Making the Decision to Purchase a Grain Mill


| 2/8/2017 9:02:00 AM


Tags: grinding flour, Mockmill, grain mill, Carrie Williams Howe, Vermont,

GrainMill 

This Christmas, my husband surprised me with a grain mill attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer.  Avid bread makers and do-it-yourselfers, we had talked about making this purchase for a while but hadn’t yet because it seemed like a big investment and we wanted to be sure it made sense.  I tend to overthink things (as you’ll perhaps guess from this review) so luckily my husband did some research and used the holiday as an excuse to bite the bullet. 

So, am I happy with the purchase?  Definitely.  Below I explore our (his) choice in grain mill as well as a number of considerations that have lead me to believe that this purchase was a good move.

Health Benefits of Grinding Your Own Flour

One of the reasons we wanted to purchase our own grain mill was an attraction to making as much of our own food at home as we possibly can.  Yes, we still have to buy the wheat berries, but we believed that starting with the berry instead of the already processed flour would provide us with a fresher and more nutritionally-valuable ingredient.  Our instinct is backed by scientific research that demonstrates that flour can lose a variety of nutritional components in less than two weeks after being ground.  This is because the protective coating of the berry has been removed and the grain and can be less stable, especially when exposed to heat or humidity (hence why some freeze flour for longer term storage); nutrients break down and the flour can become rancid.

Return on Investment

We typically purchase King Arthur Flour in bulk (because we are lucky enough to live relatively close to the King Arthur Flour factory store in Norwich, VT) and store what we aren’t using quickly in the freezer.  We keep both All Purpose flour and White Whole Wheat on hand for our regular baking, and we buy smaller amounts of things like rye and regular whole wheat for special recipes.  Though we often prefer to purchase organic products, we do not always buy organic flour because of the price differential.  However, my husband purchased both a 5lb bag of organic white whole wheat berries and a 2lb bag of organic “Emmer” wheat berries when he purchased our mill (www.breadtopia.com).  Initial test runs showed us that ounce for ounce, grinding our own organic flour came in at about the same price as purchasing a regular 5lb bag of non-organic (but good quality) flour from the grocery store.  Buying a 25 or 50lb bag of conventional flour was still going to be cheaper overall, but the ability to lean toward using more organic sources is a plus.  Lucky for us, King Arthur Flour and our local health food stores both sell wheat berries of various types so we are able to source these locally without having to order online.  That said, we highly suggest checking out some of the more unusual varieties and flavors available through companies like Breadtopia.  Not having to store our flour in the freezer may also lead to energy savings.  Of course, the cost of grain and storage is only one part of the equation – you also have to decide how much you’re willing to spend on your mill.

The Right Mill in Our Price Range

There are a variety of mills on the market and they range in price.  The first way we narrowed it down was by looking at mills that were made for in-home use and not for the scale of use that would be required by a business.  Among the options available are some truly high quality mills that look beautiful on your counter top and grind flour to a very fine texture much like what you would buy in the store; these models can handle higher frequency and quantity of use.  However, these models can range from $400 – 800.00 and that price point was not within reasonable consideration for us.  Mid-range models were more appropriate for our ability to invest and the frequency with which we assumed we would use the mill (once or twice a week or a few cups at a time). 




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