As Philip and I move to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle, learning to grind my own flour has been such an appealing option for the reasons I have been sharing in this series of posts. Today we look at the nuts and bolts of grinding our own flour and look at the mill itself. There are two main categories of home grain mills: burr grain mills and impact grain mills.
Burr Grain Mill
Burr grain mills consist of two grinding plates that fit on top of each other. One is fixed and the other rotates. This crushes the grains between the plates producing different textures of flour based on how tightly they fit together. There are three types of burr grain mills: Stone burr, metal burr, and cast-iron burr grain mills. All three-produce flour in a variety of textures from extra fine to coarse.
Burr grain mills are quieter than impact grain mills and are cool grinding. That means they avoid exceeding 112 degrees in normal use. Excessive use may heat up the grinding plates. To avoid this, grinding large batches should be broken up into smaller portions.
All three burr-style mills come in both electric grain mills and manual grain mills. I personally wouldn’t even consider a hand crank mill. While I understand it would be beneficial to have a manual mill in emergency situations where a power source might not be available, high quality hand crank-style grain mills are very expensive. They are available in lower price ranges, but the flour quality will be a far cry from the quality that can be produced in an electric mill at a more affordable price. Not to mention, that unless it’s attached to a bicycle for cranking, I can’t imagine wanting to hand crank a grain mill long enough to produce flour.
Do’s and Don’ts of Burr Grain Mills
Stone burr mills are NOT for wet or oily grains, or herbs and spices. The stones would become compacted with material and no longer be effective. Stone burr mills come in natural (granite) or synthetic stone burrs. The stones should also never be washed.
Cast-iron burr grain mills are also for only non-oily grains. They should never be used for wet or oily grains. The cast iron burrs, like a cast iron pan, will rust when exposed to moisture.
Stainless steel burr grain mills CAN be used with wet or oily grains because their surface is nonporous.
Nutrimill Harvest Grain Mill
This stone burr grain mill is a gorgeous addition to any kitchen! Mill fresh ground flour right at home!
Impact Grain Mill
Impact grain mills are a popular type of home grain mill. They have a milling chamber that has concentric rings of stainless-steel teeth. These teeth don’t touch but crush the grain with the high-speed revolutions within the milling chamber. They are faster and louder than a burr grain mill. They also will grind flour at a much higher speed and can grind flour in larger quantities. Impact mills are less costly than burr-style grain mills. They are popular for their price, ease of use, and efficiency. The NutriMill Classic is a popular brand.
Impact grain mills can only be used to grind flour. Some models do allow you to choose your flour texture, but they don’t allow the user to grind different texture grains for things like cereal. Like the stone burr mill, they are not for use with oily or wet grains. Impact grain mills can also produce a higher amount of flour in a shorter amount of time. The flour may be warm to the touch after processing, though they are not supposed to reach temperatures high enough to jeopardize the quality of the home-ground flour.
Impact Grain mills are only available as electric mills as they function at a much higher speed to produce these results.
The Grain Mill I Choose
I chose a Nutrimill Harvest Grain Mill. It’s a stone burr grain mill. Honestly, I just loved the idea of stone-ground flour, it takes me back to my love of historical literature. I can’t help but think about small farmers, taking their home-raised grain to the charming grain mill with the big water wheel powering the mill. The giant stones grind the precious grain into the fine flour the family will use for the entire year.
Admittedly, my Nutrimill Harvest Grain mill is a far cry from a water-powered grain mill. It’s compact and weighs about 18 pounds. The millstones are called corundum grainmaster milling stones. They are a synthetically engineered type of ceramic that is comparable to diamonds in hardness. The Nutrimill can grind a wide range of hard grains. But can not be used with oily grains or beans, such as coffee beans. Nutrimill Harvest Grain Mills are an affordable option for most families.
Features of the NutriMill Harvest Grain Mill
The grinding chamber of this stone mill is designed for home use. High-quality flour is best milled just prior to use. While the Nutrimill can grind large amounts of flour, the hopper holds only a few cups of wheat kernels at a time.I grind a small batch of flour just for the recipe I am making. Any fresh flour not used immediately needs to be stored in the refrigerator.
While the Nutrimill Harvest grain mill does not have a lifetime warranty, it does have a 5-year warranty. If cared for and used properly, a NutriMill Grain Mill will provide a family with high-quality flour for a very long time. The ability to provide different types of whole grain flours and the nutritional value they add to our everyday diet is well worth the extra effort.
Making the Perfect High-Quality Flour
I’m still struggling with the texture of the flour, I’d like it to be finer like commercial flour in its consistency, but I have not yet gotten It to that texture. I did read that a more coarse flour is better for bread, and I have to admit that my bread has come out beautifully once I nailed down a good recipe.
Only you can decide what is the best grain mill for your home. The type of mill you choose will depend on the types of grain you want to mill and the price range you can afford. If you choose to keep your grain mill on the kitchen counter, the aesthetic appeal might also be a factor. The perfect grain mill is one that you will use! Sometimes having an appliance in an easy-to-use location makes all the difference in how often you use this powerful tool.
Using My Nutrimill Harvest Grain Mill
Want to see my Nutrimill Harvest Grain mill in action? Come along while I make some delicious, soft sandwich bread. The bread recipe that I am using came from my friend Tina at Blessed and Beautiful Homestead, I am not the original creator, but I am sharing a printable recipe card for your convenience.
- 2-1/4 c. hot water
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/2 c. honey
- 3 tsp. salt
- 2 small eggs
- 6-3/4 c. flour (If you're grinding your own flour, you'll need 5 c. hard white wheat berries. This will give you a little extra for dusting the countertop.)
- 1-1/2 TBS. active dry yeast
- 1-1/2 tsp. vital wheat gluten (optional)
- In a large bowl or your stand mixer, combine hot water, oil, honey, salt, vital wheat gluten (optional), and eggs.
- Add 3-4 cups flour to the mix until batter begins to form. Sprinkle yeast over top & continue mixing. Gradually add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time.
- Knead dough. Kneading time will vary. It's recommended to knead the dough for 15 minutes and then test to see f the bread passes the window pane test.
- Cover the bowl of dough and let rise for 1 hour.
- Divide the dough into two equal loaves & shape loaves to fit the pan. Place bread into greased bread pans.
- Allow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.
- Brush loaves with milk (optional).
- Score your bread with a 1/4" cut down the center.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F.
- Remove bread from pans, allowing them to cool on a wire rack.
Need more help choosing a grain mill, I found this article extremely helpful.
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About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.