The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Manual vs. Electric - Some practical questions

JWK1's picture
JWK1

Manual vs. Electric - Some practical questions

I started looking for a manual grain mill, and pretty much came down to the Grainmaker and Country Living.  Then I found this great forum (since my main interest is to provide bread for my family) and am not so sure about manual.  Not because of the work, but because of the flour after milling for bread.


 


It seems from what I've read on this forum that a number of people think that the pulverising action of the impact mills (I would go with a Nutrimill) gives a finer, better grind for bread and also takes care of the bran problem (by pulverising them into ineffectual tiny pieces) as opposed to a manual mill.


 


Let's forget about the time and effort with a manual mill for now.  I spend 8 minutes each morning hand grinding coffee beans for two mugs.  I don't mind spending time and I can (and probably will) motorize the mill in the future.  I like the manual mill for other reasons, but I am really trying to find out how it does for bread flour compared to the Nutrimill.  I even read in one post that you could mill too fine for bread on a Nutrimill.  True?


 


So I guess the most simple question would be:  Does the Nutrimill create better bread flour than a Country Living or Grainmaker, and if so, how?  I am sure it is not that simple.  Things seldom are.


 


Anyway, I have just started making a lot of bread for the family of four and we have decided to buy a mill and get 50 lb. bags of wheat berries.


 


Thanks for any info or advice.

smaxson's picture
smaxson

I have read and also been told that many of the Amish have given up their hand cranked mills for the Nutrimill. I.e., no problems with the flour of any kind.


Looking at forums as I was researching to buy my Nutrimill a couple of years ago, there were occasional complaints about the size adjustment not working properly but that a shipment back to the factory under warranty fixed the problem. Mine will go from "cake flour" superfine to something like a coarser stone ground flour you might find in the grocery. Not quite to the "meal"or "semolina grind" they advertise.


Like all changes of flour, it takes adjustments to any recipe. Also, you may spend a bit of time hunting for the grind you want.

JWK1's picture
JWK1

I was wondering more about whether the hand mill could grind flour as well as the Nutrimill, as fine, etc.


 


Do you find you can get a good consistency out of dried corn for corn bread, or does the Nutrimill grind it too fine for that?


 


Thanks.

OldDoughNut's picture
OldDoughNut

I make corn bread from Nutrimill "coarse-ground" popcorn flour, but it's not the same as corn meal (personally, I like it, but it's probably not for everyone).  The coarse setting does not provide a uniformly coarse grind, so it's more of a flour with perhaps 10% of it being coarse enough to be considered corn meal.


I don't have a manual mill, but I've heard you can run the flour through twice to get a fineness appropriate for bread flour - and the second time goes a lot faster than the first time!  I'd actually love to get a manual mill, but just for fun, so it's a bit much to spend!

SurebetVA's picture
SurebetVA

I have both a hand mill and a kitchen aid mill.  The kitchen aid mill works off of the same principals as the hand mill but is run by my kitchen aid mixer or 10qt Hobart.  I have run the flour through the kitchen aid mill three times with pretty good results. I am assuming I could do the same with the hand mixer if I had the patience and arm muscle for it. 

proth5's picture
proth5

a hand turned mill (a Diamant) and let me assure you that it can produce flour (even white flour) as good as what you can purchase from a commercial stone mill (I even have some lab tests to show it).


If you really want to see how far hand milling can take you, you might want to read some of my blogs on the topic of hand milling. They are a little old, but still hold true.


But I won't say it is free from serious effort, though...


Ultimately the choice is yours - the impact mills certainly seem to make folks very happy, but don't seem to be as flexible as either hand turned of motor powered burr mills.


Hope this helps.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

For an excellent review of both manual and electric grain mills, the best comparative review I've found is at http://www.grainmillcomparison.com. I recommend you take the time to look at everything on this site.


If you choose to buy a manual grain mill, you will find that only  high end (eg expensive) mills give you the versatility that you require for bread baking. If you chose to purchase a high end manual mill and then decide to motorize it, it will cost you twice what you might pay for a high end electric mill (this assumes you do *not* want to void the warranty that comes with your manual mill).


Since you're buying 50 lbs of wheat, I'm assuming that you want to mill your own flour on a regular basis and may be baking several loaves at a time and possibly baking more than once a week. If I'm correctly interpreting your needs, I would strongly urge you to purchase an electric mill.