Thursday, November 15, 2007

Grain Mill

Logan and I went to a program recently where we did things like they did in Colonial days. One of the things we got to do was pick and grind corn to make corn meal. I then brought the corn meal home and made cornbread. It was so good! And that got me thinking how fun it would be to grind my own wheat (sometimes I have weird ideas of what fun is). I started looking at grain mills online and realized they are really expensive! So, I asked for one on freecycle and got one!

After cleaning it up some I decided to grind some wheat berries I got at the health food store. Here is the mill with some wheat berries in it and some that have been ground.

Unfortunately, I ran into some problems. The ground wheat was way too big! I turned the plates as close together as I could and still be able to turn the handle. And I was barely able to turn the handle, like it took 2 hands and I could do half a turn at a time before losing momentum. Anyway, even at the tightest I could get it, my "flour" looked like this.

The grains are still way too big! I put it through a second time but it still pretty much looked like this. So, I decided to try making muffins with it. I was really excited about these muffins. They were going to have flour I ground myself. Pumpkin I picked and cooked myself. And applesauce I made myself from apples I picked myself. I was feeling all self-sufficient and proud.

But the muffins were unedible. They never cooked all the way through and tasted funny. My guess is the "flour" didn't absorb the moisture since it was such a coarse ground so the muffins never cooked.

So, I'm not sure what to do. Should I get another grain mill? Just try putting the berries through many times? Give up completely and stick with commercial flour?

If anyone with grain mill experience has any advice I'd love to hear it! I'm at a loss right now.


Anonymous said...

The ground wheat that is coming out of your mill is much like what commerical flour millers call first break. In commercially-produced flour, the wheat is ground approximately 20 times and sifted after each pass.

If you want to get baking flour out of the ground wheat, you should buy some sort of sifting mechanism that only allows the smaller pieces of flour to go through, while holding the bran and germ of the wheat kernel above the sifter.

Then take the "overs" and try grinding them again. However, you will probably never reach the quality that commercial mills obtain using this method. But you could try to keep grinding for a sort of whole wheat flour.

Leigh said...

They are a little pricey, but we have a Country Living Grain Mill and you just can't beat it for hand ground flour.

You can use the cracked wheat from your mill for cooked cereal. I believe the proportions are 1 of cereal to 3 of liquid (water, milk, or juice.) Bring liquid to boil, stir in cracked wheat, and simmer till done. I believe it take about 15 to 20 minutes. Cooked cereal leftovers are great in pancakes or muffins!

Christy said...

Thank you so much for the comments! So, one pass isn't going to be enough to get flour, that makes sense. I'll try to find a sift. I also like the idea of cooking the cracked wheat and using that in muffins. I'll have to play with recipe some but it would be a good use for the mill I have. I may still look at getting a better one for grinding flour.

Christy said...

Leigh - do you get flour from just one pass through the mill? Or do you do it multiple times? It was so hard to turn that I'm not sure I could do multiple passes in mine.

frugalmom said...

The grain mill has piqued my interest. I will prolly have to get the one that attaches to my mixer tho. We have had really good luck with all the other attachments we have gotten.

Not nearly as cheap as free, but none the less. If I can make my own flour...I can make all kinds of bread and then have it all are on to something here! Thanks for the inspiration.

linda m said...

Back in the 1980's when I worked for the Oster Corporation we were testing a food processor blade and would use "cracked wheat" as our test medium. The food processor would do a fairly "good" job of grinding the wheat. Some of us would take the "flour" home and use it for baking. I made several loaves of bread which turned out fairly well. Now remember this idea was to "test" the blade and in the long run might destroy your food processor blade but you could use it until you get something else

Anonymous said...

What you have is not a flour mill, but a grain mill. Lehman's sells one that looks just like it. It's not designed for flour, but for corn meal and cracking grains.

Christy said...

Anonymous - Thank you! So, this will be perfect for the farm when we move to make feed and such. I guess if I want to make flour I need a different model. This is what I've been thinking anyway.

Anonymous said...

Christi, if you wanted, you could bake bread with your current mill. Here is my reasoning.

In any sort of milling, the goal is to get the wheat kernel's endosperm (starchy food source for the seedling) free of the bran (outer dark layer) and germ (the yellowish wheat seedling).

When you pass the wheat through initially, you are breaking it open and releasing some of the endosperm, a.k.a. flour. To separate this flour from the bran and germ, you should use a sifter with a very fine clothing (a wire mesh is way too big). Put small quantities in of the cracked wheat on the sifter and shake it until the flour falls through. From a first break, you could obtain about 20% flour from the sum of the wheat that was put in.

In fact, in a commercial mill, first-break flour, such as this, is often prized for it's cleanliness. As the milling operation continues, flour produced further down the line has a tendency to have bran mixed in with it.

Another note, I'm not sure where you could find a small sifter such as that, but a simple idea is to find a company that makes sieve screens (i.e. Sefar filtration or SaatiTech), take the cloth, cut it into squares and staple it to a wooden frame. Then just place the cracked wheat on top and use your hand to shake it in a circular motion.

Hope this helps.

Christy said...

That you so much for the advice on the sieve. That is going to be my next goal, find a good sieve and try to use the mill I have to get flour. No reason to buy a new one if I can get this one to work. If I can't then this one will be useful for other things.

Liz said...

Wow! Thanks so much for letting me know about Freecycle. I hadn't heard of it before but it sounds like an excellent organization. I can't wait to try it!

~ Liz