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.
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!
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.
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.
I set my large Pyrex bowl underneath and the ground flour spills into the bowl.
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.
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.
When it’s all said and done, I’m left with beautiful, fluffy flour. Amazing!
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.
Here’s an at-a-glance view of how many of you own what type of grain mill:
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.
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):
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!