Welcome to the second installment of the Wheat/Wheat Grinding 101 series!

The first installment is here and talks about the types of wheat, where to buy wheat and what to do with it.

Today, I want to delve into a specific part of wheat grinding: The Wheat Grinder. There’s some good stuff here today including, but not limited to, the compiled list of wheat grinder reviews that many of you submitted!

But first, let me address a question I received several times after the first post a few weeks ago.

Why do I grind my own wheat instead of just buying wheat flour at the store?

1) I Stay In Control: I can control the type of wheat I use (many wheat flours at the store are derived from red wheat berries and I prefer a mix of red and white wheat or white wheat on its own), I can control the fineness and/or coarseness of the flour and with my wheat grinder, I can grind it much finer than the wheat flour from the store, I can control when I grind it which means by grinding and using immediately (or freezing), the wheat hasn’t lost any nutritional value (once the wheat berry is ground it is subject to oxidation which causes it to gradually lose nutritional value so freshly ground wheat is more nutritious than wheat flour that’s been on the shelves for a month).
2) It’s Cheaper: because I can buy wheat berries in bulk (see here for sources), I can grind my own wheat flour much more cost-effectively than buying already ground wheat flour.
3) It’s Not Just About Flour: Using wheat berries and a grinder, I can not only grind flour, but I can also make cracked wheat and grind a variety of other grains/seeds (I’ll talk about that in more detail below).
4) It Keeps Me Safe: Despite what natural disaster and emergency may occur (I’m talking even the loss of a job or financial difficulty), I know that I have 100 pounds of wheat ready to grind for a variety of foods that could help sustain our family. We’ve gone through “lean” months/years before and our wheat and other food storage has been a huge blessing and sometimes nothing short of a miracle.
5) It’s Healthy: Because I have a wheat grinder sitting on my kitchen counter and a bunch of wheat berries ready to be ground, I naturally use whole grains in most of my baking, making our bread and throwing it into cookies and other baked goods and breakfast foods willy nilly. Because I can. And eating a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie somehow feels a little healthier. Don’t burst my bubble, please.

Grinding flour and other grains is an investment, there is no doubt about it. Wheat grinders are not cheap; but for me (and I can only speak for myself here), the above factors more than make up for any of the downsides. However, wheat grinders and grinding wheat are not for everyone! This series isn’t supposed to put pressure on anyone – it’s simply a resource for those who already use/grind wheat or who are looking to start. If you know me well enough you know I’m the last person that wants to make you feel badly for something you aren’t doing. Trust me, I may grind my own wheat, but you definitely don’t want to see the state of my laundry room and/or toilets. We all have our strengths.

Okie doke. Ready to get started on wheat grinders?

First, I’m going to show you the wheat grinder I have. I’m in love with it. I’ve had it for almost 4 years now and I use it at least 4-5 times a week because I grind my wheat fresh for everything I make. I keep this baby on the counter tucked into a little corner and there it stays day in and day out.

My grinder (grain mill if you want to get technical) is a European model that has gained popularity in the United States just in the last few years. It is called a KoMo Fidibus or Wolfgang mill. I have the Classic model. In addition to wheat, it can also grind: oats, rice, triticale, kamut, spelt, buckwheat, barley, rye, millet, teff, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum and dent (field) corn. It will also grind spices, lentils and dry beans (pinto, red, garbanzo, kidney, etc.). Considering I don’t know what many of those foods even are, I use it for wheat 99% of the time, but you better believe I’m ultra-proud it can grind the other foods, too.

Let’s walk through how it operates and then I’ll talk about the pros and cons.
Wheat Grinders

Just like most wheat grinders on the market today, it has a large “hopper” or bowl-type apparatus on top of the grinder. Hello, hopper! Wheat Grinders

The hopper is loaded up with wheat berries. The hopper on my grain mill fits about 6 cups of wheat berries. This amount will vary depending on the type of wheat grinder you have.Wheat Grinders

Once filled (and you don’t have to fill it all the way to grind), I turn on the small power button on the side and it starts doing its thing.Wheat Grinders

I set my large Pyrex bowl underneath and the ground flour spills into the bowl.
Wheat Grinders

I find I can get about 12 cups flour for every 6 cups of wheat berries I grind. Keep in mind, though, that freshly ground flour has more air to it and so if you want a really accurate measurement, let it settle before you measure. I never bother with that; I just pack it slightly  more into the cups if it just came out of the grinder.
Wheat Grinders

Again, along with most other wheat grinders, my beloved mill, has a setting that lets me adjust the texture of the flour from fine to coarse. I simply twist the hopper bowl to get finer or coarser flour.
Wheat Grinders

When it’s all said and done, I’m left with beautiful, fluffy flour. Amazing!
Wheat Grinders

The thing with wheat grinders is that each of them differ slightly – in price, capacity, noise, fineness of flour, etc. So the best advice I can give if you are in the market for a wheat grinder is to do your research. I had a Nutrimill for 5 or so years before buying the KoMo mill. The Nutrimill is great and a very heavy-duty mill but the one I had eventually started having some major issues (including but not limited to spewing flour in a 5-foot radius).

As for the KoMo, the main pros are:

-I can keep it on my counter at all times because it takes up very little space which means I can grind wheat on demand (no more pulling out the wheat grinder from storage to grind flour).
-It’s fast and can grind flour as finely as any other mill I’ve used. It also can make fantastic cracked wheat because the coarse settings are easy to adjust.
-It can grind far more than just wheat (see the list at the top of the post).
-It doesn’t heat up the flour like other wheat grinders can which helps retain the most nutrition.
-It doesn’t spew flour anywhere. Occasionally I’ll wipe up a bit of flour dust after a week or so of using (you’ll notice from the pictures above that my baby looks a bit dusty but that’s because it’s been a while since I’ve wiped her down) but it is very clean when grinding.
-Speaking of cleaning, it doesn’t need it. No parts and rings and equipment to take apart and clean which means a very low risk of those pesky weevils taking over. Run a handful of rice through it every month and you are good to go.

The cons are:

-It’s pricey; one of the most expensive mills on the market. I saved my pennies for a year or so before buying but it was worth every single one.
-It’s noisy. Akin to the volume of my vacuum.
-The capacity of the hopper is smaller than other heavy-duty mills. This isn’t a problem for me because I grind wheat on demand but if you like to grind, say, 20 pounds of wheat at a time, you would need to fill the hopper more frequently than mills with a larger capacity.

Because you shouldn’t just take my opinion on what kind of wheat grinder to purchase/use, I asked for input on what kinds of wheat grinders all of you use and what you love/don’t love about them. Over 50 of you responded (bless you, everyone!). The results have been compiled in an easy-access document so you can read what others have to say about the mill they use. I read it like a novel. It’s good stuff, people. Click on the image to access the full document.
Wheat Grinders-1

Here’s an at-a-glance view of how many of you own what type of grain mill:
Wheat Grinders by Popularity

And just for fun (seriously, I need to get more hobbies), I did a cost comparison on all of the wheat grinders listed in the above graph. These are using average prices since actual price can vary based on sales and where you buy.
Wheat Grinder Cost Comparison

The best way to figure out where to buy a wheat grinder is to check your local retailers (unless you are me and live in the sticks; wheat grinders are not necessarily widely available in my  neck of the woods) and also look online. I’ve listed a few places that have sold wheat grinders to my friends/family (I bought mine from a company that no longer sells them):

Pleasant Hill Grain
Emergency Preparedness
Amazon

Now, a word about manual wheat grinders. If you are into preparedness and food storage, it might be worth looking into a manual or electricity-free wheat grinder. These beautiful heavy-duty wheat grinders won’t do a lick of good if the electricity is out. However, you could argue that you won’t be making bread if the electricity is out, either, although, as discussed in this post, there are many other ways you could use wheat berries to provide nutrition for you and/or your family during an emergency (i.e. if you have a propane stove or other heat source you could make cracked wheat, pancakes, etc.). Anyway, just a little bit of food for thought. I do not have an electricity-free wheat grinder, so I can’t recommend a brand, but googling “electricity free wheat grinder” or “hand wheat grinder” will pull up some good resources.

Ok, that’s it! Did you make it through? Let me know if you have any questions. Ah, I just love talking about wheat!

43 Responses to Wheat Grinding 101: All About Wheat Grinders {Plus over 60 Reviews of Popular Grinders}

  1. Emily F says:

    Thanks Mel! While I would love, love, love a Wolfgang like yours, after reading this I will probably start with a NutriMill. This is a great resource!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for this Mel! I will be showing this to my husband! I want to make this investment-and now I have some ‘data’ to support my cause!

  3. Jocelyn says:

    This is a fantastic post! I love the idea of grinding my own flour. However, my family does not like whole wheat flour very much. Are there any varieties of wheat berries that would approximate the taste and texture of white flour? (I know this is probably a silly question. Perhaps you have some other suggestions.) Thank you.

  4. Tracie Atkinson says:

    Have you ever been to Kitchen Kneads in Logan? You should check it out, I think you’d really like it!

  5. Susan says:

    Hi Mel ~ I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing. Is the Ko Mo an impact grinder? I would be interested in seeing what cracked wheat looks like from this grinder. I’d like to make corn meal and polenta but the coarsest setting on my grinder still doesn’t give me enough texture.

  6. Robyn says:

    I have a Vitamix and bought the $100 attachment wheat grinder for it. Oh man, it is amazing. Several cups of flour in 1 minute. And you can control how fine you want it depending on how long you let it grind.

  7. Nicole says:

    Thanks, awesome post! I’m still deciding what mill to get, so timing of this post was perfect, thanks!

  8. EmilyF says:

    Great post! I bought a Wondermill a couple of years ago and I LOVE it. I never got a chance to reply for your research gathering … but there it is! I really wanted the one you have, but I don’t use it enough to justify the expense. :) It’s very pretty (yours)

  9. Tiffany says:

    I love my vitamix dry container as well. I grind wheat several times a week with it.

  10. Mel says:

    Hi Jocelyn – you can read more information on the different varieties of wheat (and which ones I sub for white flour) here:
    http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2013/04/wheat-and-wheat-grinding-101-the-wheat-types-where-to-buy-and-what-to-make.html

    Soft white wheat or hard white wheat berries are your best bet. Keep in mind that it might take a little time for their taste buds to adjust but hopefully over time, they will actually prefer wheat!

  11. Mel says:

    Hi Susan, the KoMo is not an impact grinder. It is a stone grinder and actually, it’s about as old-fashioned and authentic as you can get (except for the electric motor!) – it’s basically two round stones that sit on top of each other and grind the grains. One of the main advantages of the KoMo is how differently it attacks the coarse setting because it really, truly can get the perfect cracked wheat. I’ll take a picture of it next time I crack wheat in it.

  12. Army of 7 says:

    I have the dry container for my Vitamix as well! Worth those {lots and lots of} extra pennies. Thanks for the tips :)

  13. Joy says:

    What a great post. Thanks! I would LOVE it if you added pictures of each grinder. I guess I could look it up myself…

  14. Jocelyn says:

    Thank you for answering my question about wheat berries so thoroughly. I am eager to get started on this project, and to change the taste buds of my reluctant family!

  15. Thanks for this interesting and informative post, Mel! I’ll be honest I never considered grinding my own wheat before but now that I know more, I’ll definitely be looking into it.

  16. Tahnycooks says:

    Thanks for such great info! Love it!

  17. Jamie says:

    Just curious, have you ever tried using/making natural yeast? The kind made from fermenting flour and water? I’ve had a little success with it, but not much!

  18. Hannah says:

    Ohhhh my, that mill is gorgggggggeous. I am drooling. For anyone interested, YouTube is full of videos on these grinders. They make (expensive) flakers as well.

  19. Krista says:

    I too use the Vitamix to grind my wheat and its great! I would love a KoMo, but for now the vitamix does an excellent job!

  20. bluebaker says:

    Your wheat articles are great! I’ve learned alot. Unfortunately I’m not in a position right now to invest in it, someday I’d like to try it. Have you ever read “The Long Winter” in
    the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series? The family’s supply of wheat is litteraly what kept them alive until Spring when the trains could get through again. Times are not that drastic now, of course, but I can see why you like the safety of having your own stocked pantry, as well as the control of what goes in to your family’s food.

  21. Jen says:

    So, rumor is you can use the Kitchenaid attachment without power with a little modification. I have it (and LOVE it), so I keep meaning to look into that, for emergencies. I need to go Google!

  22. Lauren says:

    Mel,
    I am not able to pull up the reviews attachment by clicking on the image, am I doing something wrong or can I get to it another way? Also, I was wondering if you’ve had any other readers having problems with reading your posts since your new web design went up. I can read the main page fine, but whenever I open a post to read it is SUPER slow to scroll down. My computer is kinda slow anyway, but I don’t have the problem on other blogs so I wondered if anyone else was having problems with it. I love your blog and am so disappointed to be having trouble reading it! Thanks!

  23. Michele says:

    Thanks Mel!!! Love the post, so helpful!!

  24. Ashley Nicole. says:

    I so badly want to buy my own wheat and a grain mill, but my hesitance is that it’s -not- cheaper for me. The cost of the grain mill aside, I can’t find wheat berries that -don’t- cost an arm and a leg. :/

  25. Jestine says:

    Hey Mel! Since I know you care about your wheat for your family (where it comes from, health, etc) I thought you might appreciate this. I had started to question the sudden rise in conditions like “gluten intolerance”, and why it has sky-rocketed so much in recent years. My mom, who recently had to give up wheat, actually told me that the wheat of today is nothing like the wheat of our grandparents (it now has about 4x the chromosomes, completely genetically modified, no wonder our bodies don’t recognize it). And for me, that just doesn’t sound like a good idea…
    Thought you might appreciate this article:
    http://www.thenaturalrecoveryplan.com/articles/What-Happened-to-Wheat.html

  26. Ashley Clark says:

    Hey Mel. Love your blog. Thank you for being awesome! I have and love the Komo Fidibus wheat grinder. I noticed yours has a metal piece in the hopper. Mine did not come with one. Did yours? I got mine from Pleasant Hill Grain. If it is supposed to come with one, I’ll be sure to give them a call and get mine. It seems important.

  27. Mel says:

    Hi Ashely – hmmm, that’s strange your grain mill doesn’t have that piece. Which model do you have? Maybe it depends on the model? It seems to help filter the wheat through the hopper but I can’t take mine in and out which makes me think it must just come installed on certain models.

  28. Great comparison on grinders! If you’re talking manual grinders, I have the Victorio deluxe model that comes has an optional motor so you have the best of both worlds! I love it and actually use it more than my Nutrimill because its so much easier to clean up!

  29. barbara says:

    Your information was very helpful to me. I am thinking of beginning to make wheat products and grinding my own wheat. I was surprised you did not mention this as one of your reasons why, as it is mine. Whenever I eat whole wheat commercially produced it tastes horrible and I heard or read once, that it becomes rancid. So, I concluded on my own, that that is probably why it tastes so nondelicious. Once I had fresh bread made with freshly ground berries. It was delicious and as delicious as any white bread I have ever had. Also, I am thinking of purchasing the Vitamix w 32-ounce Dry Grains container which advertises to grind grains among many other things I would like to do. Do you have any info or opinion on this product for grinding flour.

  30. Mel says:

    Hi Barbara – I’m afraid I haven’t used the Vitamix for grinding wheat berries and I don’t know anything about it. Sorry!

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  32. patty fromherz says:

    do you know if the komo can handle being in a kitchen with lots f moisture?

  33. Mel says:

    Patty – I’m not sure about that or how much moisture you are talking about. It might be worth calling the company who sells them to see for sure.

  34. Carla Riggs says:

    Hello, Mel ~
    This is a late post, so I hope you see it!
    I’ve had my Magic Mill for probably about 35 years now, and have used it primarily for grinding wheat. With nine children, I baked a LOT of bread through the years! I also owned the Bosch Mixers. My first one finally died after 25 years, and I purchased another one. Because we’re down to a few people, I purchased the Bosch Compact just recently, and gave my larger Bosch to a daughter in law.
    I’ve tried to discover why the Magic Mill is no longer produced. I realize it’s a big thing, but it lasts forever, and is able to grind 15 cups of wheat easily. The flour is lightly warm, but not hot. (Which grinder does create hot flour??)
    The hopper is very large, and everything is self contained. I occasionally vacuum the mill, which is so easy to do. I keep mine in a cupboard w/an electrical outlet; it’s at waist length, and perfectly situated for frequent use.
    The best fact about the Magic Mill is its ability to be switched for manual grinding. There is a handle on the back of the Mill which can be attached to a stationary bicycle. This seems so much easier than the hand grinders for sale now.
    Do you know why the Magic Mill seemed to fall out of favor?
    Thanks for this series!

  35. Mel says:

    Hi Carla – to be honest, I’m not sure why the Magic Mill is no longer popular/made anymore. It seems like even wheat grinders ebb and flow in popularity. I’m guessing that a lot of it has to do with size – everything these days is trying to be smaller, more compact and more user-friendly. I love that your Magic Mill has such a clever manual grinder!

  36. Cynthia says:

    Great article! Thanks for doing all this research. After several attempts, I finally figured out how to make good wheat bread. I’m a little obsessed with it and make it every day! I inherited my mother’s magic mill and love it; however, I’ve been dusting my house like crazy. So funny that I never thought to use it outside or in the garage. It’s a bitter winter here, but I’ll trade five minutes of that for the monotony or dusting everything over and over again. Thanks for the tips :)

  37. Nikki says:

    Thank you for all the great information! I am looking into wheat grinding and found your tutorials very helpful. I am pretty sure that I can buy the berries and vital wheat gluten from my local walmart. Thanks again and I will be printing your tutorials for my personal cookbook

  38. Melissa says:

    Very thankful I came across your blog. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge on the different grinders. I am looking to purchase the KoMO but not sure which model to get. Do you have any information on the differences of each model?W Which one would you suggest?

  39. Mel says:

    Hi Melissa – here’s a great link of a site (I’m not affiliated with them) that sells the KoMo mills and explains several different models. I think the Classic is a great one (it’s what I have and I love it).
    http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/KoMo_grain_mill_wolfgang_flour_mill_grinder_mills.aspx

  40. Kim Randall says:

    Absolutely love your site and your style of writing. I just bought our first mill (Nutrimill) because of some health concerns for my wife. I wanted to try baking with more nutritious ingredients. My problem has been with the results. I have several bread recipes that made delicious tasting, well risen breads using store bought flour, but they do not translate into fresh ground flour. All my results have been relative bricks. They rise very little, and still have a slightly sandy grittiness to them in spite of grinding on the finest setting. I even tried adding vital wheat gluten that I had read would help with the rise. The bread tastes really good, but without the rise, it is just too dense for my taste, and makes lousy sandwich bread because the loaves are so short. What am I to do? I have read countless web blogs and stories of the wonderful bread others are making with their fresh ground flour (oh, I use hard white wheat from Emergency Essentials), but my results have thus far been a comparative bust.

  41. Carla Riggs says:

    Hello, Kim ~
    I feel for you, having created many bricks of in my time!
    Below is a few suggestions ~
    Don’t grind your wheat on the finest grind. I use an old Magic Mill, thus my settings are not the same as your Nutrimill. I’m assuming that the mill will have a suggestion for you, though. I use Red Star Active yeast, mixing it with tepid water, and a of Tablespoon of sugar per Tablespoon of yeast. Generally it sits, foaming and growing while I grind my wheat and place it into my Bosche mixer. (I use about one Tablespoon of yeast to three/four cups of flour.) After it has risen a few inches in the container, I add the bubbling yeast mixture to a few cups of flour and continue the recipe.
    I don’t know what mixer you use, but to properly knead whole wheat dough, it must be powerful. When the kneading is done, it should feel springy, like a baby’s bottom :) while still a bit sticky when you poke the dough.
    Form your dough into a nice round ball, place it in a greased pan, and let it rise, covered, in a warm place. But not too warm! 75-100 degrees maximum. I generally preheat the oven to its lowest setting, then turn it off while making the dough. I will put the dough there and let it rise until about doubled.
    Gently cut the dough into how many loaves your making. Don’t punch the dough, though you may want to pinch any obvious balloons of air in the dough.
    Shape the loaf with your hands. Don’t roll it out, and roll it into a cylinder. Just shape a nicely even loaf.
    Place in your greased bread pans, and again allow the bread to rise until at least to the top of its pan. Be sure to cover the pan with saran wrap, or whatever you use to keep the dough from drying out.
    Preheat your oven, and place the pans into the oven. Bake at 350 from 30-40 minutes, according to the loaf size. The bread should register 190 – 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
    Good luck! Just be sure proof your yeast ~ you want a lively yeast! Treat the dough gently, and let it take its sweet time rising, in a warmish environment.

  42. Mel says:

    Hi Kim – have you seen this tutorial on yeast?
    http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2009/11/tutorial-working-with-yeast.html

    It may help with a few of your questions. I’ve noticed over the years that generally bread that isn’t rising well is either overfloured or you may need more dough in the pans to help it hold it’s shape and not deflate. The post with the tutorial on yeast shows how I flour my dough – it’s slightly sticky but still soft. I grind my flour as finely as possible and even when using it in bread but I don’t know that the texture of the flour will impact the outcome of bread as much as how much flour is added to the dough and other factors. Let me know if you have other questions!

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