feeding healthy citizens from the fields around us
Why mill your own flour?
With your own small stone grain mill, you will be able to produce the freshest flour possible, from the grains of your choice, grown in a way that respects the biosphere. By choosing certified organic grain you will avoid the residues of weedkillers and fungicides that are routinely present in non-organic flour. And by milling just before baking you will minimise the decline in nutrient vitality that inevitably occurs in long-shelf-life flours.
Your grain mill consists of two stones, made from a composite mix of very hard ‘corundum’ mineral which is capable of grinding the grain without leaving gritty residues in the flour that might wear down your teeth. The bottom stone is mounted on a spindle driven directly by an electric motor. The top stone is fixed and the distance between the stones – which determines the fineness of the flour – is usually controlled by turning the top stone in its housing (which includes the grain hopper): clockwise to make the stones closer for finer flour, anti-clockwise to increase the distance between the stones and so make coarser flour. This adjustment is sometimes made by turning a calibrated wheel on the side of the mill. Either way, the two stones move either closer together or further apart for finer or coarser flour.
Before starting to mill, make sure that the stones are far enough apart to avoid touching – a nasty grinding clatter will tell you if they are. It is best to have the stones running at full speed before putting grain in the hopper in order to reduce drag on the motor. Try a small amount first to check that it is going through OK. If you want the flour finer or coarser, turn the hopper assembly to close or open the stones and lock it in position with the wheel or peg provided. Make a note of the setting so that you can achieve a consistent flour in the future.
Always use dry grain. Around 15% moisture is best. If you don’t have a moisture meter, you’ll have to judge by the hardness of the grains when you bite one. If it’s soft and easy to bite through, the grain is probably too moist. You’ll know if you are trying to mill grain that’s too moist because it will clog up the stones and cause them and the motor to get very hot. Grain can be dried, spread out on a baking tray, in a very low oven – anything higher than about 50°C will begin to damage important enzymes and may destroy some of the gluten content of the flour.
Your grain mill is designed to produce wholemeal flour (i.e. the whole grain ground up) in one pass. If you want to make a finer flour, you can sieve out the coarser bran. You may find you get the finest flour by grinding quite coarsely at first, leaving larger bran pieces, and then re-grinding the flour after sieving out the coarse bran.
For wheat, aim for a protein content of 11.5% or above if you want to make bread. Lower protein wheats can, with a bit of skill and practice, be used for breads (especially flat breads) and are great for making pastry and cakes. Other grains and pulses such as rye, barley, buckwheat, spelt, chickpeas etc may be ground on your mill. Don’t try milling nuts or seeds: these usually have a high fat content that makes them clog up the stones.
Other than wiping the exterior with a damp cloth from time to time, there is little need for maintenance. However, it is good practice to clean any residues of flour from all accessible parts of the machine in order to prevent infestation by flour moths.