The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Grain mill comparison for beginner

backtobasics's picture
backtobasics

Grain mill comparison for beginner

I have a family of 5, and am looking to start milling my own grains. I am racking my brains out trying to choose one as there are upsides, downsides to every single one of them or they are $1000! I dont care what it looks like, I dont care if its bulky, I am even willing to put some sweat into it for a quality nutritious final product. I would prefer a stone mill over a micronizer but even within the stone mill realm its so confusing.... more pluses I care about are its ability to flake/roll oats, volume, and make cornmeal, grind oily seeds is a cherry on top. To save me hours and hours of searching for reviews, details  and a possible regretful purchase, could any knowledgeable breadmakers out there PLEASE HELP? Thanks!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

If you read this post, you can get some general info http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/38284/overwhelmed-mill-options   I don't flake or roll oats, or make cornmeal, or grind oily seeds, so can't help there.  Of the several mills I own, my favorite for grinding wheat berries is the Lee Household mill, but that would probably be a bad choice for you because it designed for wheat berries only, and probably would be of little to no use for the other things you mention.  Your best choices would probably be a Komo if you can afford it, or a used stone mill - like an Excalibur or All Grain,  if your budget doesn't work for a Komo. I can't say whether any mill will handle oily seeds, but the AllGrain claims it can handle cracked wheat and cereals http://www.allgrainmills.com/  I have used it for rice and wheat berries and it works fine for those. 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I own the adjustable model of the Lee Household Flour Mill (S-600) and have successfully used it to mill flour from many grains besides wheat.

The documentation on the mill says it can mill wheat, pearled barley, hulled oats and popcorn. The adjustable model (600 or S-600) can also mill dent corn.

Wheat is available in a number of varieties, Hard wheats are best for bread, rolls and pizza dough; soft wheats are best for cookies, whole wheat pastry, pancakes, etc. I successfully use my Lee Mill for both hard wheats and soft wheats.

I also use my S-600 to mill rye and heritage grains genetically related to wheat such as emmer and spelt. With the adjustable model, I simply set the adjustment to about 1/3" from "F" (the finest grind) and have no problems with the milling.

I routinely mill whole popcorn for polenta and cornbread. Again, setting the adjustment lever to about 1/3" from "F" gives a slightly coarse grind which I prefer for polenta or cornbread.

I have milled all these grains on a routine basis for five years with no problems.

====================================================
PS: I am the original poster for the thread about the Lee Household Flour Mill
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/13634/lee-household-flour-mill

Happy to respond to anyone who wants further info on this mill or my experience using it.

best - SF

Melesine's picture
Melesine

That is my thread you linked and I did end up buying a Komo which I really like. I've been using it for about a year now. 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

If you truly need advice about a grain mill you should provide further information.
> what is your price range for a mill?
> how many loaves per week do you need to feed your family?
> do you want to bake whoe grain pan breads? artisan breads? multigrain breads?
> do you have a good source for grains? Please specify the grains you can buy and those you wish to use for your bread baking

Buying a grain mill is only one part of transitioning to whole grain baking.

Hope to hear back from you. - SF

charbono's picture
charbono

A few general comments:  If you are going to be milling flour for 5 people, you should probably get an electric mill.  Also, cheap mills turn out to be not worth it.  With patience, you can get a high quality used one.  Finally, one mill can't do it all.

 

No grinder is a flaker, although some machines like Kitchenaid have both grinder and flaker attachments.  I have a small flaker.  Grainmaker makes a larger one.  Rolled oats turn out to be more trouble than they're worth, because to get big flakes without too much flour you have to temper the oats.  Coarsely ground (scottish) oats are a good alternative.

 

The Retsel Mil-Rite will do most of what you want, if you get both the stone and steel burrs.  It's overpriced, especially considering that it's usually sold with an aluminum auger that can break.  A stainless steel one costs about $100.  The steel burrs handle normal-sized kernels of dent corn pretty well.  Very large kernels won't go down well, and popcorn is not recommended (although I've done it).  Fresh nixtamal won't go down. 

 

I got a CS Bell #2 to handle extra-large kernels of corn, extra-hard kernels, and to produce a large proportion of coarse grits.  It's manual, but I don't mill a lot of corn at a time.

 

If I didn't already have the above mills, I'd probably get a Grainmaker 99.  I've seen some used Diamants go for reasonable prices.  They have the advantages of weight and burr selection.

 

backtobasics's picture
backtobasics

Based on everyones replies, I still have much research to do on all of your recommendations and advice.  While electric seems far superior, what happens if the power goes? I agree theyre easier but I dont want the micronizing kind so that bumps the price up and I'd need to buy a manual one anyway. I love the grainmaker99 but at ~700 Im hesitant, although I know it'd be a great lifetime investment.To answer Subfuscpersonas questions;

> what is your price range for a mill?0-500ish
> how many loaves per week do you need to feed your family? I want a higher volume one (my 3 sons are still little so I want to plan ahead and by one with a larger capacity than we currently need, but currently we eat about 2-3 loaves a week.)
> do you want to bake whole grain pan breads? Yes artisan breads? Yes multigrain breads? Maybe eventually....Both, for self sufficiency and nutrition, I want to be able to bake highly nutritious loaves that might not look pretty, but will provide quality nutrition and be able to bake my favorite (sourdough) as well as artisan on occasion. also would like to do sprouted grain breads.
> do you have a good source for grains? Please specify the grains you can buy and those you wish to use for your bread baking. My source is Azure Standard. I can get just about everything from them but aim to have  nice stock of hard red winter, hard white ww, soft white berries, spelt, buckwheat, barley, oats, maybe even some einkorn when I make progress on the learning curve :)

 

Thanks again for everyones awesome replies, it's much appreciated. I will follow up later when I decide!

the hadster's picture
the hadster

Hello:

My computer was on the fritz, so I did not get a chance to reply sooner.

I called Breadtopia and asked them what the difference is between the new Mockmill 100 and 200.  The 200 is more powerful and will process more larger amounts of grain faster than the 100.  They both process the grain to the same fineness.

I have mine set up and have played around with it for a few weeks now.  My 100 is plenty fast enough for me, a single person.  For your 2 to 3 loaves a week, it will also be fine.

You can set up the mill so that it barely cracks the grain to ultra-fine particles - although it will never be as powdery as commercially ground grain.

I use a 40 and 50 mesh sifter, and there is not much chaff left over.  There is some, but not a great deal.  The sifted flour is still has some very fine pieces of bran in it, but it does not interfere with my gluten development.  The chaff can be soaked and added later, used to protect the bread from sticking to the peel, and in hot cereals.

It does not heat the grain too much as it's processing.

I've read your comment about the power going out.  My question is, how much grain will you actually need to grind if you have no power?  I have a gas oven/range.  However, the thermostat on the oven is electric, so I can't use the oven when the power is out.  The other thing to consider is how long your power is out, when it is out.  During hurricane Sandy, may people were out of power for about 5 days to 1 week.  Fortunately for us living in the North East, being without power for 3 weeks is unlikely.  In any event, unless you have a wood burning oven or an outdoor oven, you will not be using your oven during a power outage.

Originally, I had thought about getting a hand operated mill.  I found a lovely one, I think its the one you refer to.  It is expensive (at least by my standard), heavy (at least to me, a 60 year old), needs a permanent set up, and takes about 90 minutes to grind about 2 pounds of grain.  I simply don't have the strength for it, nor do I have the space.

I have experimented with sprouting, drying and then grinding my own grain and love it.  I currently have some Emmer, Einkorn and Red Fife grain.  Apparently, the Einkorn and Emmer are more difficult to sprout, so I will simply grind them.  I plan on sprouting, drying and grinding the Red Fife.  I do not have a dehydrator.  I weigh, in grams, the grain before I sprout it.  After its been drying for a while, I weigh it again. When it weighs the same as its pre-sprouting weight, I know its safe to grind.

I buy my grains from Breadtopia.  Until your post, I did not know of Azure Standard.  I will check them out.  I like the folks at Breadtopia.  I have found them responsive and knowledgable.  I like that I can buy smaller amounts of whole grains.  I live in a NYC apartment and don't have room for 5 pound buckets of grain.

The idea of a manual grain mill is romantic, and the Grainmaker is a beautiful machine.  If I lived in a house, had room to devote to a permanent grinding table and if I was a young man instead of a 60 year old woman, I might consider it.  The author of "The Perfect Loaf" blog, a young man, says it takes him several HOURS to grind enough grain for his needs.  For 3 loaves, each about 1.5 pounds, you will probably spend about 2 hours grinding grain per week.  Do you have that much time?  Will you be able to bake bread when the power goes out? Do you have the strength and stamina to grind grain by hand? Do you have space for it?  If the answer to all these questions is "yes," then I would go ahead with the purchase of a hand operated grain mill.  If you answer to any of these questions is "no," then I would consider an electric mill.

If you decide on the electric mill, I can recommend the Mockmill 100.  As I stated earlier, the difference between the 100 and 200 is power, not the ability to grind a finer or courser flour.  It can grind most grains and many spices - not nuts.  There is a long list of things you are able to grind that comes with the mill, and an expanded list on the website.

Let us know what you decide and good luck!  Your children are fortunate indeed to grow up eating home made bread!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

$179. It makes fine enough flour for me and all the breads that I make. For the holidays Amazon will have then on sale for this price if you also get the Amazon credit card:-)

It grinds every grains seed I throw at it that isn't oily (no flax) including rice and corn and grinds coarse to fine. I only bake one or two loaves of bread at a time per week and i can't see spending any more money than that for I do.

Nothing like fresh flour for bread especially spouted grain flour.

Steel_Wind's picture
Steel_Wind

If you have a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, I would recommend checking out The Mockmill. For my family of five, it works very well.

If you want to spend more, you can certainly buy the KoMo Classic and you will be very pleased with it. The KoMo Classic is a tremendous grain mill and will produce excellent fine flour in no-time flat. It's beautiful and easy to operate. The downside is it's $500.

The upside to the Mockmill is that it produces a flour almost as fine as the KoMo Classic for only $199. You do need to have a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer to power it though.

NOTE: The Mockmill is NOT the standard "grain-mill" attachment you may have seen for the KA Stand-mixer, It is a new ceramic stone grinder released in May 2015 and has a completely different design. I have reviewed elsewhere in this section of the forums and on Breadtopia.