SELECTING A GRAIN MILL
When someone becomes interested in better nutrition for their
family through learning to bake whole grain breads, the question
I am invariably asked most often is, "Which grain mill is
the best?" Possibly you, the reader, have also asked that
You also may be wondering what the benefit of milling your
own flour might be, and if a grain mill is worth the expense.
Consider that freshly milled whole grain flours are nutritionally
superior to commercial whole grain flours. Not only that but freshly
milled flours taste better and perform much better in whole grain
recipes. Because whole grain flours deteriorate quickly due to
oxidation and the onset of rancidity due to natural oils, freshly
milled flour is more capable of providing superior nutrition and
taste. In fact, flour begins to oxidize as soon as it is milled
and within 24 hours nearly half the nutrients are oxidized. Oxidation
occurs because every flour particle is now exposed to air which
causes the onset of rancidity. Also, unmilled whole grains will
generally store indefinitely, with no negative effect on nutritional
value until the hull of the grain is broken by milling or cracking.
Finally consider that home milled flour is more economical per
pound than whole grain flour available in food stores.
If you are convinced, as I and thousands of others are, that
home milled flour is the best choice and are ready to purchase
a grain mill or replace an ageing grain mill, "the best grain
mill" is the mill
which meets your personal criteria for price, noise level, storage
space requirements, warranty, and versatility. I have found that
my favorite grain mill may not appeal to you, based on your criteria.
Keep in mind that electric grain mills are for meant for
grinding grains and dry beans only; they are genearally not used
for oily seeds or coffee.
Electric grain mills offer a number of benefits over hand-operated
(non-electric) mills. Non-electric or grain mills require a significant
time commitment just to mill one cup of flour! On average, it
takes about 15-20 minutes of hand cranking to produce enough flour
for just one loaf of bread. Although non-electric mills are ideal
for emergencies if electrical power is lost, my experience is
that long term power outages are rare and most families quickly
lose their commitment to tedious hand milling on a regular basis.
Steel-Cone Burr vs. Stone Mills vs. Micronizing Grain Mills
Most of the grain mills on the market fall in the categories
of Steel-cone Burr Mills, Stone Mills, and Micronizers.
Stone Mills - These mills have the ability to mill fine
flours and can be adjusted for a range of flours from fine to
cracked grain consistency. The more oily grains and beans should
not be used as they will cause the stones to glaze over. Periodically,
the stones will need cleaning to remove fine flour particles that
lodge within the stones. In addition, stones wear out over time
and need replacing from time to time, depending on how much you
use your mill. Also the vast majority of stones mills have aluminum
in the stones that is used as a binder to hold the stones particles
together so if you are concerned about aluminum in your diet you
may want to avoid stone mills. Depending on their speed of operation,
they may also het up the flour to the point of nutrient deterioration.
Steel Cone Burr Mills - These mills use a stainless
steel milling head. They too can grains into a range of from fine
to cracked grain consistency, however they may not be able to
mill as fine as a stone mill is capable. You can, however, mill
a wider variety of grains and beans than a stone mill without
fear of gumming up the milling heads, and they are easy to clean.
Generally the steel-cone burr mill will produce flour at a slower
speed, and as a bonus, operate more quietly than other mills.
Steel cone burrs will mill most whole grains and beans, but corn
and beans will need to be cracked first, and then run through
again on a finer setting if you want bean or corn flours. For
the most part the fine flour produced is suitable for breads,
muffins, pastries, etc, but the flour will not be as powdery fine
as you may desire.
Micronizing Grain Mills - These are considered the "newer
technology" mills that have borrowed technology that originally
was developed for the pharmaceutical industry. A micronizer is
made up of concentric circles of stainless steel "teeth"
which spin at a very high speed. They don't "grind"
the grain as the other mills do, but rather "burst"
the grain into flour when the grain comes in contact with the
stainless steel milling teeth. The result is fine, uniform particle-sized
flours in a fraction of the time that other mills take. Because
the milling heads are not "grinding" the grain, the
result is low-temperature milling. These mills will produce the
finest flours and will adjust to as coarse as corn meal. Since
micronizers run at very high speeds they produce flour more quickly
than a steel-cone burr or stone mills, but they generate higher
levels of noise. Just how much noise, you ask? Well, I've come
to believe that noise is in the ear of the beholder so that can
be difficult, in that sense, to quantify, but suffice it to say
that they are louder. These are also the most popular type of
mill on the market, and it is rare to receive a complaint regarding
the noise level. In my opinion, the main drawback to micronizing
mills is that they do not crack grains, and the fineness adjustments
are very limited.
I have used all the grain mill discussed below and find they
are all good quality, produce great flour, and offer years of
reliable service. I have outlined advantages and disadvantages
of each of the most popular and reliable electric grain mills
that I know of based on my 22 years of experience. Remember, there
is no perfect grain mill, and the best mill is the one that meets
your criteria. If you would like more information about grain
mills please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grain Mill Comparisons
KITCHEN MILL - Micronizer
Advantages - Large flour canister- holds 21 cups of flour, strong
reliability record, stores very compactly (if storage space is
at a premium at your house you will appreciate this), produces
high quality, fine flour, mills a wide variety of dry beans and
grains, is made in the USA., and comes with a six year warranty
with a limited lifetime warranty on the milling heads. We have
sold thousands to satisfied customers over the last 16 years.
It is my husband's favorite mill. My first Kitchen Mill lasted
12 years and was used heavily including milling flour for bread
Disadvantages: Smaller grain hopper than some mills, Noisier than
other mills, does not crack grain.
Advantages - Large flour canister, life-time warranty, one piece
construction, large grain hopper, flour canister holds about 20
cups of flour, slightly quieter than The Kitchen Mill but has
the same milling device.
Disadvantages - Higher price, does not crack grain, takes a larger
amount of storage space, mfg. in Korea.
MILL - Micronizer
Advantages - Formerly known as the Whisper Mill, slightly quieter
than The Kitchen Mill, large hopper capacity, six year warranty,
high quality flour, grain feeds well into milling mechanism, produces
flour quickly. My personal favorite grain mill. New models have
a larger, more reliable motor.
Disadvantages - Smaller capacity flour canister (12 cup), does
not crack grain, must turn on mill before adding grain so the
mill will not jam.
GRAIN MILL - Steel Cone Burr
Advantages - Versatile, can be used with hand base or electric
motor base, adjustable from fine to coarse mechanism so this mill
will crack grain. Will fit on the Bosch Universal when ordered
with correct configurtion, German made, very quiet while running,
takes minimal storage space, very economical.
Disadvantage- flour may not be quite as fine as the mills above,
slower production of flour than high speed mills.
When I purchased my first grain mill, I took a VERY deep breath
about investing so much money in a kitchen appliance when we had
so many other needs and so little disposable income. Obviously,
I have never regretted the expense and I don't think you will
either, if you have been led of the Lord to improve the quality
of the breads you serve your family.
Some readers may worry or agonize that their husbands and kids
will object to healthy whole grains. Taste buds will adjust over
time. When my daughter was about 4 or 5, I had run out of bread,
so I ran to the store, bought some Roman Meal, and prepared her
sandwich for lunch. After a few bites Laura's response was, "Mommy,
this bread tastes funny!" Your family will adjust to the
delicious and nutritious whole grain breads you serve and I know
that as you commit your way to the Lord, He will direct your path.