Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255. This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
How would you like to get your flour cheaper, tastier… and, to boot, significantly healthier? A grain mill may not be high up your list of future purchases, but you might want to reconsider, as your kitchen and your family stand to benefit immensely from one of these — especially if you’re a baker! Here we will go over the benefits of a grain mill, how to identify your best fit, and a few great options for you to consider.
See also: These Industrial kitchen design accessories for your pantry go hand in hand with storing your wheat berries and other grains!
Why It’s Worth It
Commercial flours come without the grain’s germ and bran. This makes them durable on the shelf and in your pantry, but it removes a high percentage of nutrients and almost completely negates the many benefits associated with eating whole grain, such as a healthier digestive tract and reduced risk of type 2 Diabetes. Here are other perks from milling your own flour:
- No additives. Your flour is as pure as it can possibly get.
- Whole grain (not yet milled) easily outlasts commercial flour in storage.
- Freshly milled cereals taste remarkably better.
The Inner Workings
The core principle is the same: turning grain into flour or meal. The resulting texture will vary depending on how exactly the grain is processed (by bursting, crushing, shredding, etc). What follows is a breakdown of how the mechanism may vary.
The grain is poured in between two plates; one is fixed, and the other is made to rotate by the power source, which can be either electric or manual. The burrs in certain models will be capable of working with a wider variety of foods, and the appropriate choice will allow you to swap burrs so you can tackle more than one type of item.
The plates in question will be made of either of these two materials:
Stone: A great choice if you want a wider range of texture, they turn at an overall slower speed. Nowadays, the stone involved is usually synthetic, so it will last longer and shed no grit into your meal. These are unsuitable for wet foods or anything that can generate oil.
Steel: These are the way to go if you plan on working with oily foods. They are quieter, and their hardy construction makes them able to tackle just about anything you want pulverized.
Two steel heads with rows of teeth spin at high velocity. The grain is poured in between and turned into flour through constant hammering. Impact mills will be electric only, unlike burr mills, and they are uniquely suited to produce fine flours for baking. Dry foods only.
Grain For The Grain Mill
Back in the day you had to rely on local sources to procure your whole grain. Nowadays, ordering online will make it much simpler. Here’s a few examples to get you started.
4lbs, resealable Kraft bag. Field traced: visiting the manufacturer’s website and inputting a code will reveal the field where your batch was grown, and when it was harvested. Kosher, non-GMO, non-irradiated. Certified by the Food Alliance and Whole Grains Council.
25-lb bag. Whole grain rye berries, cleaned and ready to mill or cook whole.
12lbs, cleaned, hull intact. Non-irradiated, non-GMO, Kosher certified; sproutable, suitable for malting.
The Heat Controversy
As it gets ground, your grain heats up; the finer it gets processed, the higher the temperature. Certain sources raise a concern about loss of nutrients due to the heat; some experts, however, are not so certain.
A study published in 2015 by the American Association of Cereal Chemists International (AACCI) dug deeper into this issue and found that not only had these adverse effects not been properly documented, but that the higher temperature could actually improve the nutritional value of certain whole grains. However, if you would rather not risk it, you have alternatives:
- Choose a model that will keep air flowing in to keep the grinding chamber cool, or one which runs at lower RPMs (which will limit options to hand-cranked)
- Let your grain rest in the freezer for a few hours before grinding it.
What To Keep In Mind
Here’s what will make a difference as you go about choosing your preferred mill.
A bigger hopper will take in more grain for processing in one go. This is often measured in cups.
You get two options: manual, which can’t go very fast and therefore runs cooler and with less noise; and electric, which saves you energy and time, and is usually able to yield a wider variety of textures, including the very fine flour required for baking.
Some models are convertible: they can switch between manual an electric. This could prove particularly useful during power outages, or when your arm needs a break.
Defined as how many ounces your mill will process in a minute. A higher number here is certainly desirable (especially if you bake in large volumes), but it may come with a potential drawback we address in our next point.
A mill powered by electricity will more easily manage to process larger loads, faster than if it were done by hand; often, this will make it more strident as it works, although some modern mills do address this problem and manage to work more silently.
Food You Will Grind (And Desired Texture)
Coarse meal? Fine flour? Oily, dry? As we go over individual appliances, we will be mentioning what they are best at, and what they can’t handle.
Best Manual Grain Mill: Victoria GRN-100, Cast Iron
Secure it to your table with the built-in clamp, and put it to work with just about anything: seeds, grains, even cheese and cooked meats! Turn the adjusting screw to select how fine or coarse you want it.
The cast iron body features a double-tin plating to increase resistance to stains and corrosion. Discs are made in white iron for improved durability and performance. Available with a higher hopper for larger grain capacity.
Table must be between ½ inch and 2 inches for the clamp to work.
- Works with almost anything.
- Requires significant physical effort to work with it.