Thursday, December 9, 2010

Milling Flour

I had to ask Hubby how I got started on the idea of grinding our own flour.  He reminded me that it was because of a mistake!  One of our care providers thought Princess Bossy's sinus problems might be a wheat allergy and suggested we try spelt or other wheat substitutes.  (We did that for about 3 years before discovering she was not allergic to anything, but instead has sinus architecture that cause her problems.)  While buying her flour at the local health food store one day, the woman checking us out raved about some bread she'd made using flour they'd milled that week in the store.  She said it rose so well and the bread was so light, more like white bread.  I didn't think a light, fluffy bread was possible with whole grain, and hated anything I'd made from the whole wheat flour bought prepackaged at the grocery store.
That started a process of researching grains and mills that lasted over the next few years, as the idea would come to mind, resulting in a flurry of research and investigation, then wane with other life interruptions.  Over this time, I came to understand that freshly milled grains offered a lot in the way of nutrition that store-bought flours, even whole grain ones, could not.  Because the oil in grain goes rancid quite quickly after the grain is broken, the germ is removed and not included in those other flours.  This decreases the vitamin content as well as the fiber.  I was also impressed with the many reports of the action of fresh flour in dough, as the store saleswoman had described.  I hadn't known there was a hard white wheat that is a whole grain, with all the nutritional benefits, but would mill and taste more like white flour in bread...Not like the heavier red wheat I was familiar with that resulted in product resembling particle board.
Why didn't I jump on the wheat-grinding bandwagon earlier?  I would always stop when I got to the price of mills.  $250 was a lot to us, and still is.  But we finally decided that the sooner we got one, the sooner we could be eating healthier breads and work at getting our money's worth out of the machine. Of the 2 more popular grain mills, and I chose the WhisperMill, which had a lower price tag at the time, and was available at a discount with the bread mixer I ordered also.  Now the WhisperMill design is produced by new owners, and called the WonderMill.  It works wonderfully, and I could recommend it without reservation.  The other one I might consider now is the NutriMill, which does larger batches of flour and in a smaller footprint for the same price.  Being an 'in-line' design, it may go together a little easier.  The Whisper/WonderMill isn't difficult to put together, but once in awhile it takes a little extra finesse to get the parts snapped in just right.
Both of those are micronizing mills.  The technique they use to grind the flour is a little more damaging to the wheat, so the heat may decrease a little of the nutrition compared to stone or steel mills, but not enough to give up the more consistent and fine result.  There may be some steel or stone mills that do the job as well, but they get very pricey.  The micronizers are also a bit loud.  Sort of a high pitched whirr.  For the few minutes it takes to mill 8 cups of wheat into 12 cups of flour, it doesn't bother me.  I close the kitchen doors if someone is sleeping or trying to watch TV.  
I am infamous for using one setting or adjustment and leaving it there...On adjustable shelves, volume knobs, car seat positions..."If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  It is no different with the flour mill.  I use the setting the manual recommended for bread flour and find it satisfactory for most everything, so never change it.  Finer flour has a tendency to want create a clump and clog the machine, and coarser would make heavier crumb for the bread.
Mill as you need to get the most nutrition,
or freeze milled flour to keep the oils from getting rancid.
Try to use it within a week.
Even after having the equipment, it took me awhile to replace all of our bread buying with homemade.  We still buy in a pinch, or specialty items, like sourdough.  As you've seen in my Bucket List, I want to remedy that, and make it all!
Confession:  Until I was doing the post about cracking grains with the corn mill, I drug the 4 or 5 pieces of the WhisperMill and the wheat bin out to the island to grind my flour.  Then...DUH...I had an outlet put in the pantry for a REASON, and there it is, right behind where I store the flour mill.  So I now grind my flour right in the pantry, and I can crack grains with the corn mill as I wait for the Whispermill to finish.  No moving, and what noise there is is more contained.


  1. Hey, I have that grain mill too!

    Love, love, love your blog. :)

  2. THank you!! Did I know you started grinding your own flour? I have trouble finding words why, but I just love it. Makes me want to make a proud, grunting noise like Tim the Tool Man used to make. Just such a basic accomplishment and offering, I guess.


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