Choosing the Right Countertop Grain Mill

Learn how to choose a quality and versatile grain mill to grind flour at your own home. Also, see reviews on specific grain mills and the many health benefits that fresh-ground grains have to offer.

| December 2004/January 2005 (Updated February 2015)

Modern countertop grain mills make it easy for anyone to grind fresh, flavorful flours. There are dozens of flour mills from which to choose. Fortunately, the search for an ideal mill can begin with three basic decisions — what power source to use, the appropriate milling mechanism and the maximum flour temperature to tolerate. Many mills are appropriate for family use as well as in a bootstrap business. The decision comes down to price, quality, versatility and convenience features.

Power Source

Manual Mills. For the energetic, athletic, disciplined person, a manual mill (particularly the large flywheel type) can be a superb choice, with a low chance of nutrient-damaging heat buildup. But most manual mills require work, so be realistic — if there’s no flour, there can be no bread.

Electric Mills. If the primary objective is getting the flour ground and the bread on the table without any fuss, frills or fanfare, then an electric mill’s primary drawback — loss of use during power outages — may be acceptably rare. The zippiest, cleanest, easiest mills in this category are relatively inexpensive, and they do one heck of a job, then go back in the cupboard.

Convertible Mills. Many mill manufacturers have devised ways to make their mills convertible from manual to electric or vice versa, so grinding continues with or without power. It is important to select a convertible mill that works properly in either mode because some don’t.

Milling Mechanisms

Each grain mill has some mechanism for crushing, beating or grinding grain into meal, usually in a range of textures from coarse to fine. Some mechanisms are more versatile than others: They grind hard, soft, oily or wet items. Aside from the increasingly popular “oat roller,” two milling mechanisms dominate the home mill market: burr and impact.

Burr mills are the most common. They have two grinding plates, one fixed and the other rotated by a power source. The grain is fed into a gap between the burrs, which are grooved to aid the shearing and crushing of the grain. Composite stone burrs are constructed by pressing natural or artificial stones (and sometimes metal cutting blades) in a bed of cement. Metal burrs/plates, some of which are flat and some cone-shaped, are constructed of hardened cast steel or other metal. Basically, stone burrs tend to crush the grain, and metal burrs tend to break and shear it.

6/2/2016 12:31:11 PM

Huge fan of my Lee. Stone ground is noticeably better than the plastic and wood crap that's out there.

Marcia Irvin
10/14/2010 10:49:26 AM

I have used a Nutrimill to grind for about 3 year. Love it. Its fast and tidy. I had a hand grinder before and it just takes to long if you have a lot to grind. Thanks

3/7/2010 6:47:32 PM

I grind about 65 pounds of wheat every week using my Country Living mills. I have two of them mounted on a bicycle. It takes less than three hours--I do about an hour of grinding at a time and have a table my husband made so I can read while I grind. I use the flour to make bread in my brick oven for my local bakery. The Country Living mills work great. I vary the grind depending on what I'm making. I use the plexiglass hopper extenders so I don't have to get off the bike and refill as often. The mill is attractive and the company is very responsive to questions and comments.

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