))


Anyway.


When I grind rye, I have adjusted its moisture content so that it is 13% or so - the same as when I grind my wheat (I grind by hand with steel burrs).  I haven't noticed any difference.  However, I had a fairly nasty incident pre-moisture meter days of my wheat having too high a moisture content.  It, of course, did not grind very well and eventually gummed up the burrs.


I'm tempering the grain so that I get a better bran separation as I seem to have been devoting myself to less than 100% extraction flours.


With an impact mill, you don't want to adjust the moisture content of the grain.  I would guess that something with a lower moisture content ("harder"?) would grind more easily as impact is being used to break the grain into little bits (Think of pounding a dry bean with a hammer vs pounding a cooked bean - you are going to get little pieces faster with the dry bean...).  Could it be that stored in your ambient conditions, rye will intrinsically have a higher moisture content than wheat?  And could this be the difference?


The only thing that I can offer is that once I am home, that I find samples of each and measure moisture content in my environment to see if this is so.  I can't really do equivalent testing of my mill vs the Nutrimill, but as I said, since I am equipped with a mill and a grain moisture meter - I'm willing to do any testing that folks think would be interesting or edifying.  I'll keep checking in for other thoughts.


Hope this helps.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Pat, where are you getting your rye berries and what is their moisture content when you first purchase them?


--Pamela

proth5's picture
proth5

at the local Whole Foods.  I haven't measured the intial moisture content and I'm away from my home until Friday.


What I'll do on Friday is grab some rye and wheat from neighboring bulk bins and do a moisture content on them.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Thanks, Pat. I've bought from WF too.


--Pamela

proth5's picture
proth5

Fresh from the bulk bins moisture conten on both wheat and rye are about 12.3% - so that's that theory shot to heck.


As flour girl says below, it may just be that that the grain is intrinsically more powdery and that makes a difference for you.


I milled triticale this weeked (wheat/rye cross) and I won't say it was more difficult to mill, but it was a little more difficult to get good bran separation - I had to mill much more finely before the bran separated well,  I wonder if that's a factor with your mill...


Hope this helps.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Thanks, Pat, for testing the moisture content.


I woke up this morning thinking about what flourgirl said and thought, "That's probably it." Rye is softer, softer makes a more powdery grind, the powder tends to clog the Nutrimill off and on, changing the dial from fine to coarser and upping the speed unclog the mill ....


Makes pretty good sense, doesn't it!


On bran separation: It appears that I get good bran separation in spite of the powder. At least there is a large collection of bran visible in the collection bucket. I really should send you a sample! I'm grinding today and will put it and a sample of wheat in a priority mail package so you can have a first hand look. It would be interesting to get your thoughts on the Nutrimill's output.


--Pamela

proth5's picture
proth5

I'd be glad to see a sample.


I eventually got good bran separation, but I had to grind somewhat finer than I do with wheat to get it.  I could get an "almost white" flour just as I do with wheat.


Yeah, just more powdery makes sense...


I'm really considering getting an impact mill, just because I'm getting deeper and deeper into milling and I would like to be able to compare the two (that crowbar must be around somewhere...) also after milling in 90F heat yesterday, I'm considering that it would be nice to have a backup...

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Well, at least you got some exercise!


--Pamela

proth5's picture
proth5

I decided that I needed to take "a day off" and "do nothing."  So my definition of doing nothing included milling a batch of grain, cleaning the garage and doing laundry.  I'm considering how I can re-plan this experiment in agrarian living...


I really look like just a nice little old lady  - with all this milling  - and its substantial impact on my upper body strength - I always joke that someday a potential mugger is in for a bad surprise....


Have a good 4th!


Pat

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Your definition of taking a day off sounds like mine except I've got a little help from my Nutrimill.


Happy 4th to you as well.


--Pamela

proth5's picture
proth5

how we get our mani-pedis in with all this milling and baking? :>)

xaipete's picture
xaipete

We get our exfoliation from the berries rather than the garra rufa.


--Pamela 


 

gcook17's picture
gcook17

What kind of mill do you use to grind by hand?

proth5's picture
proth5

a Diamant - you may have heard that I love it.  I do...

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I mill rye using a Jupiter Mill with stones not burrs and have never had any problems.  Is the Nutrimill a high impact mill?


Jeff

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Yes, the Nutrimill is an impact mill. But it isn't that it has problems exactly. It just doesn't mill as I would expect. The finish product is superb.


--Pamela

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Do you inspect your grains for purity?  That is to make certain that there is no foreign matter like dried grass or tiny twigs or who knows what.  I have read that these things can wreak havoc with an impact mill.  Also the same article said that you will send a stone through an impact mill only once and never again!


Jeff

xaipete's picture
xaipete

The berries from Bob's Red MIll are very clean.


--Pamela

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

I mill both rye and red winter wheat in a manual stone mill.  The rye to me mills a lot easier than the wheat.  I store both of the berries in the feezer and mill them on the same setting.

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

I grind our rye berries in a stone mill and have also done the sprouted rye berries in a Nutrimill. Rye is much more powdery than wheat is for some reason no matter which mill I use.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

PROBLEM


I think your basic problem is that you are using the wrong speed and the wrong fineness setting on your Nutrimill when you grind your grain.


Reading your original post, it appears that, for general purpose milling with the Nutrimill, you normally use the low speed and a fine setting.


In your original post dated July 1, 2009 - 11:33am you said...



I grind my own rye berries with a Nutrimill and have noticed that the mill appears to have a much rougher time (takes at least twice as long to grind and seems to almost clog up at times) when grinding them than when grinding, e.g., hard spring wheat. Grinding rye also creates a lot more powder in my kitchen


I usually grind on low and fine, but often find that the mill almost appears to clog up at times (only when grinding rye) such that I have to move the dials up from fine and low from time to time to keep things moving while grinding a batch.



 


What caught my attention was the problem you cite of clogging in the mill and that milling rye creates more powder in your kitchen.


USING THE NUTRIMILL


You're an experienced baker, so it's not my intent to tell you how to use your mill, but simply to share with you my personal experience using the Nutrimill (for about two years) and how I, personally, adjust the mill for different grains.


The Nutrimill manual recommends the high speed setting for most general purpose milling. This is what I use. (You say you normally use the low setting). This may be one problem.


In terms of the the construction of the Nutrimill, the lower dial controls the size of the opening from the grain hopper (on top) into the actual milling mechanism (in the middle). This is what I adjust depending on the grain I am milling.


If we think of the lower dial as an analog clock, then fine would be about 10:00, normal would be about 12:00 and anything greater than normal would be used to adjust for the properties of the grain being milled. As many users of the Nutrimill have pointed out, there is not a great deal of difference in flour fineness that results from varying this setting if you assume you're using the same kind of grain. If, however, you're milling different grains (as we all do), then minor adjustments here may produce better results.


MY RECOMMENDATIONS


I always have the upper dial set to high. I do make minor adjustments with the lower dial depending on the grain. As a general rule of thumb, as the grain goes from harder to softer, I increase the lower dial setting (move it to the right). You'll notice that all of the grains I use (shown in the table below) are approximately the same size. Here is a general guideline for what I do...


MY SETTINGS FOR THE LOWER DIAL on a NUTRIMILL FOR DIFFERENT GRAINS



GRAINUSUAL SETTING
hard spring wheat 11:00
hard winter wheat 12:00
spelt 1:00
rye 2:00

 

COMMENTS

Since rye is softer than wheat, I think you'll find that, if you adjust the lower dial, the milling time should not be significantly different from wheat (pound for pound) nor should you experience clogging or "more powder in your kitchen".

Experiment with your milling settings to see if my suggestions help you. Do post back on your experience.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Thanks for your post. You are probably right about the speed because when I increase the speed when milling rye, the clogging problem resolves itself.


I usually have the upper dial set low speed because I think that makes the temperature of the grind lower which is good from a nutritional aspect.


I'm grinding today (rye & wheat), so I'll give your recommendations a try. Thanks a lot for writing out such an informative post.


--Pamela

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Quote:
Thanks for your post. You are probably right about the speed because when I increase the speed when milling rye, the clogging problem resolves itself.

Are we on the same page here?


If you turn the lower dial to the right you are decreasing the time the grain spends in the milling chamber,  not increasing it.


=========


a quck PS on temperature -


While we're all aware that high milling temperatures can affect the nutrition of whole grain flour, most of what is written about this on the web is based on commercial milling and is inappropriate for home milling. Issues in commercial milling are incorrectly applied to home milling in order to sell a product.


I've done timing tests (how long it takes to mill X amount of grain) and tests on the resulting temperature of the fresh milled flour. I'll post the details later, if you're interested.


However, the bottom line is that, according to my tests, nutritional deterioration due to high milling temperatures is *not* a problem with home mills, even micronizer mills (like the Nutrimill).


 


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I don't have the mill in front of me so I'm just not visualizing the dials and directions improperly. I do understand and we are on the same page. Thanks again.


Sure, I'd love to see your tests/information about temperature.


--Pamela

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

hi xaipete,


Unfortunately, I've lost my extensive notes from my flour temperature tests but I did find an early draft.


The temperature tests were done by milling one pound of grain with the upper dial set to high and the lower dial to 10:00. Flour temperature was measured with a digital thermometer immediately after milling.


For hard spring wheat, the flour registered 130F. This is the hardest grain I milled. Softer grains had slightly lower temperatures. I think rye flour registered 90 - 100F (going from memory here).


Was bummed out to discover that my notes on flour temperature had somehow escaped to digital heaven, but I hope this is of some help to you.


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

About 130ºF is what I remember for hard red spring wheat berries too.


Thanks for looking.


--Pamela

proth5's picture
proth5

As I said above, I've been thinking about a Nutrimill to use as a backup and just to let me research problems.  Seems like there is more to it than loading the grain and flipping the switch.  That makes me even more interested in the thing.  I love me toys...


This thing about temperature really cracks me up - if I had a dime for everytime someone told me that I "needed" stone burrs because the metal burrs in the mighty Diamant will heat the grain too much - well, I could buy a Nutrimill..


Thanks again and Happy Milling!

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I chuckled when you said you're thinking about getting a Nutrimill - mostly because I am suffused with envy and greed every time I think about your Diamant grain mill and all the wonderful things you do with it.


Using a Nutrimill really isn't much more than, as you said, "loading the grain and flipping a switch". Even minor issues (like Pamela's) don't prevent the user from producing a satisfactory flour. But micronizer mills will never have the range and flexibility of a quality hand mill (like the Country Living mill or your Diamant) or motorized versions of the same design (like the Retsel).


And speaking of Retsel, a fantastic manual Retsel mill just sold on eBay for a mere $50 (plus $12 shipping)


Retsel manual grain mill


Oh! I would have bought it in a flash! However, when I puzzled over where I could mount it and realized that drilling holes in my mother's heirloom mahogany dining table was my only option, I returned to reality.


But I can still dream...

proth5's picture
proth5

I didn't think twice as I drilled into a hard rock maple table top to mount the Diamant - which - coincidentally I bought on eBay.  I was ready to pay to full retail price for it (before the drop in the dollar) but got a bargain at an auction which went - believe me - right sown to the last second.  It was meant to be.


You can buy stands for these things, I believe...


Happy Milling!

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Thanks again for reminding me about the instructions. I've had the mill for 5 years now and probably haven't looked at the instructions for at least 3.


--Pamela