The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Grain mill or food processor?

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Marni's picture
Marni

Grain mill or food processor?

Hello knowledgeable bakers- I do not own a grain mill, but do own a couple food processors.  In the past I have sometimes whirled some oatmeal to add to a recipe.  How is a grain mill different?  I'd like to grind some flax and quinoa,  I had thought of using a small coffee grinder (an unused one) but I'd get a grain mill if that's the best way to go.  Are they expensive, can I just pick one up at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and which one is the best?  Thanks for any input you can share.

Marni

rainbowbrown's picture
rainbowbrown

I have a food processor and a coffee grinder and I've never used a grain mill. I can't say anything about grinding large dry grains in a food processor or coffee grinder, but I use a coffee grinder for flax seeds quite frequently and it works great. Quinoa, though, not so great. I've tried grinding small amounts of dried quinoa in the coffee grinder and got some powder, but mostly chunks and whole peices. I tried grinding quinoa sprouts in a food processor, and they wouldn't even break up even though they're softer. I don't really know anything about the make-up of a mill, but for seeds at least, your ok with one of the things you've got. You can try quinoa in a food processor or coffee grinder, but it's never worked for me. In fact if I were you I would try it before thinking about buying a mill...they're mighty pricey.

When you ground up oatmeal, was it rolled oats, groats, steel cut...?

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

I'm pretty happy with my Vitamix, a really high powered blender.  Then I get to use it as an excellent juicer, and other culinary uses.  The grain jar is a separate jar that makes nice flour.  Not cheap, but a great machine in general in the kitchen.  Made in USA, 7 year warranty.

socialmaker's picture
socialmaker

I have one and i'm really happy with the way it's working. I started this as a hobby like 2 years ago and really gotten drawn into it although i don't consider myself a master or something :D arizona food reviews

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

How much grain do you need to mill at a time? Do you want to mill other grains besides quinoa? How fine do you want the flour to be?

Many posters here in the past have reported using a blender for relatively small amounts of grain at a time (? say 1-3 cups). They find it satisfactory. I've used an older blender for small amounts of rye, wheat or spelt. It has a small base so I can only do about 1/2 cup at a time. I can get a kind of gritty flour, which can be just what you want if you are using whole grain flour as a relatively small proportion of the total flour in a bread recipe, to add a certain texture and flavor interest.

If you have several food processors, I would certainly give it a try. One concern is that, over time, you might dull the cutting blade - remember, grain is a lot harder than oatmeal. I also don't think you could get as fine a flour with a food processor. Quinoa is a small grain (isn't it about the size of millet?) and softer than wheat; You might be able to get a satisfactory meal or a somewhat gritty flour with it. On the other hand, it's small size might make it harder to mill in a blender than a larger grain like wheat / spelt / rye etc.

Flax is an oily seed. Sometimes oily seeds can discolor the plastic bowl of your food processor. (Check the manual of your food processor and see if says anything about this.) I would recommend a small electric coffee grinder for seeds (used only for seeds, as you note).

It sounds as though you don't, at this time, have a need for an electric grain  mill. I would certainly experiment using the equipment you have to see if it can produce the kind of flour you want.

Lisacunn's picture
Lisacunn

No Bed Bath and Beyond or any of theose types of places do not carry mills.  They run about $250.  There is a great site that you can order a mill from- with free shipping and handling and other great organic and nonorganic grains.  it is www.breadbeckers.com.  I have a nutrimill and I love it.  I wish I had more time to use it though.  But you cannot do flax in it- too oily.  Fresh milled flour is harder to use but worth it nutritionally and taste wise.

Susan-MN's picture
Susan-MN

I have never tried Quinoa in my Flour Mill or Coffee Grinder...  but I have some Quinoa in my cupboard, so I'll test it out tomorrow and let you know what works.


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What's the difference between a grain mill and using a food processor?  You can make flour from WHOLE GRAINS using a grain mill.


Once ground, flour typically starts losing nutrients, and going rancid, within hours... in fact commercial "whole wheat flour" has the germ removed to prevent it from going rancid.  This means the majority of the nutrients in whole wheat flour are removed before it's packaged for retail sale.



Oat Flour made from oatmeal flakes is typically missing the bran layer of the oat groat, because, again, the bran layer goes rancid quickly... [check the wikipedia article for "rolled oats"]


Oat Flour milled in a Grain Mill from Whole Oat Groats therefore contains more nutrients, and more flavor, than Oat Flour made from Rolled Oats...



HOWEVER, you need a Grain Mill to make ultra-nutritious whole grain flours.


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For more info... check out the "Great Grain Robbery" on this page... six test tubes show the nutrients which are removed from commercially prepared flours...


http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/index.aspx#Nutrimill


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Whole grains, purchased in bulk from a health-food store or co-op will stay good for years, even decades, stored at room tempature, or perhaps in a chest freezer...  whole grains do not go stale or rancid until ground into flour.  So it can be very cost-effective to own your own grain mill and mill your own flour from a stock pile of grains you've built up over time.


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K-TEC KITCHEN MILL - $179.95


You can get a home kitchen mill for under $200 - I have owned the K-Tec Kitchen Mill since 2005 and I love it! 


The current retail price for the K-Tec $179.95 @ the website where I made my purchase - http://www.urbanhomemaker.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=161&idproduct=1375


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BLENDER BATTERS


A blender and/or a food processor cannot replace a home grain mill...  not for milling whole wheat into flour to use in making bread.


I do regularly use my blender to make pancake and waffle batter, and that works really, really well...  you need a strong blender, strong enough to easily crush ice.   You can find instructions here on how to use a blender to make freshly ground whole grain pancake and waffle batter here:


http://www.suegregg.com/recipes/breakfasts/blenderbatterwaffles/blenderbatterwaffles.htm


[keep clicking on next at the bottom of each page to see see all the step-by-step instructions, Q&As and nutritional information - it's written for teens learning to cook and taking a nutrition class, so it's very detailed w/tons of nutritional information and variations ]


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FLAX SEEDS in a COFFEE GRINDER


I use an electric Coffee GRINDER to mill Flax seed...the same mill my husband uses for his coffee...  I really need to get a second mill for dedicated Flax seed use, because wiping out the coffee or flax residue with paper towels all the time is a bit of a pain, but we've been doing that for years now, so I guess it's not so much of a pain that we are running out to spend $20 to rectify the situation!


http://www.amazon.com/Krups-203-42-Touch-Coffee-Grinder/dp/B00004SPEU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1238484794&sr=8-1

Susan-MN's picture
Susan-MN

If the recipe you are using includes any liquid, try adding that to the food processor or blender along with your quinoa... 


For flax seed, I've had success using a high-speed & powerful blender [the Bosch blender attachment for my Bosch Universal Miser] and adding flax seed to juice or batters... 


But for just flax seed alone... I'd stick w/ a coffee grinder for that job.

Aprea's picture
Aprea

do you have a suggestion in how I can utilize this grain?  I need a basic recipe so I can bake for a friend who is ultra organic - she is a breast cancer survivor using holistic methods - she explained to me the benefits of flax - and after doing my own research I was blown away.  I was hoping to find something that utilizes my starter.


 


Thank you - Anna

pjaj's picture
pjaj

Although I do not own a grain mill, I think that the technical difference between a true mill and a food processor / blender is as follows


The mill uses two slightly rough stones (natural, artificial or steel plates) one fixed, the other rotating relatively slowly to crush the grain. They usually have a slightly conical gap or some equivalent set-up so that the only way the broken grain can get to the outlet is to be in sufficiently small size pieces to pass through the gap at the closest point of the stones - i.e. as flour. The flour grains will be fairly uniform size because of this arrangement. The exact mechanical details mayl vary from make to make, for example the stones may contra-rotate.


On the other hand a processor / blender has a number of blades, usually two, that rotate at high speed and hit / cut the grain at random. Some grains will be reduced to a fine powder whilst others will be left nearly whole. It is difficult to grind anything to a uniform size (dust and lumps).


Some food mixers have a grain mill attachment, you may find that a more economical alternative, especially if you only want to grind grain occasionaly.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I've been using my coffee grinder to grind rye, wheat and spelt, but in many occasions I had the feeling that the flour was "cooked" and dead to some extent. I had to grind for no more than 30 seconds to prevent overheating it.

genem5329's picture
genem5329

That's interesting!  I have ground my own WW for the last 15 years using a Magic Mill II high speed mill and have never had a problem with the flour going rancid.  I have sometimes kept it for several weeks and it looks, smells, tastes and performs as it did when freshly ground.  The nice thing about a mill is that you can control how course or fine the flour is ground.


Gene



HoneyEastman's picture
HoneyEastman

I just learned about grinding the wheat berries yesterday.  I have read that with a VitaMix you have to watch that the flour doesn't get hot and turn rancid.  I know with a wheat grinder you can't grind any grain that is oily such as Flax.  I have seen recipes for grinding wheat in a food processor  but it says to soak the wheat berries.  I don't think I want them to be wet as the recipe that I have and was shown how to make ground the wheat then added everything else.  If you plan on making your own bread frequently buying a grinder and a bosch mixer are your best bet.  Expensive but well worth it as far as ease and convenience.

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