The Fresh Loaf

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Mills seem expensive - other options?

hamletcat's picture

Mills seem expensive - other options?

I did some quick research on electric mills, and they seem really pricey for home use.  Is there another option when working with whole grains, gluten and gluten free?  My issue mainly seems to be getting the grains ground fine enough, especially the grains that still have the husks, germ, bran etc. which affects gluten development when mixing with wheat flour.

proth5's picture

I try to stay out of stuff like this, but I do know something about milling, so here goes.

What grains are you trying to grind with husks on them? I ask this because generally, we like to have the husks removed before milling, but since you also mentioned gluten free I was pondering that you are milling some exotic grains.

If you are doing wheat, rye, oats, triticale you don't want to buy grain with husks on.

Yes, mills can seem pricey, but as with all mechanical devices, they aren't getting the price drops that we have come to expect with electronics. As with everything, you get what you pay for and any mill you purchase should be versatile enough so that you can make it a lifetime purchase and not have regrets and the strong desire to buy a new one in just a few years.

But you mention milling both glutinous and gluten free grains. One of the reasons I don't get involved with milling "gluten free" is that to really promise that the flour has not been contaminated by gluten bearing grains, you have to have a very, very rigorous cleaning regimen,  or two mills. Komo offers an insert for some of their mills that allows this kind of changeover, but it, too is not inexpensive.

Nutrimills are probably the least expensive of the real flour mills, but they are also the least versatile.

Frankly, folks propose all kinds of alternatives - coffee grinders, Vita-mix blenders (not a cheap tool, either), that attachment that goes on the Kitchen Aid, inexpensive hand mills (like the Corona) (Because trust me, when you get into the world of quality hand mills, you are talking more money than electric mills) and most of them fall short in delivering a quality flour. You want a mill that can be adjusted for fineness, but is capable of grinding a very fine flour. The Ankarsrum mixer has a grain mill attachment at a reasonable price, I would guess, given the quality of the mixer it would work well, but you have to buy the expensive mixer.

You can deal with bran by sifting, but if you are only milling to the point where you still get chunks of grain, your yields will be very low.

I can actually "remill" bran so that is as fine as most store bough whit flours, but that takes a very good mill and frankly, a lot of work. My best home milled flour is much finer and more silky than store bought, but you want a mill that can at least give you the texture of high quality store bought whole wheat.

And the tool that can do that will cost you.

If you are content with lower quality, I've gone through some suggestions.

I got the mill that everyone hates me for on eBay - for a fraction of what it would have cost if I had gone retail. You might try there.

My other mill is a Komo, and I got it "slightly used" from the Pleasant Hill Grain clearance bin. Not free, but deeply discounted (a dent or two in the case...). And while my Komo doesn't grind as finely as my first mill, it is electric and so convenient. I would highly recommend Komo mills.

I know I sound a bit fixed in my opinions on the subject, but, well, quality mechanical tools cost a bit of change. Finding creative venues to buy the quality tool is the option I would recommend.



JessicaW3's picture

I have a Wondermill and I use it all the time.  I mostly do wheat and corn into cornmeal.  I'm not an expert at all, but I have been happy with it for the past 7 or 8 years.  I had an attachment for my KitchenAid before that but it was loud and cumbersome and I couldn't do much at a time.

It would be nearly impossible to sanitize it after grinding wheat for gluten-free needs, I think.  Too much of the interior is inaccessible.

hamletcat's picture

The two grains that I use that have the husks, bran, germ etc.  are wild buckwheat and plantago, and the seeds are too difficult to separate because there are small, it is much easier to mill them whole.  Right now I am using a coffee grinder, but I am getting poor gluten development when mixing with gluten flour.  I tried the same recipe with  oat fiber flour and got excellent gluten development, but it was commercially ground.  The buckwheat and plantago, I would have to mill myself.  I am hesitant in buying any expensive product these days because things just don't stand up to their reputation.  Most products just seem to wind up in landfill or don't do what they claim.  I just assume the same would be true of a home milling device.

I should mention that I don't need a gluten free mill, when I meant by gluten free was just that some of my grains don't have any gluten protein in them.  Since I mix these flours with gluten flour anyways, it doesn't matter if I also use the grinder for wheat berries.

proth5's picture

two grains with which I am not familiar. I do mill buckwheat, but only hulled buckwheat. I would wonder if the issue is with the buckwheat hulls.

One of the reason for the high prices on some home mills is that they really aren't mass market. I do understand your perception as many brands have compromised their quality to meet price points and things have suffered for it.

My Diamant (at its eye popping price) will outlast me, I am certain (all cast iron construction). Komos seem to be living up to their reputation as quality mills and have long warrantees.

However, I would have a conversation with the mill's dealer about milling unhulled buckwheat and if that would be too stressful for the mill in question.

SweetMK's picture

It is too bad somebody does not start offering a kit again, we built one from the $15 kit in 1977, and it is still going strong.

The kit did not include the motor, tray, or wood, but, it sure was easy to build. I am not a woodworker, hence the big screws in the side.

The only service needed in over 35 years is the $10 capacitor dried out twice in the motor, an easy swap-out replacement.

ElPanadero's picture

It's true that electirc grain mills are somewhat expensive though you can pick up a manual hand mill for less than £50 but it will take lonfer to produce the flour and of course more effort!

The decision to invest or not in a grain mill depends on your needs and reasons imo. From a basic financial perspective, home milling doesn't stack up. This is because it is actually cheaper to buy sacks of flour than sacks of grains. In industry terms this is somewhat of a paradigm, but in effect it's just a scam. The scam not only affects the price of grains but also the price of white flour. Why is ita scam? Simply because going from grains to flour involves the additional process of milling which expends time and effort. So the price of grains ought to be much cheaper than flour itself. Equally, the price of plain white flour is cheaper than the price of whole wheat flour. Again there is no reason for this. To get to white flour, you first have to mill wheat grains to produce wheat flour and then you have to go through the additional process of sifting that wheat flour with fine sieve/mesh so only the endosperm (white flour) comes through. So again, extra time and effort is expended in business terms to produce white flour so it ought to be more expensive than straight forward wheat flour, yet it isn't !!! Consumers obviously use and buy more white flour than wheat flour, so the retailers hike the price unfairly.

So what are the reasons for home milling if it doesn't save money? I would offer the following:

Long Term Storage

Grains can be stored indefinitely if packed correctly, up to 20 yrs at least. They are therefore a key and vital element to any survivalist or prudent person wanting to ensure they have long term foods at home in case of nationwide disaster or disruption. Knowing you can make bread for months or years in a disaster scenario is a great confidence booster.


Flour goes rancid after a number of weeks/months. What you buy in the shops is not necessarily fresh. When you mill grains, the flour is as fresh as it possibly can be and should taste better as a result.

Peace Of Mind

When you mill your own grain you know exactly what you are getting. It is flour from the grain and nothing else. Nothing added, no bleaches or chemicals.

All The Goodness

When you mill your own flour you are getting all the nutrition and goodness from the grain as nature provides. You get the Wheatgerm, the bran and the endosperm all mixed together. Of course you would get the same from shop bought wheat flour if it is good but it may not be as fresh as home milled.

Storage Control and No Waste

As said earlier, flour goes rancid after a period of time. If you buy flour and fail to use it then it can be wasted. With home milling you make exactly the amount of flour you need at any point in time so nothing is wasted. Remember the grains last years.

Overall, unless you are looking for a long term food storage / survivalist solution, then a grain mill is a luxury. As an owner of a Schnitzer Mill all I can say is that it is a thing of beauty, and it produces great flour whilst allowing me to buy and store grains for long term food storage. I still buy white flour (as sifting is laborious) but I guess if I had to I could make my own.


SweetMK's picture

I just watched an episode of ATK on PBS, they made a "flour" out of rolled oats, The oats were sauteed in butter, then let set for 20 minutes, allowing the butter to soak in.

The oats were thrown into a food processor, and "ground" into a flour consistency.

Could the trick to coarse flour be letting the flour have a time period to absorb some moisture, then it will act like a fine flour? 

I know my wife makes a chocolate whole wheat cake with home ground flour, that ALWAYS is more moist tasting the second day,,,,