Selecting a Grain Mill
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 question.
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
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 email@example.com.
Grain Mill Comparisons
MILL - Micronizer
GRAIN MILL - Steel Cone Burr
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.