How to Grind your own Flour at Home
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Making your own flour at home is a great option to save money, be more self-reliant, and add variety to your baked goods. Freshly ground flour adds unique textures and flavors to bread. You can also vary the texture of your ground flour to add a toothsome punch to muffins or scones.
Why Grind your own Flour?
You can Grind a Wider Variety of Grains
Grinding flour at home begins with choosing wheat berries and other grains to keep in your pantry. Varieties range from hard red wheat and soft white wheat to oat groats, rye, and buckwheat (you can start with a variety pack like this one from Palouse Brand, too). You can also get really unique heritage varieties that you wouldn’t find in your local store. Grinding your flours means you can create your own blends based on texture and flavor, experimenting over time to find combinations you love.
Fresh Ground Grains are Healthier
Baking with whole grains increases the health factor in all of your finished products. Creating those whole grains at home does even more to retain healthy nutrients. As soon as the hull is removed from wheat, the protective barrier that held in all of those valuable nutrients is gone. Scientific research has shown that after just a few weeks, many of those nutrients are lost. Grinding at home means using the grain right after it is processed, thus retaining as many of those nutrients as possible.
Grinding your own Flour makes you more Self-Reliant
The flu scare in 2020 showed us that food scarcity is truly a risk even in our modern day culture. After just one week of our state imposing social distancing regulations, we had a very difficult time finding flour or yeast in our local stores or online. Wheat berries, on the other hand, were still available. They can also be purchased in bulk and last a long time in storage, and thus can provide you with flour when other sources run dry.
You save Money by Grinding your own Grains
Buying in bulk offers cost-savings over buying processed flour, especially if you are buying large amounts to keep in long-term storage. When we first purchased our grain mill, we analyzed the return on investment and determined that we could grind 5lbs worth of ORGANIC grain for the same cost as buying 5lbs of non-organic flour from the grocery store. Considering the added health benefits and flavors of freshly ground grain, this was a win for us!
Options for Grinding your own Flour
OK, so you have decided you want to grind your own flour. Beyond using elbow grease and a mortar and pestle (which works but we don’t recommend as a long term solution), just HOW should you grind?
When it comes to tools for grinding flour you have a spectrum of choices depending on how much flour you intend to grind and how much money you are able to spend. Here we discuss the pros and cons of using a blender, grain mill attachment, or stand-alone grain mill.
Grind Flour with a Manual Grain Mill
A manual grain mill is sort of like a meat grinder or a pasta maker. It has a metal bowl into which you put your grains, a grinding mechanism that you operate with a handle, and a spout where the ground grains come out. Most models have a clamp that allows you to attach the mill to your countertop for stability.
A manual grain mill is a step above the mortar and pestle method mentioned above and allows you to get more done in less time. It does require your own elbow grease, but uses a mechanism to make your human more more effective. Just remember that it will take some work to do large amounts of grain, and you may come to a point when you need something more powerful and faster.
Pros: A manual grain mill is an inexpensive investment to get you started. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, and it can be fun to try. If you like using your body to produce your own food (instead of electricity) this is the option for you!
Cons: A manual grain mill requires your labor more than other options. If you have concerns about being able to grind enough flour for what you need, you may want to skip to one of the next options. Manual grain mills may also not get your flour as soft and fine as you would like since the options for grain sizes may be limited.
Grind Flour in a Blender
If you want to try our grinding flour at home before making the investment in a new piece of equipment, you can try grinding grains in a high quality blender.
A regular low to mid-priced blender will likely not be able to produce the kind of fine grain you’ll need for all of your baking. You will, however, be able to grind berries into a coarse mixture that would add texture and flavor as a complement to a more finely grain flour in your recipe. For example, you could add one cup of ground oat groats to a bread recipe otherwise made with traditional all purpose or whole wheat flour.
To grind flour on a regular basis, and into a finer texture, you’d want to invest in a higher quality more powerful blender, such as a Vitamix. With a high-powered blender, you can blend the flour you need for a given recipe in less than a minute. You can also have some control over texture by stopping the blender sooner if you want a more coarse grind. We have found that our Vitamix does a pretty impressive job making well-ground, soft flour that works in almost any recipe.
Pro: A blender is a multi-tasking appliance so you can use it for more than just grinding grains; you may already have a blender that will work for this purpose and won’t have to make a new investment.
Cons: A low-mid cost blender will not get you a fine grain flour, and grinding flour in a cheap blender could burn it out faster. Since a blender is not made specifically for grinding grain you won’t have as many options for texture as with a machine built specifically for this purpose.
Grind Flour with a Grain Mill Attachment
A grain mill attachment is just what is sounds like – it is a mill for grinding grain but it gets its power from the tool to which you attach it. Mockmill is a German company that makes a Kitchen Aid grain mill attachment that attaches to your mixer. There are other companies that make similar models, but we’ll speak to this one since its the one we have.
The Mockmill Grain Mill Attachment allows you to grind berries to a variety of textures and sizes with its adjustable stone. Once you attach it to your mixer, you simply turn on the mixer, add grains to the top bowl, and it uses the speed of your mixer to turn and grind the grain. The spout on the bottom of the grain mill funnels the grains directly into your mixing bowl.
We think this attachment is a great option for those who want to grind a medium level of grains – not all the time and not as their primary source of flour – but on a regular basis. It is fairly comparable to a higher quality blender, but if you don’t spend the money on that higher quality blender, this is another route.
Pros: the Grain Mill Attachment is small and fits in your cabinet easily; it can be taken out only when needed and doesn’t take up counter space. The ability to direct ground grains directly into your mixing bowl means you can add them right to your bread as it is mixing. The Attachment is more affordable than countertop models and thus may offer a great entry level option for those who want to start grinding their own grains.
Cons: using the Grain Mill Attachment with your mixer means your mixer is working a little bit harder and more frequently, so you will put more wear on your mixer. The Attachment is also a smaller tool and does not grind as quickly as a counter top model (Breadtopia estimates it grinds at about 70% the speed and capacity of a counter top model), thus it may not be as effective for someone who wants to grind a lot of flour for daily use.
Grind Flour in a Stand-Alone Electric Home Grain Mill
Once you decide that you truly want to grind your own flour for frequent or every day use, you may want to invest in an electric grain mill. These counter-top models are self-containing, meaning they are an appliance in and of themselves. They are single purpose units, built specifically for this purpose, thus they offer a finer, more nuanced touch on the grinding process. They also work faster than the Attachment grain mill. In short, you can grind more flour in a shorter amount of time without taxing your other appliances.
Most electric grain mills work the same way – you put your berries or groats in the top, and your ground grain or flour comes out of a spout (you place a bowl underneath to capture it). Some grain mills offer a “flaking” option that allows you to make more of a flat grain (like you might want with oats). You can also get grain mills with a sifting attachment (or buy a separate sifter). Those will sift out the larger, courser bran to end up with an even finer flour that is best for pastries.
Pros: Stand alone electric grain mills are a great choice if you want to grind a lot of flour on a regular basis. They have options when it comes to settings; they work faster and more efficiently; and they can grind/sift to a more fine flour that works well for pastries.
Cons: A stand alone grain mill is an investment; they range in price from $200 – $600 depending on features; they are also a “single function” appliance so they only do this one thing, and you may not want to take up more space with a single use appliance.
No matter which option you choose, grinding your own flour at home is a truly satisfying (and delicious) experience. When it comes to self-reliance, it is a great step in the right direction!