If we are serious about making healthy delicious baked goods for our families, fresh ground flour is key. It is the biggest game changer in terms of nutrition and taste. It will yield the best returns in improved health because it produces a truly wholesome product. Today it is easy to make your own fresh flour at home using a grain mill.
Home grain mills are small appliances that sit on your kitchen counter and are used to grind (or mill) different grains into flour. Grain goes into a hopper, usually at the top of the mill, and is ground it into fresh nutritious flour. Most mills give you some level of control over the fineness or coarseness of the flour.
This article seeks to answers questions you may have about grain mills. What is a grain mill? How does it work? What can you grind in a grain mill? How much do mills cost and is it really worth it? I will also address options and tradeoffs for different types of mills.
What can you grind in a grain mill?
Most mills are able to grind a variety of grains and dry beans, make sure they are dry. This includes, but is not limited to wheat, rye, quinoa, rice, oats, lentils, barley, pinto beans, chickpeas and millet. This produces flavor and nutrition store flours cannot match. This also means you no longer pay for expensive specialty flours. You can make them fresh for pennies on the dollar.
What a grain mill cannot grind?
There are some things you should not put in your grain mill. Any grain that has already been processed should not be ground. This means rolled oats or other rolled grains. These can be turned into flour in a blender or food processor.
Dont grind oily seeds in your grain mill. Do not put flaxseeds or sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, chia seeds or coffee beans in your grain mill. Do not attempt to grind any nuts in your grain mill. A coffee grinder handles these quite well.
And corn… although dried field corn and popcorn are grains, they are really hard for your electric grain mill to handle. These are best done in a hand cranked mill. This will make the best cornmeal you have ever tasted.
Different Types of Grain Mills
There are several grain mills available for the home baker, but basically there are two types: mills with grinding burrs (usually made of stone, steel, or ceramic and impact mills. Burr mills give you the greatest control over the coarseness of the grain. while impact mills make a high volume of flour quickly. Burr mills are quieter while impact mills are noisy.
|Grinding Mechanism||Powered By||Grinding speed||Volume|
|Grinding burrs||Hand Crank||as fast as you can crank it out||Very Quiet|
|Grinding burrs||Electricity||6-7 oz/minute||Quiet|
|Microburst Impact Heads||Electricity||20 cups flour in about 5 minutes||Noisy|
Why would you want a grain mill?
The basic answer is freshness, nutrition and taste. Convenience is a close fourth. Oh, let’s not forget that home ground flour makes home made even more home made.
While there are many sources for whole grain flours, Whole grain flour purchased from grocery stores is not as fresh as home ground flour. The bread and baked goods you make from them will not and cannot ever be as nutritious and delicious as those made from your own home ground flour. Store flour has been ground, packaged, and shipped to a warehouse before it comes to the grocery store. It then sits on the shelf waiting for you to buy it. Your home ground flour is fresh and whole (meaning all of the parts of the wheat berry are still there). Even if you don’t use all of the flour on the day you grind it, it will still be fresher and more nutritious than store flour when you use it a few days later. With all that said, whole wheat store flour, though not as fresh is definitely better than depleted white flour.
How much does a grain mill cost and is it really worth it?
Depending on the type you decide to purchase, you can expect to spend anywhere from under $100.00 for a small hand cranked grain mill to over $1,000 for a very featured electric grain mill. However, most hand operated and electric grain mills run between $200 and $500 dollars.
A grain mill is definitely worth the investment. We bought our first grain mill when we were very low income. I learned to make bread by hand so we could have the benefit of fresh flour. The cost is a little bit of a step in some cases, but the quality of food prepared with fresh flours is very high, and you will get specialty flours for a fraction of the cost of store flour and especially store baked goods.
So yes, on all counts, a grain mill is worth putting in the budget.
What if I don’t have a grain mill?
If you want the benefits of whole grain flour and don’t have a grain mill yet, the next best thing is to find someone who has one who will help you out.
After that you can look for flour in local health food stores and on the internet. A quick search revealed multiple small businesses who grind small batches of flour to order and will ship it to you.
In a pinch, you can buy store flour. Always remember to look at the use by date. Whole grain flour does get rancid when it gets too old because the germ goes bad. So that date is important to note.
What can I do with fresh flour?
Once you have your freshly ground flour, you can make so many different things. Pancakes and waffles are a favorite here. Homemade bread, whether quick breads, yeast or sourdoughs made from fresh flour are wonderful. The gluten free flours you have been buying are easily and inexpensively produced in your kitchen. Cookies, muffins, and even cakes are best made with soft wheat or hard white wheat. (More on that in articles about grains that will follow.) Breakfast cereals like cracked oats or multigrain cereals can also be made by coarsely grinding grains. Make sure you get a mill that can grind coarsely enough for cereals if that is one of your targets. There is so much to learn and do with fresh flours. I hope you will take this journey with me and many others who have found joy in this pursuit.
So, there you have it. Do you have any questions about grain mills that I didn’t answer? Any tidbits you would like to share with me? Let me know in the comments.