The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ingredient Grinding

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kab's picture
kab

Ingredient Grinding

I was wondering if any of you could clue me in when it comes to grinding your grains.

What is the best way to do it?

Do you recommend a grain mill? If so, where is the best place to get one that will not break my wallet. I have many uses for one (I have chickens), but I cannot seem to find one that will not break my wallet that is worth the money spent.

Any advice/suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

proth5's picture
proth5

discussions on this topic and so many definitions of "break my wallet" and "worth the money spent" that I would not even venture suggestions.

If you are looking at hand turned mills a good resource is this site: http://www.grainmillcomparison.com/

If you are contemplating electric mills - Pleasnt Hill Grain is a good resource.

I love my hand turned mill (and it is a Diamant) and to me it was worth the money spent and did not break my wallet, but your parameters may be different.

Good luck with your choice.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Producing both "flour" for bread and in essence "cracked wheat" for chickens will require a certain type of mill; some types of home mills just can't handle so much variation in desired final size. Grinding your own grain into flour and making bread from it can be quite interesting (growing your own too may be even more interesting:-).

But grinding your own is by no means necessary (or even recommended). A great deal of fine bread is baked from commercially available flours. Eventually you may become quite picky about your flours; there are stories here on TFL about people driving hundreds of miles from home on holiday, then buying fifty pound bags of a flour they can't get anywhere closer. Still, they don't grind their own.

So my suggestion is to get into home grinding if it interests you, but to not get into it just because it seems to you to be the "right" thing to do.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Hi,

I don't know what your experience with baking might be but I would suggest that you be a proficient baker of bread prior to pursuing a grain mill.  You could go a lifetime and never grind your own grains and meet with outstanding baking success.  On the other hand, if you are intrigued by freshly milled grain and chasing the perfect bread with another dimension of flavor, then a mill might be the thing for you.

Hand grinding is A LOT of work, electric mills are noisy and none of the good ones are inexpensive.  I am not aware of any one mill that would do all that you might want it too.  Take your time, look around, learn all you can about mills to avoid a purchasing mistake and happy baking.

Jeff

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

you've already gotten good advice from prior posters.

> what is the weight of grain that you wish to mill at a time?

> how important is it to you to have a mill that will mill grain very coarsely (or crack it) - you mention cracking grain (I assume you mean corn) for chicken feed - as well as milling fine flour (best, in general, for most bread baking)?

> do you have a preference for a manual mill? an electric mill? a mill that is both manual & electric?

> what is your price point?

> how important is it to you to mill your own grain for bread baking? (In the US, there are good sources for whole grain and high extraction flours)

> do you have source(s) for grain? - do you know the price / lb? - do you know the cost of shipping?

> if you intend to order grain in bulk (25 or 50 lb bag), are you prepared to properly store the grain?

> do you want to mill only organic grains?

TFL has many posts on a wide variety of grain mills (use the search box) as well as mail order sources for both grain and speciality flours.

However, if you want targeted advice, you'll have to pinpoint your needs a good deal more precisely.

proth5's picture
proth5

You should clarify your goals before buying a mill and commiting to grind you own grain.

There is something about fresh milled anything that is elusive and wonderful, but it is not work and expense free.

I decided to do hand milling because I wanted to be more physically involved with producing my own food.  Using human power intrigues me and I am willing to make the commitment.  I also enjoyed learning about the milling process and am best pleased when I can produce flour that is somewhat different from the standard home milled whole wheat.  The fact that I can mill flour from any grain that I can get my hands on and can have anything from cracked grain to white flour influenced my choice of mill.  I would not put such great emphasis on hand milling being a "LOT" of work as the poster above, but it is physical labor and requires some commitment - and your choice of mill will be much more important in determining how much work it will be - more so than with electric mills.

I emphatically did not get involved in home milling for survivalist purposes or for coaxing the maximum nutrition from the grain.  I got into it because I enjoy knowing a process from one end to another. 

I had the chance recently to work with flours that might be considered less that "perfect" for bread making and have come to the conclusion that the "perfect" loaf is as much in the baker's mind and hands than it is is finding that elusive perfect flour.  Some flours accomodate the bad minds and hands better than others - but I've seen a superior baker make superior loaves with "inferior" flour. 

I was also willing to carve out time to mill - but no too much time - and that infuenced my choice of mill.

If you are going to grind grain ,though I do recommend a grain mill of some type, though.  Putting some more thought into it, I do suggest you refine your parameters to find the best mill for you.

Good luck with your choice.  If you are as happywith a mill as I am with mine, then you will have chosen well.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I believe that your choice of a Diamant hand mill accounts for your positive account of the amount of labor involved in hand milling.  The Diamant  mill currently sells at Lehman's for $1300 and I think that is likely to exceed the budget of most looking for a well priced mill.

The few hand mills that I have tried have required considerable effort to mill enough flour for a single loaf of bread.  Hopefully we will hear from those who currently mill by hand and see what actual regular users of other hand mills report in the way of the amount of effort involved.

Jeff

proth5's picture
proth5

say that my choice of mill had a lot to do with my perception of the amount of work and that is so true.  I really think that people who choose hand mills should take this into account.  A mill that seems inexpensive but is never used is a poor investment indeed.

I really believe that a lot of the reason why I've stayed with hand milling is the relative ease of using the mill I have chosen.  It's a good data point - if you want to hand mill, you need to take this into account.

I'd love to hear from someone that has a Country Living Mill - although it is considered expensive also - to see if they have a positive perception of the effort involved because this mill always gets an "easiest to turn - except for the Diamant" promotion.

And yes, the Diamant is expensive these days (mine was purchased at a cost not nearly that of today's mill), if only one person is using it.  But I always have a vision on these things - if one is surrounded by like minded individuals, why not purchase one good mill (doesn't need to be the same one as mine) and form a cooperative to use it?  Seems more rational, you know.  Even in homes wth heavy use, there is plenty of extra milling capacity with a good mill.

I think about this from time to time.

jcking's picture
jcking

Since you're in Athens it might be worth your wile to visit Woodstock, GA. View this link and see if it interests you. They offer a wide variety of grinders and even a class to help you decide.

Retail store:  http://info.breadbeckers.com/retail-store/

Jim

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

If you want to crack corn for chickens, that is most cheaply done with what is known as a Corona mill, after what was probably the original of that type.  This is a hand-powered mill that is often sold to people who wish to crack malted grains for brewing beer.  It typically costs $40 US or less.  It will NOT grind flour suitable for making bread, but will make something suitable for porridge, for side dishes, for adding texture to bread dough, or for thickening soups and stews.  It does not have a true grinding surface.  It works by crushing the grain between cast metal plates.

If you want to try milling your own flour by manual power, there is a price jump from the Corona mill of at least $100 and possibly $200 to get a reliable unit.  I bought the Wondermill Junior mill because it could be clamped to a table instead of having to be bolted down.  The clamp that comes with it is secure enough to mill without having to tighten the screws every couple of minutes.  The grinding surface is stone, or you can use metal plates but I never had much luck with those.  Check out You-Tube for videos of people testing this mill for both flour and cracked grain.  I liked mine but eventually I wanted to be able to mill more flours in less time.  I could have bought a more expensive manually powered mill which can be powered by a bicycle, but I chose the path of greater convenience and less space consumption which comes with an electric mill.

Electric flour mills range in price from the hand-powered ones above to at least twice that price.  With these you can grind almost any grain at a moment's notice.  Corn is specifically excluded from the list of grains which can be ground in some of these mills.  Also, they don't really make cracked grain suitable for feeding birds.  Your chickens would be eating finely cracked grain containing a lot of coarse meal, at best.  I went with a Ko-Mo, which is quite expensive, because I was already committed to grinding all of my grains freshly.  I am very happy with this mill, which I use at least once every day and often two or three times, but it was a substantial expense.