With all this breadmaking going on, I've been thinking alot about flour. We made a trip to Cargo Largo, a store that sells discounted wares at "just fell off the truck" discounted prices. In addition to finding lots of cheap stuff for our first aid cabinet (including medical grade respirators!), I also found a pretty good stash of bread flour. I snagged all 3 lbs of it at less than 60% off the retail price in the grocery store.
Even this unbleached, organic flour isn't all that great. Did you know that 50% of the nutritional value of grain is lost within 24 hours after it's made into flour and then another 50% is lost within the next 3 days?
Gak! So one of the things that J. and I have been talking about is the idea of grinding our own flour as we need it and that means a mill of some kind. I've been searching auctions and Craigslist for almost 2 years now for a used mill with no luck. We considered the mill attachment for the KitchenAid and various other cheap grinders, but I really want to have something old-school. In other words, something that doesn't require electricity. And so I turned to the Internet again to research all I could about the different options and what you should look for in a mill.
Out of all that research came this list of requirements and "nice to haves":
- Must be able to handle wheat, corn wheat, rice, beans, corn, peas and beans
- Must be manual so that it would work if the power was out
- Easy to use and clean
- Good warranty
- Reputable company with good support
- Made in the USA
- Can handle nuts like peanuts and almonds (making peanut butter!)
- Able to use it with a motor or other type of power (e.g., bike)
What I quickly found was that the cheaper mills (anything under $200) just aren't up to the task. So that leaves just 3 manual mills: the Diamana D525, the ever popular Country Living Grain Mill, and the Grainmaker. We quickly ruled out the Diamant because, even though it's the Cadillac of grain mills, it's made outside the U.S. and it costs an arm and a leg. So now's we're down to 2. There's a dearth of information available on these two mills, so I put together this table to quickly show a comparison between them.
|Click to biggify!|
There were a couple of really good reviews\comparisons that I found and think would be helpful if you're looking at mills also.
- GoodBadAndUglyComparisons has a review of both the Grainmaker 99 and the Country Living Mill that are incredibly informative.
- Home Place Earth has a comparison post that has some really great information as well.
- Check out these independent reviews on Grainmaker's website.
- And, finally, here's a print resource on everything related to milling, including how to select the right mill for you: "Flour Power: A Guide to Modern Home Grain Milling" by Marleeta F. Basey.
So Which One Did We Pick?
Ultimately, we decided on the more expensive Grainmaker #99. I happen to really like that fire engine red color and I think it definitely has the proper old-timey look. But, if you look at the green highlights in my table, you'll see why we ultimately decided on the Grainmaker. I'm a little concerned about the aluminum and the powder coating in the grindng compartment of the Country Living mill. Would we be eating little flecks of powder coating in the future when that finish fails? And the CL seemed to not included some of the features that are standard on the Grainmaker (like the extended handle for two-handed grinding, the large grain auger and nut\bean auger, and ability to use standard bowls.) While that last one may seem nit-picky, think about how you make bread - do you want to have a specialty bin to grind your flour into or would you rather just use the bowl you're making bread in? The final straw was the lifetime warranty on the whole kit and caboodle that Grainmaker offers. Those burrs are expensive to replace and it looks like the CL burrs are smaller and only warranted for 1 year. That makes me a little nervous.
Williams-Sonoma had a 10% off special sale on the Grainmaker through today for just $624 with free shipping. We lucked out and sold a roll of wool stair carpet and a kitchen island that I had posted on Craigslist today, and the proceeds more than paid for the Grainmaker. I suppose the icing on the cake is that the mill comes with a 5 pound bag of Montana's Prairie Gold Wheat, which is guaranteed to be 100% chemical and GMO free.
Now I'm can't wait until it gets here. But I suppose I can keep myself busy searching for sources for bulk wheat. Any of you locals have any ideas? And stay tuned....when it shows up, I'll be sure to post about our first experiences with it!
I'm sharing this post with this week's Clever Chicks, Sunny Simple Sunday and Down Home blog hops.