Vicky K. admitted… “Sorry — but I think I'm too lazy to mill my own flour!”
And Teddy C. shared… “I buy organic flour, so why should I mill my own?
I love these honest replies! 😉
Vicky and Teddy supplied just two of the nearly 200 replies I got via email and Facebook to this question: “What do you want to know about home grain milling?”
Not all of them made me laugh like Vicky's and Teddy's, though. I definitely got the message that, for most of you, home grain milling is both exciting and overwhelming… and you have lots of questions about it.
Yet, since I received way too many questions to answer in one episode of #AskWardee… I'm splitting them up into multiple episodes.
Home Grain Milling 101: The Basics
So, in Part 1 of Home Grain Milling 101 (The Basics) we're tackling the fundamentals of grain milling — like why one would grind their own grains into flour anyway, how to store whole grains, the kinds of mills on the market, how to use a grain mill, and important “getting started” topics like that.
Future episodes will handle how to use and store your flour, how to make gluten-free flours, how to make substitutions, and the other creative (and fun!) uses for a home grain mill. It's going to be a jam-packed series and I hope you can make them all!
(Or at least read through them… all the transcripts will be provided, as usual.)
Check out the particulars — including a milling demonstration — in today's #AskWardee in print, podcast, or video below! And be sure to come back every Wednesday throughout this month of November for the rest of the series!
Also… Join me at 3pm Eastern on Thurs 11/16 on my Facebook page for a live masterclass all about the history and healthy of home grain milling… with a special guest! Edit: Here's the replay of that free webclass.
Q: Why Should I Mill My Own Flour, Anyway?
Teddy C. asked:
I buy organic flour, so why should I mill my own?
And Vicky K said:
Sorry — but I think I'm too lazy to mill my own flour!
Don't you love that honesty? 😉
Seriously, though… it's great to ask this. Why would you want to grind your own flour, anyway? It does require more work — though how much is arguable. As you'll see, a home grain mill makes grinding easy.
So… here are eight reasons you might consider going to the trouble of grinding your own flour…
It's healthier — the whole grain flour contains all of the nutrients, enzymes, bran, germ, oil… and they're not lost (many nutrients are lost through oxidation as soon as 24 hours after grinding).
It's not rancid — after grinding and sitting in storage, the fat in the germ of whole grain flours goes rancid. Grinding what you need and using it up within a few days ensures that you're not consuming rancid food.
It's lighter — freshly ground flour is lighter than flour that's been sitting around and getting heavy, which means that your baked goods are lighter.
It tastes better — again and again, our family has confirmed that our baked goods made with home-milled flour taste much better than the alternative! (Often, the bad taste is due to rancidity in store-bought flours that have been sitting on the shelf awhile.)
It's more frugal — especially if you're purchasing organic or specialty whole grains/flours such as gluten-free or ancient varieties of wheat. If you grind your own, you'll see significant cost savings over purchasing.
You get more control — over the fineness/coarseness of the grind and the amount you grind.
It's easier to store — whole grains are easier to store than flour; they keep indefinitely while flours oxidize and become rancid more quickly.
It's easier than you think! — mills like my favorite, the Mockmill, are so attractive sitting out on the countertop, and they're literally ready to make flour instantly! (This one's for you, Vicky!)
Q: How Should I Store My Whole Grains & Milled Grains?
Ed G. asked:
How do you store the whole grain?
Stacy S. asked:
How long will freshly milled flour last? What are good ways to store it to preserve its nutritional value?
Carrie G. said:
I would like info on proper storage of grains, before they are milled and after. Also info on milling sprouted grains, and the proper storage of them, both before and after they've been milled.
Helen T. added:
Just how quickly do grains “degrade” once milled? Is it that bad to grind some ahead and store in the freezer? If I'm making something in the morning and then in the evening, can I leave that flour out all day? I wonder just how quickly homemade flour goes “bad”. I keep leftovers (since it's sometimes hard to grind exactly how much you need!) in the freezer for things like roux.
Ed, Stacy, Carrie, Helen, and anyone else having similar thoughts…
The main enemies of whole grains and flour are oxygen, temperature, moisture, light, and critters.
Here are the particulars of storing each:
Whole grains — Bring home, then freeze for 10 days to kill any critters/eggs. You can keep grains in the freezer or transfer to storage containers such as 5-gallon food-grade buckets. Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers inside the buckets help. Or, use other airtight containers such as glass jars. Store the grain in a dry, cool place.
No heat or moisture source nearby. Not in a hot attic, damp basement, or humid garage. Not near a water heater or clothes dryer. If kept cool, dry, dark and critter-free, your whole grains will last many, many years (and even still sprout)! Sprouted grains should be stored similarly.
Milled grains (flour) — Use within three days of grinding (room temperature), or refrigerate for up to seven days, or freeze up to six months. Milled grains should not be stored at room temperature for more than three days because of the danger of rancidity. Sprouted flour should be used/stored similarly. Although it does last longer than unsprouted, I follow these guidelines to be on the safe side of rancidity. 🙂
Q: What Grains Can Be Milled Into Flour?
Renee G. asked:
Which grains can be milled?
Kimberly T. asked:
Do some grains work better than others in mills?
Crystal S. asked:
One of my wishlist items is a grain mill. I have heard that some mills on the market don't take sprouted grains. I want to buy a very high quality mill, but I will be devastated if I get it and then find out it doesn't take sprouted grains.
You'll find some differences between mills in what they can and cannot grind. Nearly all mills (unless you're using a blender) will have a hard time with “wet” or “oily” grains, nuts, seeds, or spices. All those foods can be ground; it just depends on the equipment.
Some foods are soft enough — like flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, coconut, or oats — that small batches can be ground in a coffee grinder, blender, high-powered blender such as Vitamix, or food processor. The food processor produces the coarsest result.
As a general rule, I use our grain mill for the hardest and driest of foods — ancient grains like spelt or einkorn, corn, rice, dry beans, and even completely dried sprouted grains. These all make great flours! (An upcoming #AskWardee in this series will focus on gluten-free milling, so keep an eye out for that.)
I usually pull out the Vitamix or coffee grinder for softer or oilier foods like oats, flax, chia, nuts, or coconut.
So, bottom line… as long as it's not wet or oily, most grain mills will grind everything. You should also check with the manufacturer to see if corn/popcorn can be ground, as it's very, very hard and can damage some mills.
Today, I am demonstrating the Mockmill. All dry grains can be ground with the Mockmill, including soft or hard wheat, oat groats (dehulled oats), rice, triticale, kamut, spelt, einkorn, buckwheat, barley, rye, millet, teff, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, dent (field) corn, and fully dried sprouted grains. It will also grind lentils, dry beans (pinto, red, garbanzo, kidney and more) and dried, non-oily spices. It isn't suitable for herbs, oily seeds like flax or sesame, popcorn, or fibrous materials.
Q: What Are The Types Of Grains Mills & Their Pros/Cons?
Stephanie C. asked:
Hi, I have a Nutrimill. Are the stainless grinding blades doing damage to the nutrition of the grain? Should I have gotten a mill with stone wheels?
Louann L. asked:
I know nothing about milling grains so it will all be new information. I would like to know, to start, the best equipment to use.
Ellen H. asked:
Can I do this with my Vitamix?
Bryan G. asked:
What is the best electric and manual equipment to mill grain?
And there were many more questions regarding equipment, but I think those four are fairly representative. So let's get into it.
Here Are The “Types” Of Grain Mills…
Stone burr (such as the electric Mockmill or the non-electric Wondermill Junior Deluxe)— Grains are ground between stones. It's an age-old process. In fact, my father tells stories of his mother (and my namesake, Tata Wardeh) who would go to the village stone grain mill each day to grind flour for the family's daily bread.
With a stone mill, you can adjust from fine to coarse grinds, or even cracked grains. The milling speed is on the slow side and the flour comes out cool to the touch (arguably more healthy). If grains are higher in moisture or oil, or the stones overheat, the stones can become glazed. (This is easily fixed in the Mockmill by running dry grain through right after.) You can mill dry grains and legumes. Stone mills, like the Mockmill, will also grind nuts, seeds, and spices. Do not grind oily foods such as sesame, flax, or poppy seeds. Can be found both electric and non-electric. The Mockmill stone grain mill offers a KitchenAid attachment!
Impact/micronizer (such as Nutrimill)— Impact mills have an internal milling chamber with concentric rings of stainless steel fins that never touch each other. These fins spin at tens of thousands of revolutions per minute and burst grain kernels into small pieces as they’re impacted — thus the name “impact mill”. They produce fine flour very quickly, but cannot crack grains.
Downsides? 1) Impact mills are very loud; 2) they emit flour dust which can aggravate respiratory conditions, and 3) you cannot crack grains. Mill dry grains and legumes only. Electric only.
Steel or cast iron burr (such as Wondermill Junior Deluxe or Family Grain Mill) – These are similar to the stone mills, except grains are ground between steel or cast iron burrs. They can grind dry grains and legumes and oily nuts and seeds. Generally, the results are coarser than with stone or impact mills.
I have a friend with the Family Grain Mill who runs her grain/flour through twice, and it is still not as fine as she'd like. Can be found both electric and non-electric.
High powered-blender (such as Vitamix or BlendTec) — The Vitamix is an amazing machine and the dry blade container works well for grinding small amounts of flour, even though the grain can be somewhat coarse and you have to be careful not to overheat the motor. In addition to the usual dry grains and legumes, you can even mill oily grains, nuts, and seeds.
The BlendTec is similar, however, it doesn't always come with a tamper to help circulate the grains as the Vitamix does. (The tamper is very important for consistency of grind!)
Other Options — Although I don't recommend these if you're milling often, milling in larger quantities, or desiring a great result, other mill options include the Champion juicer or KitchenAid attachment or a coffee grinder.
For years, I used the Vitamix to mill our flour. I used the dry container and tamper and never ground more than 2 cups of grain at a time. Using the tamper, I ground at high speed for 2 minutes 15 seconds each batch. The flour came out quite warm (which I know now is not great) and as fine as it could be — but still not as fine as the mills I later used.
Then, we purchased a used Nutrimill, which was a huge improvement over the Vitamix. The flour comes out fine and makes beautiful bread, and also not so hot, so we experienced less nutrient loss (though it was still warm). The Nutrimill is certainly loud, though! My daughter Haniya has it now. I should ask how her baby reacts when it's running! 😉
And now, we use the Mockmill stone grain mill, which I absolutely love. The flour stays cool and comes out very fine. It's super adjustable to get just the grind you need. The fine flour makes wonderful, light bread — even with 100% whole grains! I love that I can also crack grains or produce more coarse flour. Of all the mills I've used, it produces the healthiest, finest flour while being the most versatile mill overall.
We also have a non-electric stone grain mill (the Wondermill Junior Deluxe) to use when the power goes out. The Wondermill Junior Deluxe actually comes with both stone and steel burrs.
Q: How Does A Grain Mill Work?
I would love to know about all grains including sorghum, millet, teff, quinoa, oats, and the soaking/rinsing process. Some grains like quinoa, rice, and sorghum say to rinse before cooking, but what about before grinding? I assume they are dirty and need to be rinsed before grinding?
How to grind grains depends on the particular mill and I described the mechanisms above. Although I haven't used all the mills out there, I have tried several (again, described above). They all involve a few steps, the first of which is following the manufacturer's directions for safe operation, setting coarseness, etc.!
Generally, you start with clean grain. There's no need to wet or rinse the grains, however, it's a good idea to inspect the grains and remove rocks or debris manually. Rocks, especially, can damage your mill.
Then, add the grain to the mill and turn it on. Along the way, adjust the fineness/coarseness. Finally, dump out the flour, unless it comes out a shoot as the Mockmill does. Be sure to put a bowl there!
Watch either video embedded in this post to see how the Mockmill works. 🙂
Q: Where To Buy A Grain Mill?
As you can tell from our discussion today, my favorite mill and the one I recommend is the Mockmill!
The Mockmill is a home stone grain mill, and it's engineered and manufactured in Germany by Wolfgang Mock. He started making home grain mills back in the 1970s, so he's been doing it for over 40 years. It's estimated that nearly 70% of the stone mills out there are made by him.
This mill is super exciting because it contains the best features of Wolfgang Mock's milling career, yet it's much more affordable. The reason it's more affordable is because this mill comes in a durable recycled material housing (instead of expensive wood).
I love the flour it produces because it's super healthy and nutritious (being fresh ground), and it has a really fine texture. So, it makes wonderful, light bread, and it's cool to the touch instead of being warmed up as some mills will do.
This mill will grind all grains, even gluten-free. It can even crack grains for porridge, and it has many other uses (like spices, nuts, and seeds).
You can see how it works in this video:
All the details including the very affordable price and FREE SHIPPING are on this page. By the way, it also comes as a KitchenAid attachment — very exciting for those who don't want another appliance to take up any more room!Also with your purchase of the Mockmill, you'll get two fantastic eBooks from the Mockmill team: The Mockmill Farm Directory & Grain Milling Guide and The Mockmill Recipe Guide. Both of these eBooks are fabulous!
And for a limited time… if you decide to purchase the Mockmill, I'm throwing in complimentary copies of both my Sourdough A to Z and Einkorn Baking eBook and Video Packages. They're each worth $64 for a total of $128 in additional bonuses from me.
Q: Where To Buy Whole Grains For Milling
Here are my favorite places to buy whole grains:
- Einkorn.com — use this link for their best prices on the oldest and healthiest varieties of ancient wheat. It's what we use exclusively in our no-knead sourdough einkorn bread and our other baked goods. Members, you'll find an even better price in the Member Area resources page.
- Amazon.com — use this link; it's a search for “organic bulk whole grains”.
- Azure Standard — this is a natural food warehouse that may or may not deliver in your area.
- Local farms — refer to The Mockmill Farm Directory & Grain Milling Guide (it comes with the Mockmill) or search locally… you never know what you might turn up!
The handbook that comes with the Mockmill — The Mockmill Farm Directory & Grain Milling Guide — contains easy links to the websites and Amazon.com listings of small family farmers who will gratefully ship their grains direct to your door!
This easy-to-follow guide will introduce you to the abundance of clean grains you can buy straight from small family farms across America.
You can find and buy every traditional variety of wheat, plus, rarer, “ancient” identity-preserved grains, and even a wide selection of naturally gluten-free grains and legumes. All of which you can mix ‘n’ match in your baking, discovering new family favorites along the way.
Get this guide free with your purchase of the Mockmill.
- The Mockmill — my favorite and recommended (affordable) home stone grain mill — Hurry! The limited time offer to get my eBook packages valued at $128 won't last long!
- Claim your FREE ($128 value) bonuses with your purchase of the Mockmill here!
- FREE No-knead Sourdough Einkorn Bread Recipe
- Why I <3 Einkorn — in case you want to know why we bake with the healthier 5,000 year-old wheat called einkorn!
- Free “Home Grain Milling 101” eBook — it's all 4 parts of this series combined into a single, FREE download from me!
- Home Grain Milling 101, Part 2: Milling Gluten-Free Grains Into Flour
- Home Grain Milling 101, Part 3: Baking With Fresh-Ground Flour
- Home Grain Milling 101, Part 4: More Fun Things Your Grain Mill Can Do!
- FREE Webclass: Baking With Fresh-Ground Flour
By the way, I want to give credit to Vickilynn Haycraft, my dear friend and “milling mentor”, who introduced me to grain milling years ago and who contributed to some of these answers. I also want to thank Wolfgang Mock, whose stone grain mill — the Mockmill — I am using for demonstrating various milling tasks in this series. And finally, I want to thank Jade Koyle from Einkorn.com for his wonderful einkorn grain and help with using the Mockmill!
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If you mill your own grains (or want to!), why do you do it? What is your favorite grain mill? What is your favorite grain to mill?
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