The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New "Grainmill" Grain Mill on Market - Any Users?

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

New "Grainmill" Grain Mill on Market - Any Users?

I've recently noticed a new (well, new to me) manual grain mill on the market made in the USA and available from www.grainmaker.com. It's design is very similar to The Country Living grain mill (I would characterize the Country Living grain mill as a high-end, well made mill).

And it has an unusual grove pattern in the milling plates



Anyone have any experience with this brand? I'm especially interested in how well the grinding plates fit together (the mark of a superior mill).

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Unless you are convinced that we are about to lose electrical power, I wouldn't suggest a manual mill.  It is far more work than most people are willing to put forth on a regular basis just to make bread, and manual mills tend to become dust catchers.

 

I would suggest that if the USA becomes a post electrical society that we'll have many other problems, and finding grain to grind could become problematical.   If you are concerned about the disaster scenario, you might get a mill that can be used manually or motorized.   You'll have convenience until the end of the world as we know it.

Mike 

martin's picture
martin

I had a manual mill for a while and as Mike says "It is far more work.....?

I however motorised mine and it worked very well for several years till I just had to get something bigger. Mine was from Retsel.

 

You may the mill you mention has an option to add a motor.

 

regards

 

Martin Prior

www.bakerette-cafe.com

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

While I appreciate the comments so far, I am really looking for responses from anyone who has actually used this grain mill. I'm especially interested in the precision of the casting and the unusual design of the milling plates (the looped star pattern in the center). Most mills with this design (a fixed circular plate and a rotating circular plate) simply have straight lines radiating out from the center; anyone care to speculate how this particular grove pattern would affect milling grain?

I've been milling my own grain since the mid 70s. I've used both manual and motorized mills and am familiar with the difference. The first two grain mills I purchased were manual mills. I currently own and use the older model of the Kitchen Aid grain mill attachment and a Nutrimill.

Still hoping for feedback...TIA

proth5's picture
proth5

It takes me about an hour to grind 20 oz of wheat berries.  However, my grinding method involves making about 5 or 6 passes through the mill at increasing fineness of grind and sifting the output in between each pass so that I extract some of the bran.  My flour is 80-85%  extraction and is fine and silky - finer than most commercial flours.  When I was doing wheat berry to flour in one pass, it took me about 15 mins to do 20 oz of wheat berries.

I use plastic soil classifiers from lmine.com  I use the #20, 30, and 50 to sift my results.  The plastic classifiers sit neatly on my "big bowl" and sifting goes pretty easily. 

My baguettes are made with KA all purpose flour.  I am gearing up to produce white flour in high enough quantities to use in baking.  I do get white flour as a result of my grinding process, but to date I have been blending some of the bran back into it.

I got my weight lifing in by building raised beds for my gardening and I will never garden any other way.  But surely those are Bernese Mountain dogs in your picture.  In colonial times they used dog treadmills to power things.  If only you could find a good dog treadmill - I bet the dogs would love the work!

Hope this helps.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Great info Pat, thanks! I esp. appreciate the link to the sifters, those look like they will work well. I was thinking the same thing about the dogs, they do love to have a job, it would be great to harness that power, they are Berners and were used Switzerland to haul carts of milk from pasture to cheesemaking barns.

proth5's picture
proth5

I have a list of things to do when I "retire" and the Bernese Mountain dog is on the short list for my "retirement dog." I used to show a dog in AKC obedience trials - very different from a pure working dog (very precise work - if I said "sit straight" once I must have said it thousands of times...) but I think it does give a dog a better life if there is some purpose to it. I like the idea of having a dog haul a cart.  I know they have trials for this and again it would give me the chance to work with a dog without the infinite fussiness of the show ring.

OK - now I've veered way off topic....

Happy Baking!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Pat.

I'm not quite ready to take the plunge and start home milling, but I can feel the suction.

I am intrigued by the notion of making my own high extraction flour. As a first experiment, last night I bought a couple pounds of Giusto's coarse-ground whole wheat flour and sifted it with a traditional crank flour sifter. I imagine this has a coarser mesh than what you use, but I don't know.

Anyway, I put 800 gms of flour in and got 450 gms out. What came out looked like brownish, whole wheat flour, just finer than what went in. What was retained did not look like bran; it looked liked cracked wheat. I assume it was just the bigger hunks of the wheat berries. I assume I also retained the bigger flakes of bran, but the smaller ones passed through.

This made me wonder how your sifting process preferentially removes bran rather than just every part of the wheat berry that exceeds the size of your mesh openings.

I feel I know less today than I (thought) I knew yesterday.

David

proth5's picture
proth5

The sifting process only removes particles larger than the mesh.  The trick is to get those partoicles to be mostly bran.

The tempering process (adding controlled amounts of water to the grain and letting the moisture balance out over time) toughens the bran.  This is an important step because we want the bran to endure the milling process a bit better than the endosperm.

A couple of mill passes to crack the grain and sifting through a coarse mesh (probably about the same as your sifter) leaves nothing but brown flakes in the sieve.  Is it all bran?  Probably not.  But it is mostly bran and germ - no powdery residue.  Close enough.  It is not a perfect world. This continues until 80-85% by weight of the grain passes through the seive.  The remaining "bran" is removed from the process.

What passes through the coarse sieve has flecks of bran in it.  So it is sifted through a finer seive and becomes mostly white.  I could at that point put it through my fine sieve and get all white flour.  I haven't run the numbers, but this might represent clear flour.

Finer and finer mill passes and finer sieves and I can get quite white flour with only "brown stuff" left in my sieve.  Again, I'll call it bran.  It certainly acts like bran and contains no white powdery material. The white flour would include almost all of the endosperm and might be considered akin to all purpose flour.

To get high extraction flour, I re-mill the bran (minus the stuff that I removed earlier) and blend it back into my white flour.  I can never quite get all of the "brown" stuff" to mill as fine as the "white stuff."  At some point I decide that I am tired and just blend it back in.  But this supports my point about making the bran tougher so that when there are large particles, they are bran.  After blending, my flour is a very light tan with a silky feel.  It does not reveal a brown color until it meets water.  Some day I must do a Pekar test with the results of various phases to illustrate my results.  Some day...

My lab results indicate that this flour has good baking properties. 

This is nothing like what you are experiencing.  I don't know how your flour was produced or how it was reblended after milling (and it probably was.)  I was never quite happy with the "just sift commercial whole wheat" line (or sifting my one pass ground whole wheat for that matter.)  At this point you are taking the results of someone else's milling and pulling out the big chunks.  Depending on how the flour was milled and reblended, these might be bran.  The way I temper, mill, sift, and reblend, I increase the chance that they are.  (Oh the talking and the yelling and the "double dog dare you"'s that went on when I was working with the miche-p-a-c that led me to read countless documents about milling- and blog endlessly with bwraith -  and develop this method!  Well worth all of it.)

So is it a perfect process? No.  But it does make use of the varying qualities of the layers in the wheat berry so as to create different  results from varying milling passes.  This is why I get lost in wonder about bags and bags of pure white flour being sold ever so cheaply in the market.  Of course, mine has better taste...

Hope this helps.

Pat

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

1. You need to do something special to the wheat berries before milling to be able to easily separate the bran from everything else. (Special = tempering)

2. When flour has already been milled, trying to separate the bran and leave everything else is chancey to futile.

3. It might be worthwhile to try progressive sifting using a series of finer and finer mesh, but don't count on it.

Thanks, Pat!

David

leucadian's picture
leucadian

I ran the same experiment as David today, prompted by this thread, by Jane and Steve's experiments with American and French flours, and then finally by Norm's distribution of first clear.

I sifted Bob's Red Mill Organic whole wheat with a fine strainer, and got 466g sifted flour and 23g bran. These numbers give me 4.7% bran, and 95.3% extraction, if I understand it correctly, and the purchased flour was 100% extraction. The bran was definitely bran: not cracked berries, just red bran, with little to no taste on the tongue. As I sifted the last bit of bran, the output was fine particles of the same reddish bran. The overall flour output was reddish, and looked and tasted like whole wheat.

I am guessing that Bob's WW is milled pretty fine, and some of the bran just slips through, but all the endosperm and germ pass through. With the Giusto WW, on the other hand, there must be some cracked wheat either added in or otherwise escaping the sifting process in the mill, only to be caught by your in-the-bakery sifting.

Maybe Pat sifts at an intermediate stage when the bran flakes are relatively big, and the rest is just fine milled flour. Her sifting is not the same as yours and mine, since she can continue milling the extracted flour. It will be interesting to find out more. [Edit: I took too long to finish this and Pat posted ahead of me. I'd like to hear more, though.]

Stewart

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

I had a similar experience as David a few years ago with Hodgson Mill Graham WW Flour, but it may have also been due to not having good sifting equipment. Thanks for the addl. tips, Pat. I see I have more reading to catch up on with Bill Wraith's threads, I see he's gotten not only into home milling since we last spoke, but now has a wood-fired bread oven (I'm jealous!).

David, the suction toward the grain mill is strong! If that annoying thing called work wasn't in the way, I'd love to have a flock of chickens, build a wood bread oven in my yard, get a grain mill, get a couple of dairy goats and make cheese, a couple of beehives, I could go on...probably a good thing I have to go to work. It would be fun to fresh mill some wheat  just even for WW flour though, so I may get sucked in yet...

xaipete's picture
xaipete

The Nutrimill appears to fleck off part of the bran on some of the grains. In other words, when I look in the hopper after grinding there is a specific area that has a lot of bran 'flakes'. I don't know what percentage this area represents but the next time I grind, I'll weight it and take a couple of pictures.

Long before I joined this forum, I concluded, rightly or wrongly, that if I stirred the bran back in to the flour, I would have the equivalent of graham flour, and that if I sifted it out, I would have the equivalent of whole wheat flour.

--Pamela

Aprea's picture
Aprea

I would love to see pictures of your raised beds - what materials do you use to do so?  I am very interested in gardening - the problem is my backyard has an oak canopy  - the part that does get direct sun is only hot florida afternoon sun.  The joy of gardening is equal to baking.

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

Can I post a picture of my new raised bed too?  :)

I just built (another) one in our back yard here in Alaska.  We're getting dialed in fairly well for growing good crops at the 65th parallel... Noting that ours start later than most areas, but then grow much faster due to the perpetual sun we have all summer.

Brian

 

proth5's picture
proth5

But here is a picture of "most" of my garden.  It is very small but very productive.  Everything is trellised to within an inch of its life.  That is a pumpkin growing over the arbor.  Saw this in a garden in France - growing small pumpkins on an arbor...

Garden

I built the raised beds from kits.  They are cedar and have been in use since 2001.  I believe I got the kits from Gardener's Supply by mail.  The arbor I also built from a kit which came by mail from a company that changed its name and now I don't know what it is. (Warning!! Danger!!! I will never - ever do this again.  The thing is teak and it was exhausting just to move the pieces around.  People will look at little old me and then at the arbor and say "no way...")

The soil is a mix of topsoil and compost constantly ammended with compost and what I call "fish by-products" from cleaning the koi pond.  It has never been stepped on.  Once a year I loosen the soil with a broadfork - which is fun.  My primary weed problem is self inflicted - I allowed some heirloom morning glories to naturalize and now they sprout up everywhere - although once they get the arbor covered they are quite a sight.

I live with mature trees but with summer sun angles and careful plant selection I can raise crops in my entire front yard... 

And as you can see - I live in the city.   

 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Your garden looks real nice, Pat. --Pamela

Aprea's picture
Aprea

Thank you for getting off topic for me - it is very nice - I have seen those kits - I need to get some advice from an expert before I try anything like that - they say a garden will work anyplace that grows weeds - and I have plenty of those in my afternoon sunny patch...

 

 

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

Here's our gardens (part of):

Right after it was built and filled.  Pressure treated wood used where ground contact existed, but not where roots/plants grow.  The soil is a mixture of top soil, compost, and steer manure.  We only fertilize with organic (fish etc) fertilizers and always treat roots/plantings with mycorrhiza fungi.  The fungi is a beneficial fungi that forms a symbiosis with the plants and makes them GROW GROW GROW...

 

Here it is a couple of weeks later.  You can almost see the plants grow while you watch.  The red plastic is for the tomatos.  It seems to work better than other soil warming ideas.  The carrots (nearer to the right) are the slowest in coming up, but grow late into Fall.

 

Our well water comes up from almost 500' deep and is 38 F when it comes out of the ground.  We keep black trash cans like this one filled so the sun will warm the water before we use it for watering.  Watering with warm water results in growth, while watering with 38 F water shocks plants into submission.

 

Here's our raspberries.  I cut them way back this year and they are producing berries anyway ...even though they shouldn't.  The breed is special for the arctic and not very distant from the wild raspberries that we have around here.

 

Brian

 

 

johnster's picture
johnster

I may have fantasized about doing my own milling before, but, "Wow!"  That's a lot to know!  

 

On the topic of which mill is best, I would never have even guessed that a hand-cranked mill could go for over a thousand dollars.

 

My $.02 about the Grainmaker....It's awfully goofy when a commercial site has a counter in public display on the bottom of the web page, and even more goofy when I am the two thousand seven hundred and sixty-third person to visit said site.  How many of these units have they sold so far?  Like, three?

 

Johnster

proth5's picture
proth5

There is a broad spectrum of home milling - from those who have micronizer mills to what bwraith has (and his setup is impressive).  I fall more towards the over the top home miller side.

Fresh ground whole wheat flour from a micronizer mill is easy to do (do NOT temper this wheat) and has proved delightful for many people.  So, if you just want the taste and nutrition of freshly ground flour - relax.  You can get this with relatively small cost and without having to know every little detail of the milling process.

If you are a maniac (like myself) this will take you as deep as you are willing to go.  No wonder the village miller was such a valuable person! The wheat must be good, but the skill of the miller is what brings us our assortment of flours.

(To venture "off topic" - I knit.  Which of course led me down the path of learning how to spin.  This required a good wheel, so my father, who is a hobby woodworker and I developed the ultimate wheel (he had a small hobby business of making custom wheels for a while - but has now "retired" from that), and then I learned not only how to spin, but to grow and process my own flax.  So, you see, I am a maniac.  I can't help myself...)

And yes, that Diamant is expensive (used to be a little more resaonable, but the dollar dropped in value...). But it is an incredibly versatile mill and if you have ever had your hands on one, you realize it is built for you to use and pass down to your children and grandchildren.  It is a luxury item to perform a "humble" task, but if it lasts three or four generations, the cost per mill pass gets to be prety small - if you want to look at it that way.

So, in summary, it can be as easy or as complex as you want to make it to mill your own flour. As always, you must follow the path that is most satisfying for you...

Happy Baking!

Pat

 

charbono's picture
charbono

 

Did you buy a new mill?  If you're still interested in millstone patterns, check these:

http://www.gristmillers.com/millstones/patents/

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

I'm also in the market for a manual flour (grain) mill, and happen to have a spare universal variable speed motor from another project that I can use for motorizing the thing if it proves too hard to use manually.  After looking into the Grainmaker, I was about to pull the trigger on buying one, but then I found the following review:

http://www.grainmillcomparison.com/2009/05/grainmaker-review.html

The guy that wrote this is a 190# guy that lifts weights and he found the Grainmaker too hard to use unless the grain cracker auger, about which he says "useless ...throw it away", is taken out.  Quality of flour is no different or better than the Wonder Junior or Country Living Grain Mill.  Yes, it's built hell-bent for stout, but it sounds like it's difficult to use compared to the others and that a strong motor is the only real solution.  Since I found someone who will ship to Alaska for free, or for cheap ($17 for Priority Mail), I'm going to buy the Country Living Mill instead.  It's got a bigger wheel/pulley on it and should be easier for my arm or motor to turn...

Brian

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

a BIG thank you to TFL member tananaBrian

In his post of June 11, 2008, Brian gave a link to an excellent blog that reviews many of the most popular manual grain mills on the USA market.

The link is incredibly valuable because the blogger compares grain mills; this will help the home miller make an informed decision.

Again, thank you Brian, for providing this link. - SF

lsume's picture
lsume

Something that I found was that the Diamant has a flywheel.  Since I am an me, the flywheel should take away most of the potential strain.  Perhaps someone has already addressed that issue.  If so, I am very interested since I'm being evaluated to sell that particular brand.  Also, has anyone out here in virtual space actually used both the Diamant and the Grainmaker.  If so, which do you recommend and why.

 

Thank you