Two apparatus questions: Grain Mill;Heat Sensor

kitchendetectiveMay 18, 2014

Please tell me your experiences and suggestions with and regarding grain mills and infrared surface sensors. I think that this forum's increased activity is a better place to ask this than is elsewhere, especially because I hope to hear from the cooks actually using these devices. I would like to try milling my own flour and was informed that my Ankarsrum attachment will not mill finely enough for baking purposes. (Comments? Brand and model recommendations?) As to the infrared heat apparatus, I would like to use a sensor primarily for the (American Range, 24" wide, l.p.) high griddle, which has a fairly reflective surface, and, elsewhere, sources state that reflective surfaces defeat the accuracy. (Comments? Brand, model recommendations?)

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there have been numerous on going discussions on The Fresh Loaf about home milling . several folks have recently purchased mills and are very pleased with their performance. A search on the sight will bring up a lot of great info. Several folks have purchased the Nutrimill after a lot of research . They are all using it on a weekly basis and have no complaints. Hope this helps. You can search on the Fresh Loaf and read all the discussions also. c

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:34PM
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These videos helped me a lot, as did several discussions, including an old one at Fresh Loaf, of how hard it was to deal with the Mil-rite people. In the videos, the man shows the noise and temperature for Wondermill, Nutrimill, Komo and a hand crank, I think it's Family Grain Mill.

That eased my mind a lot, as did Grainlady saying the temperature isn't really as big an issue as people say.

I got the Nutrimill several weeks ago, and am pleased so far. One of the things I liked was the dual controls, and the other is that it'll do legumes. Oh, and most important is that one can put the grain in the hopper before turning it on. I could so see myself forgetting! Elimination of consequences for operator error is a great design consideration in making a machine.

The first batch I milled got hot, but that's because I didn't adjust the feed right, and it wasn't feeding sufficiently. The whole thing got hot. It doesn't seem to have hurt anything except a small batch of flour. I have a good IR/probe thermometer, and used that to test the heat of the flour, and it wasn't out of normal range. I think the grain started out pretty darned cool, though.

Anyway, I'm not sure you really need a heat sensor. It couldn't hurt, and if you're into making gadgets, it might make a nice project, but you really could use a thermometer if you're concerned, or chill your grains.

Grainlady didn't think freezing grain--the suggestion from the guy in the video--was likely necessary, though even with the a/c on, the inside of my pantry cabinets got actually warm in this last heat wave. I was trying to make starter, and you're not supposed to be able to do that with home milled because the organisms are sensitive to heat. My first tries got moldy before I ever could find out. I was about to buy a starter when I thought I'd make one more try while it was so hot and dry. For this attempt, I used grain that was frozen for a week. It worked! It's alive! I've just given it its first feed.

Another thing I like about the Nutrimill is that, while it comes with an expansion ring so you can mill a big bag of flour at once, it'll also do 50 grams at a time. Though I've learned that in transfer/spillage about 3 grams is lost (that would be the same for any quantity. It's what sticks to the lid, gets stuck in the filter, or floats away. Oh, and another thing I've learned is that while the instructions say to dust the seal with flour to make it turn more easily, in this dry heat it wasn't budging. I dampened my finger with oil and ran it around the outside of the seal and that fixed it. :) It does take some arm and shoulder strength to open and close the bowl. It's not pushing power that's needed so much, as gripping, so it's not a great option for the one handed, arthritic, or small. :)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 5:19PM
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1. Coarse flour equals coarse baked goods. Fine flour = fine baked goods. It's not that you can't use coarse flour for baking, but if you do you should expect different results than what you get with fine flour. In order to have a fine crumb for a Whole Wheat Angel Food Cake, or other delicate baked goods, you must have fine flour. You also need the right type of wheat - as well as the correct grind. Use soft wheat for baked goods where you don't need a lot of gluten development (pastry, cake, quick breads, some cookies, biscuits, etc.). I mill 3 parts soft white wheat with 1 part oats or spelt to make a low-gluten "cake" flour.

If you already own the Ankarsrum attachment, run the grain through on a coarse setting (if it's adjustable), and then run the coarse flour through the mill on a fine setting and see if it's any finer than just one pass through the mill. This is a common "fix" for some mills, but it also entails more work/mess/time. It will also help prevent the motor from over-heating. Most of the mills used on the multi-task machines and stand mixers tend to NOT mill fine flour and also over-work the base motor, so keep to small amounts of flour at any one time, do the coarse setting first, then the fine setting. Allow the motor to cool between batches if you need to mill a lot of flour.

2. There is not a "perfect" mill, which is why I have a number of them. I also teach classes about home milling, so that's another reason I have a number of mills - for demonstration purposes. Do your homework so you are familiar with all the different types of mills and their milling characteristics - "stone" (which are actually any number of natural or composite materials which can chip, shred, crack and break - and if your grain is too moist for milling, stones will glaze over and you will need to remove and clean the stones); cone and burr mills (generally for coarse milling); as well as impact/micronizer mills (the newest and fastest method where the grain "explodes" into tiny particles as it passes through the fast-moving "teeth", rather than being pressed or ground between stones or burrs).

3. If your goal is to mill large amounts of grain into fine flour in a short amount of time, I'd suggest an impact/micronizer mill - a Nutrimill or Wonder Mill. The Nutrimill edges the Wonder Mill out only by a slight margin because you can load the Nutrimill before turning it on, it can be stopped even with the hopper full, and it has a "coarse" grind that the Wonder Mill can't duplicate. Even though they call it a "coarse" grind on the Nutrimill, it is actually a fine-grind for cornmeal. It's more like semolina in size (and what I used to mill durum wheat for a wholegrain semolina type product for making pasta). The texture of the baked cornbread using this so-called "coarse" grind on a Nutrimill will be more cake-like because it is so fine.

You shouldn't stop the Wonder Mill in the middle of grinding (someone accidently unplugging it, or during a power outage) or you can clog the machine, and it needs to be ON when you load the hopper.


-I wear earplugs when using my electric mills due to noise. If you have children, I'd suggest they stay out of the room during milling to protect their ears.

-Make sure the Nutrimill canister is pushed in properly (there are embossed words "YES" and "NO" on the base and the canister needs to be past "YES") or you will have flour everywhere.

-Make sure the hose connecting the Wonder Mill and its canister is properly connected or you will have flour everywhere in your kitchen.

-On the Nutrimill, I apply cornstarch to the rubber ring to keep it from sticking. I use a soft, natural-bristle pastry brush to remove the flour off the cover and the cup and brush it into the canister - so there is very little flour actually lost during milling or clean-up. I did the same with the Wondermill (which was known as the Whisper Mill when I owned it) and I also used a narrow bottle brush to clean the flour out of the connecting hose.

-The electric mills can "walk" because of the vibration, and have been known to fall off counters, so keep an eye on it, or place it on a silicon mat (Silpat) to keep it from wandering and becoming yet one more victim for appliance "heaven".

4. If you watched the videos plllog linked to, I have owned or currently own all but the Wolfgang. If I could only keep one mill (which would be a very sad day indeed), I would keep the Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe (the hand mill) because of it's versatility. There is an adaptor for the Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe so you can power it with an electric drill if you need speed. I also have a Family Grain Mill with the motorized base, which is another good choice and also has a number of attachments you can purchase for it to expand it's use besides milling.

5. If you plan on doing any kind of coarse grinds or grits, you will want a hand mill for that - something that will adjust accordingly. I use a Corona Corn Mill for medium and coarse grinds of cornmeal, multi-grain/bean/seed mixtures, or hot cereal (Farina, Cream of Rice, Cream of Wheat, etc.), or will use my Family Grain Mill or Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe.

When milling grain for cooked cereal (or cereal blends), be sure to sift out the flour or you will end up with glue in your cooked cereal. The same goes if you make cracked wheat or bulgur.

6. You can't mill small grains (teff, amaranth) in all mills, nor can you mill oily seeds (flax, poppy, etc.), so I have a Porkert Seed Mill for milling small seeds into flour. I can also use my coffee/spice mill, Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe, and Family Grain Mill.

7. If you would like to mill grain into flakes, that requires a flaker mill. I have a Marga Roller Grain Mill for flaking, and it will also grind a coarse grind of flour and coarse flakes, as well as crushing the entire seed into a flake, but can't be used for something hard like corn or beans. Flaking grain will shorten the cooking time. You can add a flaker mill attachment to the Family Grain Mill.

8. If you are considering hand mills, make sure you can easily store it and have something it can be attached to (either permanently or temporarily). You will also want to store it in a dry environment so nothing will rust. I have a grain cart I roll in and out of my pantry when I want to use it. I store my hand mills on the shelves, and they can attach (clamp) to the thick wood top.

As to the infrared heat apparatus, I don't have any information to add. I use the "dancing drops of water" test on a griddle.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:11AM
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Thank you for the detailed information and links! I certainly appreciate the thoughtfulness of these responses. So, now I have much thinking to do. I would love a large, hand grinder, but there is no place for attachment in the house. The workshop could work, but it is a somewhat inconvenient distance. The Nutrimill seems quite popular, but I am still undecided. Will think through this carefully.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:52PM
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Re operator error: It was late, but I needed to feed my starter. Somehow I didn't see that the bowl wasn't in the Nutrimill until I got grit (I'm assuming the bran is what felt gritty) in my face when I turned it on. :) No harm. Not even a big mess since my hand was still on the knob and it went right off. Since you can turn it off mid-milling, no issue. Little mess. :) One sponge for the counter, and a paper towel for the floor. :) I love that the only effect of screwing up is a cleaning up a little flour.

Twenty years ago, I retired an otherwise excellent sewing machine because if one forgot to put the presser foot down, it took at least half an hour of dedicated, meticulous cleaning to get it going again. Whereas with my other machines, if one does that, it's easy enough to yank gently on the snarl, which pulls out of the bobbin area, and just cut the thread off of the fabric. No mess in the machine at all.

Design should always take user inattention into account!

Re walking: Mine has really good feet that stick to the counter. I've been using it in the corner of my baking area, where, while all the feet are on the counter, the front protrudes. I'd know if it walked, because it would be on the floor! It also gets good and stuck to the tile so it has to be lifted to move, rather than pushed.

I don't know if I'm just enjoying the benefits of newness and the feet will start walking as they age, or if Nutrimill redesigned them and made them better. Either way, I'm glad that's one less thing to get wrong. :)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 3:52PM
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Kitchendetective, this is a copy of a post I did on Freshloaf on the different options for grain mills. Note I did not address impact mills like the Wondermill or Nutrimill.

I intend to create a page on this, but haven't got around to it yet. Some machines have the stones oriented horizontally ( All Grain Mill is one example) In the All Grain, the stones are moved closer together to make a finer flour, and farther to make a coarser grind - which stone moves, and how it is adjusted depends on the model of the machine. If the flour is ejected by a fan, such as with the All Grain, you need a container that hooks up to the mill, otherwise the flour will blow everywhere. All Grain sells a container, in some cases you may be able to fit a special dust bag to catch the flour - but either way, that will take up additional footprint while in use. If it does not come with the container, you will need to address that in some way. The Komo has horizontal stones but does not use a fan to eject the flour, so it can use an ordinary bowl to catch the flour as it falls out. The horizontal stones gives you a compact footprint for the mill, but the unit will be much higher than one with stones in a vertical orientation

Vertical stone models were made by many manufacturers- such as Excalibur, Magic Mill ( not the DLX) , Mill & Mix, Marathon, etc. For these, the motor is horizontal , so it takes up a much bigger footprint, but they are very simple in design. There is a large heavy duty, usually induction, motor, a fixed stone, and then a stone which can be moved closer or further away from the fixed stone, and then a hopper or container above the stones that you dump the berries in, and another container that the flour falls into. While sometimes the flour catcher is missing, it is usually easy to replace since the ground flour just falls into the container by gravity, usually, there is no fan blowing the flour. Sometimes instead of a stone, they use steel plates to do the grinding.

The final option is the Lee - which in my opinion, is the best if you are using it only for wheat berries ( I have a Lee, and All Grain, and a no name anyone has ever heard of similar to a Marathon, only slightly more compact). If you read the reviews on this site, the Lee works in a totally different manner than any other mill. Instead of two stones that you adjust to put closer or further away, there is only one stone, and in essence a fan blows the berries against the stone, and at the back there is an adjustable slot, it you set it to fine, the flour will not escape, and it keeps grinding it until it is fine enough to fit through the escape. The downside is that it can be a little bit slower than some other mills, and since there is a fan blowing out the flour, you can't just set a bowl under it, you need a bag. The mill comes with a special bag - it looks like canvas on the outside, but has a fuzzy side on the inside to help trap the flour dust. The maker sells replacement bags, but they run around $45 or so. There is a Harbor Freight filter bag that works pretty well item 94764, My only complaint with this bag, and the same holds true for the original bags, is that you can't get all the flour out of them, due to the fuzzy part on the inside, so you may create a dust cloud trying to get most of the dust out, and have to store the bag in a closed bag in the fridge to keep the flour stuck on the bag from going bad. The other downside is that most of the Lee's are designed to be taken apart and cleaned after each use ( though some models don't have that design) and some users say it can be tricky to get it back together. Also, some models don't have an adjustment for fineness - I would prefer one with the fineness adjustment. The footprint of the Lee is somewhere between the horizontal wheel models and the vertical wheel models. Also, the Lee has a cheaper, universal motor, but the way it is designed, it should still last nearly forever,

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 8:48PM
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Thank you! This is new to me, although I have accessed TFL for other purposes recently.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 8:37PM
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