My New Toy
I've been baking bread occasionally for several years, but it's only within the last year or so that I've started to become particularly interested in it. I've also shifted gradually to baking more and more with whole grains, until these days probably only 5% or so of the loaves I make use white flour. I've been wanting to purchase a grain mill for quite some time to use in my bread-baking, but kept putting off the purchase. I knew very little about mills, and wanted to be sure that I researched my decision thoroughly. In addition, I'm a serious tightwad and mills aren't cheap.
However, I finally made a purchase and received my mill yesterday. After repeatedly reading about every website about grain mills written in English and most of those in German (seriously), I decided to purchase the German-made KoMo Fidibus Classic mill, more commonly known in the US as the Wolfgang or Wolfgang Tribest mill. Those of you who own mills likely know more about the pros/cons of this and other models than I do and those of you that don't probably don’t care, but in brief this is a small stone mill. It has the advantage of being able to grind any coarseness, from cracked grains to fine flour. It has the disadvantages of not being able to handle beans, nuts, and seeds and the fact that stone-ground flour tends not to rise as well (though I've found this difference minor when purchasing commercial stone-ground flour). It's small size means that I can easily fit it into my kitchen and that it's cheaper than many alternatives, but also that it requires around five minutes to produce one pound of fine flour - fast enough for me, but perhaps not for others.
Of course, a grain mill isn't much use unless you also have some grains. There are some grains that I can get locally, but even with shipping, most are cheaper (and arguably higher-quality) online. I purchased a few items from Wheat Montana and the rest from Azure Standard. Grains will keep for quite some time, so I bought in fairly large quantities. My long-term storage solution, utilizing the gamma seal lids that I've seen recommended on TFL and elsewhere, is pictured below.
Digging into those buckets every time I'm baking is not real practical, so I also needed a more kitchen-friendly, short-term storage solution. I ended up going with a set of metal canisters ranging is size from 2 to 4 quarts. This is large enough that I will not need to refill them too frequently, but small enough that I can remove them from the top of my cupboards without too much work. Many of the canisters shown below are empty since not all of my grains have arrived yet, but 11 of the 12 are earmarked for something. I haven't decided what to put in the last one...maybe wild rice?
Because I just got the mill and haven't gotten many of my grains, I've only used it in one loaf so far (Peter Reinhart's multigrain struan, pictured below). I haven't cut into it yet, but the rise appears to be just fine (higher than I'd expect in fact, considering that it contains 12 ounces flour and 6 ounces whole grains). I have a list of at least a dozen recipes that I immediately want to try with the mill...it will take a bit to work through them all, but then that's the whole point! Thanks to everyone here who has posted anything about mills at one time or another; I can pretty much guarantee that I've read your comments at least half a dozen times. If anyone is considering a mill purchase and has questions, I'll be happy to go into greater detail on why I purchased what I did (though I'm certainly not an expert, and once you get me started on mills these days it's hard to get me to stop).