I would like to share an experiment I ran to see if there really is a need to purchase or make a grain mill to get the most nutrition from grains in the flour making process for the in-home setting. There are grain mills on the market that will accommodate the desire to make your own flour, however most are above the two hundred dollar range, with the majority running into at least three hundred or more. For the purposes of writing this article, I spent some time thinking about the breaking up of grains to bring out the nutritional value in flour, which led me to the experiment I tried during some off hours. While there has been no testing to conclude it maintains the nutritional value, I feel that it cracked the grain and created a great tasting flour.
I began to wonder if bakers would really need the grain mill. What if we simply found an easier way to get flour through the grinding process without the use of a mill? I immediately went to the store and purchased some whole oats, wheat berries and even a bit of rice. Breaking out the blender, I added the oats and rice together and hit the high speed setting. To my surprise, the grains broke down into a nice powdery flour-type substance. I placed the mixture into a sift and began to crank.
Sifting the two together made a nice floury mixture that looked like it would allow me to bake up some great bread. The grains did blend up well, with very little grainy product on top. I simply threw the grainier stuff back into the blender and ran it through again. I found the key was to place about one to two cups at a time into the blender to ensure all of it had a chance to move about freely in the pitcher. The results were good. I had created flour by the use of a blender rather than having to purchase or create a mill. The next step was to add the wheat berries to produce a wheat type of flour. The berries worked the same as the rice and oats. I now had two types of flour, although I hadn't tested them to see if they would actually manufacture a nice edible bread.
I baked six loaves of bread over the weekend, which actually survived the rising process. The bread looked and smelled delicious. I baked up all six loaves, three each of wheat and rice-oat. They all turned out delicious, smelled wonderful and really made a difference in taste when using a fresh flour. In one of the loaves, I actually ground up some quionoa as well, which blended nicely with the other flour sources. The loaf came out dense, however the bread itself was fairly light, with grains galore throughout. It felt as though the denseness was attributed to the whole grains it contained and not due to the store bought flour substitute. My family loved it, I love it and will make it again.
While you may wish to have a bit smoother flour, the blender worked well as far as creating breads. Wheat berries made a great combination of wheat bread, in coordination with the rice-oat flour. I plan on making more flour to use in cookies, cupcakes and other baked goods, as an experiment in future baking projects. The blender I used was a regular in-home model that is nothing special. It is not the top of the line, but is not the cheapest blender you can purchase either. It is strong enough to have blended the rice well. You can taste the difference in the fresh, whole grain flour product.
Since this blender method provides only a small scale approach to grinding your own flour, there are larger grain mills that can be crafted by someone that needs a mill on a grander scale. One option for a do it yourself flour mill is designed by Hugo Gervais. Mr. Gervais was commissioned by the University of Vermont Crops and Soils extension to design and build a mill for their use. The University grows their own grains, records results and writes articles on findings. To find out more about grains, you can visit their website through the highlighted link above. This is an extensive grain growing project, with numerous pages of information to give the reader everything they need to know about grains and the growing process.
The flour mill and sifter design that Mr. Gervais has provided is in the form of a PDF file for easy download and reading while you are building. Gervais has carefully illustrated every step to ensure the construction is correct. If you still have questions about building the mill, he has provided his email address and phone number.